It has been 13 years, 156 months, and 4,745 days since the Bucs last qualified for the playoffs. Today the Buccaneers broke that streak as the Buccaneers punched their ticket to the NFL playoffs.
The Bucs did it in dramatic fashion playing one of their most complete games of the season, smashing the Detroit Lions 47-7.
The Bucs outgained the Lions 588-186, a difference of 402 yards, the largest margin in Bucs history.
The Bucs set numerous other records today.
-Most points in a half 34.
-Most offensive yards in franchise history with 588
-Tom Brady, setting a new team record with 36 touchdown passes in a season.
-Mike Evans 13 touchdown passes by a receiver, setting a new franchise record.
-The Buccaneers 6-2 record on the road tying the 2002 and the 2010 Buccaneers for the best road record in franchise history.
This was the kind of performance the Bucs needed as they have their sights set on winning more than one playoff game.
Tom Brady had a perfect QB rating of 158.3 as he passed for 347 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, the third perfect game of Brady’s career.
Take the second half against Atlanta last week, and combine it with the first half today against the Lions; Brady threw for 668 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 yards in a game. That is an incredible number.
Mike Evans had his best game of the season and his fourth 100 yard game of the season as he had ten catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Evans needed 221 yards going into this game to get 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh consecutive season.
Although he came up just a bit short today, Evans will need 39 yards next week against the Falcons to set a new NFL record with seven consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.
This will be the first playoff appearances for two long time Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David and wide receiver Mike Evans.
Evans, speaking with the media after the game, talked about the clinching playoff win against the Lions. “It was a great moment, a great experience. “We’ve been scratching and clawing every single year to try to make the tournament. It’s been seven years for me, nine for Lavonte, eight for Will Gholston. It’s been a journey, but we are happy we finally accomplished it.”
Lavonte David, happy to be in the playoffs, knows that there is still work to do, “It’s a great feeling, an amazing feeling, and I’m blessed to be a part of it. We have to keep climbing, keep on grinding. We got a chance to get in the tournament, so now it’s about what you’re going to do while you’re there.”
The Bucs are 10-5 for the first time since 2005 and will go for their 11th win of the season next week against the Atlanta Falcons.
This will be coach Bruce Arians’ first trip to the playoffs since 2015. “It’s just the beginning. Our goal when we started, especially this year, was to get in the dance. Now it’s to win 11 games, really, really proud of our guys.”
The Bucs are the fifth seed in the NFC and would go on the road to play the winner of the NFC East as they have a half game lead on the LA Rams.
The big game for Bucs fans Sunday will be the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams win, and they move to the fifth seed knocking the Bucs to the sixth seed. The Seahawks win, and the Bucs hold on to the fifth seed with a win against Atlanta next week.
The two areas of concern coming out of the game were on special teams. Kicker Ryan Succop missed two extra points and a 42-yard field goal, while Jamal Agnew returned a 74-yard punt for a touchdown.
Arians talked about the special teams’ play, “Our special teams were a little shaky today. Succop just hates this turf, and it showed today. I wanted that goose egg, and we gave up that punt return. Everything can’t be perfect but I’m always looking for perfect.”
The team needed to improve on two areas; getting off to a solid start and getting the running game going. The Buccaneers accomplished both today.
The Bucs got the quick start they wanted, jumping out to a 13-0 lead with 7:39 to go in the first quarter. The Bucs were also able to run the ball with authority as they averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 111 yards.
When the final gun sounded, this was the complete game that the Bucs have been looking to play the last few weeks. Now it’s about playoff seeding. The Bucs win next week, and everything will take care of itself.