What a way to end day one of "Super Wildcard" weekend, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fighting off the Washington Football Team, defeating them 31-23. Tom Brady got his 31st playoff win, continuing to be the most winning QB in playoff history.
Washington certainly gave the Bucs a run for their money, as Taylor Heinicke lit the Bucs' defense on fire today. At one point, Washington was able to catch up to possibly take the lead. Unfortunately for them, the Buccaneers were able to hold onto Heinicke and his possible game-winning drive.
Nonetheless, here are five takeaways from Saturday night.
#5 Jaguars made a mistake of releasing Fournette
The Jacksonville Jaguars might have made a mistake releasing their former first-round running back. Leonard Fournette went off the charts tonight against Washington, filling in for Ronald Jones II, who suffered an injury pregame. Fournette had 19 carries for 93 yards with a touchdown. He also had four receptions for 39 yards as well.
The depth that the Bucs have had in running back is certainly one of the best in the league. Behind RJII, Fournette and LeSean McCoy (who was inactive tonight) have helped Brady in the backfield.
#4 Washington needs to work on its secondary
Throughout the night, Washington's number two ranked defense struggled against Brady and his superior offense. Specifically the secondary, which allowed Brady to throw for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Mike Evans had 6 receptions for 119 yards in what was a questionable game for him coming into Saturday night.
Washington has proved their front four are likely the best in the league, but with plenty of cap space and draft picks to work within the offseason, they could certainly overhaul the secondary to make it a true top-5 defense.
#3 Could Taylor Heinicke be a starting QB?
The biggest highlight for Washington was QB Taylor Heinicke, who was Washington's "COVID" quarterback after the incident with the Denver Broncos that left the team with no active QBs on their roster. Heinicke showed fans what he could do against the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, but tonight he showed even more promise of his capabilities.
Heinicke completed 26/44 passes for 306 yards, two total touchdowns, and a tipped interception. The performance from Heinicke has not been seen by a quarterback in Washington since Robert Griffin III was the starting quarterback, which says a lot about the QB situation for this team.
Considering Heinicke's ties with Ron Rivera from his time in Carolina, they will likely bring him back and possibly open it up for competition between him and a new QB.
#2 The team with no name showed a lot of promise
All things aside, Washington was still able to fight against a top-five offense and defense, as well as a QB who doesn't let age impact his performance. Had Alex Smith gone under center for this team, it could have possibly been a worse situation for the team. Considering how Smith was visibly uncomfortable against the Eagles in Week 17, Rivera made the right decision to start Heinicke over him.
Washington's defense made a name for themselves in the regular season, Alex Smith gave this team a 5-1 record to end up 7-9, all under head coach Ron Rivera's first season. This was the first time a Washington head coach has taken the team to the playoffs in their first season since 1971 when George Allen led Washington to a 9-4-1 record and took them to the divisional round.
#1 Tom Brady and his offense could be unstoppable in the playoffs
It's clear why Tom Brady left New England, and it's all because of the support he would have in Tampa Bay.
With the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scott Miller, and Rob Gronkowski lining up with him, there is no question that Brady has a stellar supporting cast.
On top of all that, the offensive line protected Brady well and only suffered hardship late into the game, with only three sacks allowed against the Washington front-four. Despite not having home-field advantage, Brady and his offense could be unstoppable all the way through the playoffs.Published 10 Jan 2021, 18:21 IST