SportsPulse: The NFL’s first major triple ground card did not disappoint on Saturday. Mackenzie Salmon of USA TODAY Sports breaks the biggest story lines out of every game.
For the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a playoff.
Pirate-back Lafonte David effectively won 31-23 Saturday night at FedExField when he fought through a block to drop Washington midfielder Taylor Heinek 11 yards behind the melee streak with 2:22 to play in the NFC wild card game.
Credit Tom Brady, the 43-year-old midfielder, who scored his 31st playoff victory and the first time not wearing a New England uniform, advancing Tampa after the 11-5 season.
“He’s a fighter,” said the pirates running back to Leonard Fornett, who lunge 93 yards and land. “He plays hard, works hard, studies hard. He’s the right man for the job.”
Brady threw 381 yards and two touchdowns 22 of 40, which led to the football team’s high school break early including a 36-yard drop for receiver Antonio Brown and 27 yards to Chris Goodwin. That was enough to give Tampa a lead that they would never lose despite Brady’s bad soccer team being sent off three times and hitting him seven times in total.
The pressure hurt Tampa in the red, and a 1 in 5 night prompted Brady to assure that his unit “definitely has a lot to improve”. But the pirates still scored 507 yards off attack in victory and protected well enough for Buccaneers’ coach Bruce Arians to face Washington: “No, they didn’t scare us.”
Brady then said, “If you could win 100 to nothing, it would be the same.” “You liked to play great in every game, and I think it’s good to win and go forward, and if we don’t play well next week, we won’t be happy.
“So I’m happy we won, glad we got another week of work and we’re going to try and do a lot better this week and prepare for who’s our opponent.”
Heinicke, for his part, was impressed despite the late default. Pirates were already favors before Alex Smith was disqualified from Team Washington due to a calf injury that impeded his mobility and stunt functions. Heinicke, in only his second career start, showed athleticism and seemed unperturbed by Buccaneer’s lightning attacks and a not-so-dirty shoulder injury that required a locker room check as he threw 306 yards, landings and interceptions as well as six bursts for a best 46-yard team.
“It was too far fetched,” said Arians, who also considered his defense handling “appalling” until the last eight minutes. “We were really hoping for Alex because we knew that part of the match wasn’t going to be there, and (Hencke) got off some really good spots and put on some really good plays. He had a lot of poise.”
Heinicke was an impressive shiver, three times making a first turn down with his legs as well as a landing in the third quarter. Heinicke eluded a sack, dipped into the pocket, shoved to the left and dived into the final four yards to the pylon to score. Washington’s rising defender Chase Young raced from his place among the defending players on the sideline to embrace Heinicke, with his left hand around the midfielder’s waist while his right finger pressed the board on the back of Heinicke’s shirt. Young’s apparent message: “Remember this name.”
Cinderella’s performance failed, and instead the pirates progressed to the NFC Divisions Tour.
The Tampa Show continues to be the first team to compete in its hometown Super Bowl.
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