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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 15

The Buccaneers earn the right to advance after topping the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, 31-15, in the Wild Card Round of the NFC Playoffs. 


The visitors won the toss as the Philadelphia Eagles called heads and elected to defer. It meant the Buccaneers offense was up first and they started off with a bang. The first play was a handoff to Ke'Shawn Vaughn who bulldozed his way up the middle for a 17-yard gain. From there, Brady mixed it up until the Bucs found themselves with first and goal at the four-yard line. Two carries later and it would be Giovani Bernard, freshly returned from injury, who scored his first rushing touchdown of the year. The drive spanned 12 plays, 75 yards and took five minutes off the clock to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead.

It was the Buccaneer defense's turn to step up, coming out in their nickel formation with safety Antoine Winfield Jr. occupying the slot in Sean Murphy-Bunting's absence. They forced a three-and-out by the Eagles after both Jordan Whitehead and Devin White converged on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts on third down after he decided to pull the ball and run it himself. He got nowhere and the Eagles punted.

Unfortunately, after getting to midfield the Bucs would trade a punt right back as Brady fired over the middle for Breshad Perriman but it fell incomplete.

The Buccaneers defense forced another punt, though the Eagles would at least manage a first down thanks to an offsides penalty by Tampa Bay on their next drive. They wouldn't get anything else as they punted back to the Bucs.

The next drive was productive, if not a little scary. After an injury to right tackle Tristan Wirfs on the first drive, the Bucs scored another touchdown on a handoff to Vaughn but center Ryan Jensen injured his ankle on the play. The Bucs went up 14-0 just as the first quarter was about to expire.

The Eagles' drive would again be a short one as the Bucs' defense forced them to punt behind a big third-down sack of Hurts by Winfield Jr. The Bucs took back over with 14:08 remaining in the second quarter and Jensen back in at center.

The Bucs got all the way down to the five-yard line before a couple incompletions and a tackle for loss of Bernard would force them into a third and nine situation they wouldn't convert. Instead, kicker Ryan Succop came on and nailed a 34-yard field goal to put the Bucs up 17-0 with 9:16 left in the first half.

Philadelphia finally got a taste of Buccaneers territory on their next drive but would only end up as far as the Bucs' 37-yard line. They'd go for it on fourth down and 10 with no points on the board and cornerback Carlton Davis would break up Hurts' pass to turn the ball over on downs.

With 3:49 to work with, the Bucs took back over but on third down and seven, Brady was sacked and the Bucs went three-and-out, giving the Eagles another chance before the half with 2:23 on the clock.

They'd get the furthest they'd gone all game thanks to a 35-yard completion to Quez Watkins but just as the Eagles found themselves with some momentum, safety Mike Edwards came streaking across the field and intercepted Hurts' pass at the goal line to stop Philly cold.

The Bucs would get the ball back but would go three-and-out behind yet another third down sack of Brady and then punt it back to Philly, who had 27 seconds left.

After an unsuccessful first down, the Eagles let the clock run out and the teams went into the half with the Bucs up 17-0.

The Eagles got the ball to begin the second half after deferring the coin toss but wouldn't be able to put any points on the board as the Bucs' defense clamped down and forced a Philly punt from about midfield.

It meant Tampa Bay would take over inside their own 10-yard line and after a good first-down run by Vaughn, they wouldn't be able to get anything else. It didn't end up mattering though because on the ensuing punt, Philadelphia fumbled the return and defensive back Ross Cockrell recovered it, allowing the Bucs' offense to maintain possession and progress to the Eagles' 48 with 10:35 left in the third quarter.

Tampa Bay would capitalize in a big way as the offense moved methodically down the field. It ultimately ended in a two-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronk, just like old times, to give the Bucs' offense some further cushion at 24-0, halfway through the third quarter.

The Bucs weren't done yet. On the next Philadelphia possession, it was none other than outside linebacker Shaq Barrett who tipped a pass from Hurts up into the air and caught it himself with one hand. One play later, Brady let one rip for Evans downfield. The defender managed to get a hand on Evans but he barely tripped as he made his way into the end zone on a somersault, no less. He then flipped the ball to left tackle Donovan Smith so the big man could spike the ball and the Bucs went up 31-0 in a hurry.

Before the third quarter could even expire, the Bucs forced another punt by the Eagles, giving the ball back to the Bucs' offense at their own 19. They wouldn't be able to do anything with that possession and traded a punt right back to the Eagles.

…who would then trade another punt back. The Bucs then took over at the end of the third quarter at their own 38. They would keep it on the ground trying to run the clock down and would eventually punt it back to the eagles with 12:48 remaining in the game.

For the first time in the game, the Eagles would find the end zone. With the Buccaneers playing a prevent defense, Philly was able to go down the field and running back Boston Scott would escape up the middle and into the end zone on a 34-yard run to make the score 31-7 with 12:08 to play in the game.

The Bucs would advance the ball a bit on their next drive but ultimately not convert it into points as they punted the ball back to the Eagles. Good field position on the punt meant the Eagles took over at their own seven-yard line.

They'd move the ball again and score on a pass to wide receive Kenneth Gainwell. After a successful two-point conversion on an impossible pass to DeVonta Smith, the Eagles cut the Bucs' lead to 31-15 with 4:45 to play.

The Bucs' starters stayed in and would move the ball after taking over in Eagles' territory after their attempt at an onsides kick. They'd methodically move the chains, forcing Philly to use all three of their timeouts. They'd take the game to the two-minute warning as they crossed into the red zone, faced with third and two at the Philly 15. They'd get one more on third down to bring up fourth and one. Brady called timeout after the play clock ran down with 1:16 to go before the Bucs went for it.

They wouldn't get it on the pitch to Bernard in the backfield and the Eagles would take over with 1:11 left and no timeouts at their own 16-yard line. They'd try a couple plays but wouldn't get anything and the game ended with the Bucs on top 31-15 and advancing to the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs.

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