The Buccaneers went into Washington and beat the NFC east Champions 31-23 as they advanced to the NFL playoffs’ divisional round.
The Bucs will play on the road in New Orleans next week against the Saints. The Bucs have struggled against the Saints this year, going 0-2, and are looking to redeem themselves.
There was a lot to like with the Bucs offense against Washington. They put 31 points on the third-ranked defense in the NFL, a team that was giving up just over 20 points a game.
The Bucs rolled up 507 yards of offense led by Tom Brady’s 381 passing yards and the running of Leonard Fournette, who had 132 yards of total offense.
Brady’s 381 passing yards (a new Buccaneer postseason record) are the second-most in a playoff road win in NFL history. Hall-of-Famer Dan Fouts still holds that record as he threw for 433 yards in the 1981 divisional playoffs in Miami in a. 41-38 win.
Give credit to Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke who kept the Bucs defense off balance with his scrambling ability and ability to make throws when he needed to.
Heinicke, who had thrown 126 passes in his NFL career before the start against the Bucs, passed for 306 yards and led The Washington Football Team in rushing with 46 yards on six carries.
The Bucs offensive line did a great job keeping the Washington defensive line ice check. They gave Tom Brady time to throw most of the night and kept one of the NFL’s best defensive lines off Brady.
Tackle Donavan Smith, who has had his issues, had one of his career’s best games as he shut down Washington rookie Chase Young for most of the night. Young registered three tackles, none for a loss, and had zero quarterback hits.
Brady had high praise for his offensive line. “They did a great job,” said Brady of his offensive linemen. “Those guys played their butts off. Tristan did a great job; Donnie played a hell of a game. It was a great test for us.”
Mike Evans set a new Buccaneer postseason record catching six passes for 119 yards.
A couple of disappointing things, Wide receiver Chris Godwin dropped four passes in the game. Godwin, very sure handed, had one of the worst games of his career but still finished the game with five catches for 79 yards and one touchdown.
Godwin is playing for a contract extension and has made big catches for the team since his arrival. The man deserves a mulligan at least once.
The Bucs offense in the red zone was just one for five. The offense will need to do better than that to beat the Saints. The Bucs had to settle for four field goals.
Defensively, the Bucs did not play well at all. They allowed the 30th ranked offense in the NFL to pretty much move the ball at will.
In the Last half of the fourth quarter, the Bucs defense began to play with a sense of urgency, and Lavonte David sacked Taylor Heinicke on a third-down play for an 11-yard loss to force a fourth and long, which Washington failed to convert.
Bruce Arians, who can be brutally honest, talked about his defense and the big play by Lavonte David. “It was great because we weren’t tackling worth a shit the whole game. We finally got him when it mattered. I don’t think it was the best our defense has played in a long time. It was terrible, up until the last eight minutes.”
The defense will need a much better effort against Drew Brees and the Saints next weekend.
Offensively this team can play with anybody and has been peaking at just the right time. Defensively, there is a lot to work. Adjustments will need to be made if the Bucs are to advance in the playoffs.