3 Takeaways from Buccaneers' Playoff Win vs. Eagles

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 18, 2022

3 Takeaways from Buccaneers' Playoff Win vs. Eagles

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in nearly two decades. And their quest to do so got off to a strong start in the NFC Wild Card Round on Sunday afternoon.

    As the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the Buccaneers hosted the Philadelphia Eagles, who were the last team in the conference to get into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. It quickly turned into a lopsided matchup, as Tampa Bay cruised to a 31-15 victory at Raymond James Stadium.

    The Bucs had a 31-0 lead after three quarters, dominating the majority of the game. Tampa Bay led 17-0 at halftime, then Tom Brady threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to widen the advantage.

    If the Buccaneers hope to become the first team to capture consecutive championships since the New England Patriots (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX), they'll need three more wins. They're set to host the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round on Sunday.

    Here are three takeaways from Tampa Bay's playoff win over Philadelphia.

The Offense Still Has Enough Playmakers to Have Success

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    There was some concern heading into the playoffs that the Buccaneers may not have enough playmakers in their receiving corps to have offensive success. Chris Godwin is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and Tampa Bay released Antonio Brown prior to the end of the regular season.

    But the Bucs had no trouble moving the ball down the field against the Eagles. Mike Evans had nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown, and Rob Gronkowski had five catches for 31 yards and a score. They'll continue to be the primary targets for Brady, who received praise from Evans after the game.

    "When he came to this team, I knew he was going to change the franchise," Evans said, per Sean T. McGuire of NESN. "He's done that and then some. He makes sure we're all ready to play. He makes sure we know what we're doing. And he makes sure we're giving it our all, and that's all you can ask for as a leader."

    Tampa Bay also had some success on the ground, as Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard each scored a rushing touchdown. The Buccaneers had 106 rushing yards, and that was without starting running back Leonard Fournette, who could return at some point during the playoffs.

    If Fournette returns and Brady continues to lead the passing attack to success (which seems likely), then the Bucs' offense should be in good shape. And that would be bad news for opposing defenses.

A Healthier Defense May Be Peaking at Right Time

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Buccaneers got several injured defensive players back for their matchup against the Eagles. Pass rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul returned to action, as did linebacker Lavonte David, giving Tampa Bay some needed reinforcements on that side of the ball.

    It didn't take long for that trio to make an impact. Barrett notched an interception, which was one of three turnovers that the Buccaneers forced. Mike Edwards also had a pick, while Tampa Bay recorded two sacks, six tackles for a loss and seven pass deflections.

    "It felt like we were getting our swag back," Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean said, per The Athletic's Greg Auman.

    Philadelphia was held scoreless for the first 47 minutes and 52 seconds of the game. Its two touchdowns came after things were well out of reach. The Eagles' first 10 possessions resulted in six punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and the clock running out at the end of the first half.

    Although the Buccaneers' defense had a dominant showing, they'll face a more challenging test when they take on the Rams in the divisional round. But if this is a sign of things to come for Tampa Bay, its defense could have success even against strong offenses moving forward.

The Bucs Have a Chance to Make Another Deep Run

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    In 2020, the Buccaneers won their final four regular-season games and then went on to capture the Super Bowl title. This season, they won seven of their final eight regular-season games and then opened the playoffs with a win over the Eagles. Could it be the start of another run to a championship?

    Brady can never be counted out, considering he's a seven-time Super Bowl champion. And he hasn't lost a playoff game since joining the Bucs, as they're now 5-0 over the past two postseasons.

    The other three remaining teams in the NFC will be tough competition. The AFC champion is sure to be a strong team that will have outlasted numerous challenging opponents. If the Buccaneers are going to win another title, they're going to have to take down formidable foes along the way.

    However, Tampa Bay made it to the Super Bowl by winning three road games last season. This time, it opened at home, will host Los Angeles in the divisional round and could even host the NFC Championship Game if the Green Bay Packers get upset by the San Francisco 49ers this week.

    With Brady, a healthier defense and either one or two more home games, the Bucs may be in a better position to make a run than they were last season. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if they make it happen.