Buccaneers return to action in NFC Wildcard rematch against Washington


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s been 309 days since the Buccaneers were last at FedExField where their playoff journey began in Landover, Maryland, on their way to the Super Bowl. It was the first playoff game for many of the Bucs players, and a memorable test in adversity. 

“It was a tough game,” said Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. “They were down but never out, and they made a lot of really clutch plays. A lot of guys really played good football for them. It’s a really great defensive front. There are some young players, but it’s all like fourth year, fifth year, sixth year. It’s a very young defense in that aspect, there are no 12-year guys and they’ve got some young guys that are really talented players.” 

“It was the first time for everyone – besides Tom (Brady) and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski),” said Bucs Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. “Mike (Evans) had never been in a playoff game. Chris (Godwin) and a lot of guys had never been in playoff games before when we were going into that game. It was different because there was no one in the stands. It was as different of a playoff game as we’ve ever been a part of. This group is a little different now because they have been through those experiences, but it was different for us that first game. Your first playoff game is different. It’s always different. It was a bunch of guys’ first playoff game. Do I think we played our best? No, but I think we did what we needed to do to get out of there with a win.” 

This time around, they at least know what they’re up against in quarterback Taylor Heinicke and are expecting a battle in all phases of the game. 

“You see the same thing you saw last year,” Leftwich said. “They have players everywhere. They have players everywhere and the record means nothing. We’ve been on the field with this group of men on the opposite side and we understand the players that they have on all levels of their defense. So, we know what we’re up against. We know that this is a good group – a bunch of high draft picks. You look over there and that’s all you see are draft picks. Guys that have been in a lot of different situations just with the game of football when they were in college, so these are big-time guys who know how to play the game of football. We understand who we’re up against. We had an opportunity to play against them last year, so we know what we have going against us on Sunday.” 

In looking at the statistics, what the Bucs are going up against is the worst pass defense in the league, trying to contain the best passing offense in the league. Washington is 32nd in the NFL, giving up 286.8 passing yards per game, while the Bucs are first in the NFL, throwing for 327.5 yards per game. The Bucs are also first in the league in points scored (32.5) and third in total offense (423.1). 

“It’s going to be a great football environment,” Brady said. “We’ve got to go on the road, the road’s going to be colder than we’re used to. We’ve got to go play great football and see if we can come off the bye (week) and start playing better than the way we’ve played.” 

The Bucs (6-2) and Washington (2-6) kick off at 1 p.m.

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