QB Shaun King threw a last-second game-winning TD pass against Washington in the preseason
The Washington Redskins wrote a ticket to Tampa Saturday afternoon. One week after defeating the Detroit Lions, 27-13, in a Wild Card matchup at FedEx Field, the Redskins will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Divisional Playoff Game at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs will play host to the Redskins on Saturday, January 15, at 4:15 p.m. As the third-seeded squad in the six-team NFC playoff field, Washington will be the highest-seeded survivor of the first weekend of action. The winner of Sunday's Vikings-Cowboys matchup in Minneapolis will head to St. Louis for the other NFC Divisional Playoff Game.
The Buccaneers have played the Redskins nine times previously, but never in the postseason. Tampa Bay last faced Washington in September, when the pre-season finale for each team was played in FedEx Field. In that contest, QB Shaun King hooked up with fellow rookie WR Darnell McDonald for a winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds of a 16-13 game. Tampa Bay thus finished the preseason undefeated. That was expected to be King's last live action of 1999, but injuries to Eric Zeier and Trent Dilfer forced King into the starting role in December and he has performed marvelously. King, who compiled a 4-1 record as a starter and also helped the Bucs win 16-3 at Seattle (11/28) in a relief role, will start against the Redskins.
Though Washington is making its first playoff appearance since 1992, the Redskins have a long and distinguished postseason history, as one might expect of one of the league's cornerstone franchises. The Redskins first began play in 1932 as the Boston Braves before moving to the capital and taking on their current nickname in 1937. The team's first NFL title also came in '37, as the 'Skins defeated the Chicago Bears, 28-21, in the championship game behind legendary quarterback Sammy Baugh.
Though the Redskins' most famous playoff game may be the 73-0 championship loss to the Bears at the end of the 1940 season, the franchise also went on to win another World Championship in 1942 and Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI.
Though Tampa Bay has never crossed paths with Washington in the postseason, the two have affected each other's playoff hopes in recent years. In 1996, the Redskins burst out to a 7-1 start but ended up just out of the playoff picture with a 9-7 record. On December 8, with Washington still sporting an 8-5 record, the Redskins came to Tampa and left with a 24-10 defeat. The Buccaneer defense, just beginning to establish itself as the unit that would finish in the top three each of the next three seasons, kept Washington out of the end zone until the game's final minutes and set up two scores with turnovers.
The Redskins gained a measure of revenge last year, snapping a three-game Buc winning streak in the series with a 20-16 win in Washington, D.C. on December 19. The Buccaneers, who had won three straight coming into that game to vault back into playoff contention, took a 16-7 lead into the final quarter of that game, only to see the Redskins post two field goals and a touchdown in the final quarter. TE Stephen Alexander caught six passes for 62 yards in the final period, including the game-winning 15-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay finished the season 8-8, one game out of the playoffs, although a victory over Washington would not have guaranteed the Bucs a playoff spot.
This will be Tampa Bay's second Divisional Playoff Game in the past three years, but the first at home since 1979. The Buccaneers won a Wild Card Game against Detroit in 1997 to earn a trip to Green Bay for the Divisional round, where the Packers came away with a 21-7 victory. Washington's last road playoff game occurred on January 9, 1993, when the 'Skins lost a Divisional Playoff Game at San Francisco, 20-13.
The winner of next Saturday's game in Raymond James Stadium will travel to St. Louis for the NFC Championship Game if the Rams also win their Divisional Playoff Game. A loss by the Rams on Sunday, January 16, would keep the winner of the Bucs-Redskins game at home for the chance to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.