LANDOVER, Md. – – New team, the same successful playoff for Tom Brady.
Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past Washington 31-23 in his NFC wild card game on Saturday night for his first playoff victory of the 2002 season. Brady was critical of his game and performance. of the offense in the red zone, but was pleased to take his 31st victory after a season in his career.
“There’s certainly a lot to improve, but it’s great to win,” said Brady, who was 22 of the 40 pitchers. “If you can win 100-0, it will end up being the same result. You would like to play great in any game. I think it’s good to win and progress. ”
In his 42nd start to the season and first out of uniform with the New England Patriots, Brady took full advantage of the lack of early pressure to build a lead against the second-ranked NFL defense, which he endured.
Brady had to overtake Taylor Heinicke of Washington, who had a breakthrough in just his second professional start and first in the playoffs in place of injured starter Alex Smith. Heineke – signed in early December for the training team – ran for 46 yards and a touchdown and threw for 306 yards and a score.
“He almost beat us with his feet,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians. “He was very elusive. We knew that they would climb around, there would be bootlegs and quarrels. We really hoped for Alex because we knew part of the game wouldn’t be there. “
But Heineke was not enough to overcome Brady’s brilliance. While Bill Belichik and the Patriots watch from home with a series of playoffs, broken at 11 after season 7-9, Brady has the opportunity to play in another Super Bowl – at his new home stadium.
“We are excited about the victory,” said Cameron Brate. “I hate to say we’re relieved, but at the moment we’re just pumped up that we won. As ugly as it was, no matter how many mistakes we made, victory is victory at this time of year. “
The Buccaneers are waiting for the result from Chicago in New Orleans on Sunday to see if they will visit Drew Breeze and the Saints or host the Los Angeles Rams next weekend. They would need upset bears to play at home in the divisional round.
“It doesn’t matter,” Arians said. “We are playing. That’s all that matters. “
Age doesn’t seem to matter much to Brady, who spent 159 days at the age of 43 as George Bland as the oldest player to pass a TD in a playoff game. A 36-yard goal with Antonio Brown was Brady’s longest in the playoffs since 2011.
Brady was methodical in the first half with 12 performances for 209 yards and was not fired until the last minute of the second quarter.
Heineke made things interesting in the third, mostly fighting for an 8-yard TD, diving on the pylon in the corner of the end zone. The play even caught the attention of the ruling Super Bowl champion Patrick Maomes, who wrote on Twitter: “Brother what!?!?!”
The 27-year-old hit his left shoulder and did not look the same the next time he drove. While Heinicke was being considered, Brady designed a 69-yard drive, limited by a 3-yard TD driven by Fournette, which made 28-16 and was enough to withstand Heinicke’s attempt to be the unlikely hero.
“He made the throws he had to make,” Kendall Fuller told Brady in Washington.
After Smith came out because of a tense right calf, Heineke made a name for himself in prime time, setting a record for the eponymous quarterback franchise and raising the question of whether he should be considered Washington’s QB in the future.
“It was stupid,” said coach Ron Rivera. “It’s one of those things that a man like him works hard at what he’s doing, he’s created an opportunity for himself and we’ll see what happens.”
Heineke had appeared in just eight games and started one in the NFL before Saturday and was taking part in online math classes at the Old Dominion when Washington called on him to be his “quarantine defender.”
“When I first came here about a month ago, I didn’t know much about him,” said successor Terry McLaren. “The first time I even got a pass from him was last week. But he won my respect.
Brown has a TD catch in four consecutive games dating back to the regular season, tying the second longest series in franchise history. Mike Evans holds the record in six games and was Tampa Bay’s best receiver against Washington with six catches for 119 yards.
Maybe there’s something in the FedEx Field game that gives the best in Brown. In his only other game in Washington in 2016 with Pittsburgh, he had eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Evans played through a knee injury suffered at the end of the regular season. Arians said Evans was 85-90% healthy.
Buccaneers: RG Alex Cappa left late in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Arians said it looked like a fracture and was expecting additional X-rays, but added that it “didn’t look good” for Cappa to play next weekend.
Washington: RB Antonio Gibson limped after a game in the first quarter, but remained. He is dealing with a prolonged toe injury that caused him to miss two recent matches.
Washington: Lost in the wild card round, just like his last playoff appearance five years ago.
Buccaneers: In the divisional round next weekend he will visit Drew Breeze and the Saints if New Orleans beat Chicago, or host the Los Angeles Rams if the Bears pull out an upset Sunday.