Led by a stifling defense and an impressive performance from Baker Mayfield, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it out of the Wild Card round with a 23-point victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. It marked the second largest margin of victory over the weekend and propels the Bucs to a showdown in Motown with the Detroit Lions next Sunday.
It also brings the Bucs within a game of returning to the NFC Championship Game against all odds.
After losing six of seven games to fall to 4-7 and third in the NFC South at the midseason mark, the Buccaneers have enjoyed a sensational late-season turnaround with wins in six of their last seven games.
The script has been completely flipped.
"We stayed the course," Todd Bowles said. "We knew the things that we had mistakes on. We knew the things we had to correct and we just kept tugging the chain going forward, pulling forward, pulling forward. And then you're seeing the results at the end."
It was a total team effort on Monday night, with every level finding ways to succeed. Baker Mayfield led the Bucs to over 30 points, and the defense even added an assist in the box score thanks to a safety late in the game.
Tom Brady posts perfect reaction to Buccaneers huge Wild Card win over Eagles
The win has cast the Bucs in a new light, with plenty of players, analysts, and fans taking note. One of those players knows Tampa Bay pretty well, as Tom Brady was at home watching his old team and celebrated the big win on social media.
Tampa Bay’s defense allowed just 276 total yards of offense to the Eagles, while sacking Jalen Hurts three times, including an important safety by Anthony Nelson that ultimately shifted the trajectory of the game.
The steady play of Baker Mayfield also proved to be crucial in the playoff victory. Against Philadelphia, Mayfield completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 337 passing yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 119.8 passer rating. As a result, Mayfield became just the second quarterback in Buccaneers franchise history to record 300-plus passing yards in a playoff game.
The only other QB to do so? Tom Brady, who is regarded as the greatest player of all time in the history of football.
In Tampa Bay's 31-23 win over Washington in the 2020 wild card game, Brady completed 20-41 (47.8%) of his passes for 365 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 104.3 passer rating. That would prove to be the first of four playoff victories for the Buccaneers, who would defeat the Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl 55 under Brady's guidance.
Mayfield still has some distance left to run before he’s considered in the same sentence as Brady, but he’s making a case for himself to be a worthy successor to the throne with his play this postseason.
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