This past week was a great time for Bucs fans around the nation. For the first time in a long time, they did not have to win this game for a playoff spot. They were already in and were playing to keep the rhythm and to stay in the playoff spot in which they will play the NFC East winners. The Bucs dominated the Falcons unlike the first time these two teams played. This game was decided at the half and they were playing for records and incentives essentially.
For starters, Mike Evans has become the first ever player in NFL history to start his career with seven straight 1000 yard seasons. This is an accomplishment that not many guys will even have the opportunity to achieve, but this should be highly noted. Evans has been elite since he has stepped foot into the league and now he has a great QB throwing to him, so he is starting to receive the recognition he deserves. Right after he achieved this feat, he dropped a pass in the endzone which would have given him a score to cap off the drive, but he pulled up and hurt his knee. There was no MRI damage to the knee and it was said to be just a simple hyperextension, so hopefully he will be able to play against Washington this week.
The next feat that was achieved was getting Antonio Brown his quarter million dollar incentive. He had it in his contract to where if he were to get 45 catches and a playoff appearance then he would be paid that additional money. There were a few catches at the end of the game in which the outcome was already decided, and the clock could have been kneeled out and Tom Brady threw him some screen passes to get him to that number. Brady loves AB and this was one I was not worried about him getting.
Antoine Winfield Jr made his final case for defensive Rookie of the Year with a turnover on what looked like a scoop and score. He was later ruled down, but this play doused fire on the defense and they were playing lights out against the banged up Falcons offense. They were able to hold Atlanta early on until they scratched and clawed back in the game to cut it to a three point lead. All of their momentum was stopped by three straight touchdown drives by the Bucs offense to hold them off. Not to mention, Brady became one of only a handful of QBs to throw 40 TDs multiple times, but this has been the usual for the Greatest of all Time.
Now going into the playoff matchup, it couldn’t have gone any better. Washington’s offense is not explosive at all and the Bucs defense should be able to stop them. If you can stop the run, Alex Smith will not be able to throw it all over the field to get the win. As for their defense, Washington has one of the best fronts in football, so this will give Brady some issues. He faced issues when teams were able to get pressure on him and throw off the timing between him and his receivers. I think that Gronk’s blocking will be moreso used to chip Chase Young before leaving the line of scrimmage as often as possible. Tampa will also have to establish the run if they want to win this game. Dropping back to throw the ball 50 times against this team is a recipe for disaster. If you can neutralize this pass rush with the run and long, back breaking drives, I see Tampa winning the first round 24-13 to advance out of Wild Card weekend.