The Bucs opened up a huge, 31-0 lead over the Eagles in the second half of Tampa Bay’s 31-15 Wild Card playoff win at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay’s offense had another big day from quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Mike Evans, who scored his fourth touchdown in the last three games. Led by safeties Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield, Jr., the Bucs defense rose to the occasion and forced two Jalen Hurts interceptions and sacked him twice.
The Bucs advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs and will host a playoff game at Ray-Jay next week, depending on the outcomes of the San Francisco at Dallas and Arizona at Los Angeles Wild Card games.
Here are this week’s most impressive Buccaneers:
QB Tom Brady
Brady started the game hot, completing passes to nine different Bucs weapons by the second quarter. The 44-yard quarterback was sacked three times in the first half, but when he wasn’t on the ground he was completing 20-of-25 passes for 159 yards by halftime. Brady threw his first touchdown on a 2-yard play-action pass to Rob Gronkowski to give the Bucs a 24-0 lead in third quarter. His second touchdown pass came on a 36-yard strike to Mike Evans to give Tampa Bay a 31-0 lead. Brady finished the game completing 29-of-37 passes for 271 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
WR Mike Evans
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: USA Today
Evans got into the action early with two catches for 10 yards on the first drive, including an 8-yarder to move the chains. Evans had six catches for 61 yards by halftime, and then hauled in a 17-yard pass in the red zone to set the Bucs up at the Philadelphia 2-yard line. Tampa Bay would go up 24-0 on the next play. Evans added to the scoring himself on the next series, catching a 36-yard pass and vaulting into the end zone in the third quarter. That reception put Evans over 100 yards for the day and the third time this season. Evans finished the game with nine catches for 117 yards and a TD.
NCB/S Mike Edwards
Edwards got the start at nickel cornerback in place of the injured Sean Murphy-Bunting and had a huge day. Playing in the slot and also at safety, Edwards led Tampa Bay with nine tackles and also had a clutch interception of Jalen Hurts in the second quarter. When Jamel Dean fell down in coverage, Edwards raced over from his safety spot to step in front of DeVonta Smith in the end zone for a key INT. Edwards led the Bucs in tackles with nine.
FS Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Winfield was an effective blitzer, notching a sack on Hurts in the second quarter and nearly getting another one right before halftime. He had five tackles on the day and one of two sacks for Tampa Bay’s defense.
ILB Devin White
White started the game on a tear, with a great open-field tackle on running back Boston Scott for a 1-yard gain on a reception, setting up a third-and-2. Then on the next down, White and safety Jordan Whitehead teamed up to tackle Jalen Hurts for a 3-yard loss to force a punt. White played under control and looked comfortable on Sunday with the return of Lavonte David. He finished with five tackles, one pass breakup and three QB hits on blitzes.
SS Jordan Whitehead
Bucs ILB Devin White and SS Jordan Whitehead – Photo by: USA Today
Whitehead teamed with White to tackle Hurts for a 3-yard loss to end the Eagles’ first possession on third-and-2. Then Whitehead made a nice 5-yard stop on Miles Sanders to set up a second-and-15 on Philadelphia’s second possession, which ended in a punt. Whitehead finished the game with six tackles.
CBs Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean
Dean and Davis were quite good in coverage and also in run support. It was probably one of the best games Dean has played in during his three-year NFL career. He finished with seven tackles and a pass breakup. Davis nearly had three interceptions, but dropped them. He finished with five tackles.
RB Giovani Bernard
Bernard was a key player on the Bucs’ first touchdown drive. He caught two passes for 15 yards and then scoring his first rushing TD of the year with a 2-yard plunge. Bernard came through with a 22-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass. That play helped set up another Bucs touchdown. Bernard had a season-high 44 yards and a TD on 13 carries, in addition to five catches for 39 yards on the day.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Vaughn, who started in place of the injured Leonard Fournette, got his day started with a 17-yard, tackle-breaking run on his first carry. On the Bucs’ second possession of the game, Vaughn scored a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Vaughn moved the chains in the second quarter with a 5-yard catch and had two catches for nine yards and 41 yards rushing at halftime. He finished the game with 53 yards on 17 carries.
WR Scotty Miller
Bucs WR Scotty Miller – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Miller made an impact special teams play in the third quarter, forcing a fumble with a hit on Jaelen Reagor, which was recovered by defensive back Ross Cockrell. That was a big, momentum-changing play, as Tampa Bay scored a touchdown on the next play.
OLB Shaq Barrett
Barrett returned to action from a sprained knee and came up with a huge play in the third quarter. Although he was pretty much owned by right tackle Lane Johnson as a pass rusher, Barrett dropped in coverage and tipped a Hurts pass to himself for a big interception that changed momentum. That was Barrett’s first postseason pick and the third of his career. Barrett had one in the regular season.