With wins in five of their last six games and their third straight NFC South division title, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the playoffs with plenty of momentum. On Monday Night, Tampa Bay continued their stout play, shutting down the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 to win to advance to the NFC divisional round.
This miracle run the team is on continues.
After dismantling Philly, the Buccaneers will prepare to play the No. 2 seed Detroit Lions at Ford Field next Sunday to continue their quest for yet another Super Bowl title. While Tampa Bay entered Monday as six-point underdogs to Philadelphia and are six-point underdogs to Detroit, being the underdog is nothing new for the Buccaneers.
“We were underdogs, we’re going to be underdogs next week, too,” Todd Bowles said. “We understand that. We embrace it. We like it.”
Let's re-live Baker Mayfield's masterful performance vs. Eagles one more time
At the center of Tampa Bay's Wild Card blowout win was Baker Mayfield, who was phenomenal against Philadelphia's stout defense.
In his third career playoff start, Mayfield completed 61.1% of his passes for 337 passing yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 119.8 passer rating. With that, Mayfield joined Tom Brady as the only quarterback in Tampa Bay franchise history to record 300-plus passing yards in a playoff game.
“We worked extremely hard to get a chance to be in the playoffs and we just wanted an opportunity. Our guys came out and played really really well," Mayfield said. "Once again, the defense played lights out. We’re happy, but we’ve still got more to go."
Against the Eagles, Mayfield completed passes to nine different receivers for an average of 15.3 yards per pass. Mayfield relied heavily on second-year TE Cade Otten, who caught eight of 11 targets for 89 receiving yards and served as a safe blanket over the middle of the field.
Even though Dave Canales' offensive scheme typically features short and intermediate passes, Mayfield thrived on deep throws, with his three touchdown passes coming from 23, 44, and 56 yards out.
After securing a 28-yard field goal from Chase McLaughlin on the game's opening drive and forcing a Philadelphia punt, Mayfield opened the scoring up on Tampa Bay's second drive. With 5:57 left in the first quarter, Mayfield dropped back and threw a crossing route to veteran receiver David Moore, who evaded four different Eagles with shifty juke moves to cross the goal line and give Tampa Bay an early 10-0 lead.
For the remainder of the half, Mayfield would contiune to make the right reads and lead Tampa Bay into scoring range, but Philadelphia's defense stood strong and held the Buccaneers to field goals of 48 and 54 yards by McLaughlin to only trail 16-9 at halftime.
Despite punting on their first two possessions of the second half, Mayfield and the offense would manage to catch a break, as Anthony Nelson wrapped up star QB Jalen Hurts and forced an intentional grounding penalty in the endzone, resulting in a safety and an 18-9 lead.
On the game's ensuing drive, Mayfield connected with Trey Palmer on a quick out route on 2nd-&-four, who evaded a tackle attempt from James Bradberry and sprinted to the endzone for a 54-yard touchdown.
Philadelphia would go on a nine-play, 56-yard drive and get to the Tampa Bay 17, before turning the ball over on downs after going for it on fourth down. Starting deep in their territory, Mayfield would complete all six of his passes, including a lofting 23-yard pass under heavy pressure that was hauled in by Chris Godwin to seal the wild card weekend victory.
“Everybody was on the same page, knowing what we were going to do offensively, schematically,” Mayfield said. “Came out and attacked. Obviously, got to make a few more plays overall on offense, but we made more than enough to win tonight.”
It was a masterful performance, one that proved he's been worth every single penny the Bucs spent to bring him in.