The Bucs did what they needed to as they survived and advanced by beating the Washington Football Team 31-23 in the Super Wild Card Round. The team leaders made their mark for Tampa Bay as Mike Evans, Tom Brady and company made big plays when it was needed to get the job done and pull off their first postseason win since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl XXXVII.

Here were the most impressive players from the game.

RB Leonard Fournette
With Ronald Jones unable to go after warmups, Fournette stepped up in a huge way to help the Bucs’ offense. He was efficient running the ball and also provided an important role in the pass game as well. When Fournette got going, he really opened things up for the rest of the Bucs offense. Tampa Bay needed a game like this from Fournette with Jones out, and he delivered. He finished the game with 132 total yards and a touchdown.

WR Mike Evans
Evans proved once again why he is one of the toughest players in football, a future Bucs’ Ring Of Honor member, and a potential future Hall of Famer. After hyperextending his knee a week ago, Evans gutted it out and had a dominant second half of football, going for 104 yards on five receptions after the break. He had a key 35-yard reception late in the game that helped set up the Bucs for a field goal to give them an eight-point lead. Evans ended the game with six catches for 119 yards, which was a new Bucs’ record for most receiving yards in a postseason game. At this point in his career, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Evans shatter a different record almost every year.

LT Donovan Smith
Heading into this game, all the talk was about Washington’s edge rushers and how the Bucs are really going to need Donovan Smith to step up. That’s exactly what Smith did, as he played some of his best football when it mattered most. Smith was a brick well when it came to protecting Tom Brady, as no one was getting by him. Everyone wanted to talk about Chase Young “wanting” Brady, but he never got to him, and that was largely because of how well Smith played. If he can continue to play at that level for the remainder of the postseason, the Bucs will be in good shape from a protection standpoint on the outside.

TE Cam Brate
It was quite the night for Brate as he saved his best game of the season for the playoffs. Brate was a reliable target for Brady all night, making some crucial third down receptions in the second half to put the Bucs in scoring situations. Brate got lost in the shuffle this season with so many weapons and additions to the offense, but he was a focal point in this game. Brate’s stat line was four receptions for 80 yards.

QB Tom Brady
Brady had some dropped passes by the receivers, but he did exactly what Tampa Bay brought him here to do – win playoff games and come up in the clutch. Facing a tough defensive front from Washington, he still went on to throw for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Brady had a perfect downfield throw to Evans late in the fourth quarter that was right on the money and got the Bucs closer to field goal range to make it an eight point lead. It was a big play when the Bucs needed it most.

LB Lavonte David
The defense played poorly against backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, but with the game on the line it was David who made the big play to seal it for the Bucs. As Tampa Bay struggled to contain the scrambling quarterback, David got a crucial sack on Heinicke off the blitz on the final drive of the game while Washington had no timeouts left. It put Washington in a fourth-and-21 situation, which essentially ended the game. This was a long time coming for David, who’s been a leader for this team and finally reached the postseason for the first time in his nine-year career. He was tied for the team lead in tackles with nine, along with a sack and a pass breakup.

Honorable Mention: LB Kevin Minter, K Ryan Succop

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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DerLutz
18 days ago

Chase Young was invisible. Well done Donovan.

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Dave
Reply to  DerLutz
18 days ago

Chase who?

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compewterpirate
18 days ago

My most impressive list. Leonard Fournette, who was terrific, by far his best game of the season. Brady, outstanding again and but for drops could have had 4 TD’s and 500 yds, against the #2 ranked defense in the league and it’s much vaunted pass rush. Mike Evans, what a baller, just a great game playing hurt. Cam Brate, his best/most impactful game of the season, ditto Donovan Smith, best game I’ve seen him play (Chase who?!). Actually, put the whole ‘O’ line on the list (minus Ted Larsen) and finally I’m going to put Byron Leftwich on the list.… Read more »

76bucsfan46
18 days ago

Great win Bucs

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drdneast
18 days ago

Mr. Fournette, I would like to apologize to you for dogging your ass for the last half of the season. Your play last night was outstanding. Tipping my cap to you, sir.

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scubog
18 days ago

Along with the aforementioned, I was impressed with the few plays by A.B. and am a bit curious why he seemed absent in the second half.
Guess Chase Young meant he was “Coming for Tom” to get the GOAT’s autograph after the game since that was the closest he got. Great job #76.

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Spitfire
Reply to  scubog
18 days ago

😂

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drdneast
Reply to  scubog
17 days ago

Good one scubog. They seemed to be getting along very nicely after the game. If this was the new young gun in town challenging the old grizzled gunfighter to a showdown, the poor kid would have been riddled with bullets.

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Eddie
Reply to  drdneast
16 days ago

Brady is a gentleman. He will always be gracious, at least in public.

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toucan
18 days ago

Lavonte is one of the overall 2 best LBs in the entire league and has been for a while. He is tenacious. He had to fight his way through heavy traffic to sack Heinieke.

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Dave
18 days ago

Evans proved exactly why I said it was massive to have him out there for this game. Game could have been different if he wasn’t active

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ExtendLichtMovement
Reply to  Dave
18 days ago

That was my thought watching the game Dave. I was saying rest Evans all week, but honestly, who thought Godwin would have had that kind of game? Either way, great performance by Evans and especially D. Smith.

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Dave
Reply to  ExtendLichtMovement
17 days ago

Well I was right, but for the wrong reason lol. I thought Evans would make a huge difference simply by him needing to have extra attention on him. Almost in a decoy role. Having him out there, doesn’t allow the WFT to sit on the underneath stuff all game. He opens up the whole field, in a way that AB and Godwin don’t. But I definitely wasn’t expecting him to lead the team in every receiving category. Dude is a complete animal. He’s irreplaceable. And yet someone tried telling me the other day that Licht made a big mistake by… Read more »

ExtendLichtMovement
Reply to  Dave
17 days ago

Evans is different. There is no way to guard the guy, even at 80%. Donald to Evans is like comparing apples and oranges to me. At the time, it was the correct decision and one everyone should be able to live with, as Evans has made every qb the Bucs have had better.

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Dave
Reply to  ExtendLichtMovement
17 days ago

100% dude! He was absolutely, positively, the right pick at the time. We were coming off a 4-12 season where our offense ranked 30th in points, and dead last in yards on offense. Our top 2 WR’s were an aging Vincent Jackson, and Tiquan Underwood(who was 2nd among WR’s with 24 rec for 440 yards and 4 TD’s). And we had McCoy(the 3rd overall pick) coming off a great 3rd season( 9.5 sacks, 15 TFL, 21 QB hits, 4 PD’s, an 84.4 PFF grade). Not taking Evans would have been moronic on every level. Drafting a 2nd undersized DT in… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Dave
toucan
18 days ago

Funny that Chase Young only “met” Brady at game’s end. Donovan tied him up quite well. I wonder if he apologized to Brady for his talking crap last week.

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Spitfire
18 days ago

Everyone likes to focus on the negatives far too often, and rightly so because that’s what keeps you from winning championships in the end, but there were a lot of positives to be happy about. Larsen may not be Cappa but he played half the game and we still moved the ball. I love the AB quick passes to let him get YAC, they need more of that. Smith looked great. If our Oline can hold up against 4 number 1’s and we can get deep passes against a team that doesn’t give them and really should have doubled their… Read more »

Dave
17 days ago

Well I’m glad Chase Young practiced proper social distancing for the entire game. At least we know he’s taking covid seriously!

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FLBoy84
17 days ago

Glad to see Smith step up and play a full game up to his abilities, hopefully it’s a long term mindset change for him.

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pokerpat12
17 days ago

All true, these players all, did there job. O- line, U guys rock! Breaks my heart to see Cappa go down. We MUST have a plan to protect TB next week. I believe Godwin & Gronk will come up big next week, they’ll have to. AB nice work, keep on truckin’. All mentioned in this article made us proud, I’m sure the rest of the team will do so as well next week. Since this was the “Impressive” article I won’t discuss the defense. that’s a subject for another time. Continued success, Go Bucs!!!!

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SOXX
17 days ago

The blocking of OT Smith, OT Wirfs and TE Gronk. The smart passing of Brady, he takes whats there and throw’s away whats not. And of course the play of L. David on a run or a pass play he is our DPoY.

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Virtual_Camel
17 days ago

I hope they find a way to bring Cam back next year. It’s hard not to like the guy. Lots of money to be spent on contracts though. Donnie and Lenny played great so hats off to them. Proved most of us wrong including myself. Been calling Donovan a bum for quite some time.

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Eddie
16 days ago

I reviewed the recording of this game and saw Gronk was on Young about 50% of the plays. But Donovan also played well but not sure what the outcome will be without Gronk. But at least one hurried on Tom came because Donovan was beaten by their DT, not a speed guy like Young.

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plopes808
15 days ago

We all knew about playoff Tom, now we know we have playoff Mike, Donovan, Lavonte and Lenny too! Every time I think we should trade or cut Brate to make cap space, he shows why we shouldn’t.

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