Buccaneers hang on against Washington to advance to divisional round for first time since 2002 season


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved onto the divisional round of the NFC playoffs with a victory against the Washington Football Team, 31-23, on Saturday night.

It’s the first time Tampa Bay had played in the divisional round since the 2002 season when the Jon Gruden-led team won the Super Bowl.

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It was a Tom Brady performance NFL fans are used to, though the game was a bit closer than the team probably would have liked. Brady was 22-for-40 with 381 passing yards and two touchdown passes. He was sacked three times and didn’t throw any interceptions.

Brady’s first touchdown pass went to Antonio Brown in the first quarter. It was a 36-yard score to give the Buccaneers a 9-0 lead. Brady would connect with Chris Godwin in the second quarter on a 27-yard pass. Tampa Bay would lead 18-7 at halftime.

Washington and Taylor Heinicke would make it an interesting game in the second half.

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Heinicke ran for an 8-yard score with 2:14 left in the third quarter to bring the game to within two points.

Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) dives to score a touchdown against Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebackers Kevin Minter (51) and Lavonte David (54) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) dives to score a touchdown against Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebackers Kevin Minter (51) and Lavonte David (54) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

After a Tampa Bay field goal and a touchdown run from Leonard Fournette, Heinicke threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr. to cut the lead to five points with 4:51 left in the game. Washington needed a score and a two-point conversion at the end of the game to potentially force overtime but came up just a bit short.

Heinicke, who trended on social media because of his gutsy performance starting for Alex Smith, was 26-for-44 with 306 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. He led the team in rushing yards with 46.

Cam Sims led all Washington receivers with seven catches for 104 yards.

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Tampa Bay, the No. 5 seed, could have a matchup with the New Orleans Saints next week in the divisional round.

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