The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin their 2021 postseason push with a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium in the NFC's wild card round. The game will be played Sunday, January 16 at 1:00 pm on FOX.
The Buccaneers concluded their 2021 regular season with a win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon, and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams at the same time made Tampa Bay the second seed in the NFC playoff standings. Philadelphia ended up as the seventh seed after losing to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.
Philadelphia is already the most common opponent in the Buccaneers' postseason history. This will be the fifth postseason meeting between the Buccaneers and Eagles, but the first since the 2002 NFC Championship Game. Tampa Bay won that game, 27-10, in Philadelphia after Ronde Barber returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown with three minutes left in regulation. Those Buccaneers would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVII, 48-21, over the Oakland Raiders.
The Buccaneers also beat the Eagles, 24-17, in the first playoff game in franchise history, a 1979 Divisional Playoff round contest in Tampa. The Eagles defeated the Buccaneers in Wild Card games in both 2000 and 2001, both times in Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay and Philadelphia met this season in Week Six, a Thursday night contest won by the visiting Buccaneers, 28-22, on the strength of two Leonard Fournette touchdown runs. The Bucs built a 28-7 lead in the third quarter but had to withstand two Jalen Hurts touchdown runs, icing the game with a drive that consumed the last six minutes of the clock.
The Eagles crashed the NFC playoff field by winning six of their last eight games, and their loss to Dallas on Saturday came in a contest in which Philadelphia played most of the games with reserves on both sides of the ball. The Eagles had a long list of players on the reserve/COVID-19 list heading into their Week 18 game, and had elevated 10 players from the practice squad in response, but had already clinched a playoff spot and didn't have any pressing seeding concerns.
The Eagles entered the final weekend of the regular season ranked 14th on offense and seventh on defense in terms of yards allowed. They were 11th in the NFL in terms of point differential, with an average of +5.3 yards per game. Hurts, who didn't play in the season finale, threw for 3,144 yards and had a 16-9 TD-INT ratio and also ran for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Philadelphia's defense is led up front by sixth-year defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who led the team with 7.5 sacks and 18 quarterback hits. On the back end, veteran cornerback Darius Slay made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years – and for the first time as an Eagle – with three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.
The Buccaneers' 2021 regular season ended on Sunday with a franchise record 13 wins, but the real work is just beginning. Tampa Bay already has a long history with Philadelphia in the postseason, but this is the first time in more than four decades that the Eagles are coming to Florida for a playoff contest. The Bucs hope this is the beginning of another deep run into January and February.