The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up their first playoff win since Super Bowl 37 -- that was on January 26, 2003 -- in a 31-23 win over the Washington Football Team.
The game was a lot closer than pundits -- and fans -- had predicted beforehand, as Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke played an inspiring game subbing for Alex Smith, who was ruled inactive prior to the game. Passing and scrambling for yards throughout the game, Heinicke kept the Buccaneers defense on its heels throughout. A late third-quarter touchdown cut the Bucs' lead to two, 18-16.
But the Bucs added a 36-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, got a big three-and-out on Washington's next drive, then followed up that with a seven-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a three-yard Leonard Fournette touchdown run, extending the Buccaneers' lead to 12, 28-16, with 9:11 left.
But Heinicke, who many thought would miss the rest of the game after injuring his shoulder, came back to lead Football Team on another impressive drive, as Tampa Bay's secondary leaked like a sieve, ending in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims with 4:57 left , cutting the Bucs' lead to 28-23.
The Bucs then responded on the next drive. Brady completed a 35-yard pass to Mike Evans, then Leonard Fournette went around the right end for 11 yards. Washington started burning timeouts after that run, but on second down Daron Payne sacked Brady, and Washington burned its last time out. Ryan Succop added a 37-yard field goal to stretch Tampa Bay's lead to 8 with 2:49 left.
A Lavonte David sack with 2:00 left forced a 4th and 21 for Washington from their own 40, but at that point, Heinicke ran out of magic, as a pass fell incomplete.
The Buccaneers jumped to an 18-7 halftime lead, as the Tampa Bay offensive line managed to keep Chase Young's hands off Tom Brady, who passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns in the first half -- a 38-yarder to Antonio Brown in the first quarter and a 27-yarder to Chris Godwin in the second. A blocked PAT after the first touchdown caused Bruce Arians to go for two after the second touchdown, but that attempt failed as well.
The Buccaneers will not go to Green Bay next weekend to face the top-seeded Packers, and have to await the outcome of Sunday's Bears-Saints game to see if they either host a game against the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, or travel to New Orleans to face the Saints for the third time this season.
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