Tom Brady brings vaunted record as Bucs visit Washington
Tom Brady’s postseason resume is as attractive as it is long, making it little wonder why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed him with open arms in the offseason.
The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback looks to add to his decorated postseason legacy on Saturday when the fifth-seeded Buccaneers visit the fourth-seeded Washington Football Team in an NFC wild-card game.
Brady is the NFL’s all-time leader in playoff wins (30), completions (1,025), passing yards (11,388) and touchdown passes (73), while his nine Super Bowl starts with the New England Patriots are the most by any player in league history.
So while the Buccaneers are set to play their first postseason game since 2007, it’s old hat for Brady. And he had no issue stressing a sense of urgency for his team.
“I think that nothing is given — you have to earn everything,” Brady said on Wednesday. “You get to this point in the year, you have to earn it. To win this game, you’ve got to earn it. You’re playing against teams that have really proven themselves to be the best teams in their divisions all year.”
Brady appears to have found his chemistry with his wideouts on Tampa Bay’s third-ranked scoring offense (30.8 points per game), throwing for at least 341 yards in five of the last seven games. All told, the 43-year-old threw for 20 of his franchise-record 40 touchdowns in that span and even rushed for one to help the Buccaneers finish with an 11-5 record.
Whether Brady has star wideout Mike Evans on Saturday is in question, however. Evans participated in a walkthrough on Tuesday before sitting out the following day as he attempts to work his way past a knee injury.
Cornerback Carlton Davis was able to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday as he attempts to return from a two-game absence due to a groin injury.
Speaking of injuries, Alex Smith has rebounded from a gruesome leg injury in November 2018. Smith underwent 17 surgeries to save his leg before coming back with a flourish, posting a 5-1 record as a starter this season.
Washington answered a dismal 2-7 start by winning four in a row en route to a 7-9 finish, which was good enough for its first NFC East title since 2015.
“We don’t see them as a 7-9 team, we see them as a (5)-1 team because every time Alex Smith has played, they went (5)-1 and had a plus-three turnover margin,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s a different team when Alex is playing, and we know that. We’re playing that (5)-1 team, not that 7-9 team.”
Smith was limited in practice on Wednesday, leading to backup Taylor Heinicke receiving first-team reps.
Rookie Antonio Gibson (team-leading 795 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns) and Terry McLaurin (club-best 87 catches, 1,118 receiving yards) were also listed as limited in practice on Wednesday. Gibson is nursing a toe injury while McLaurin has an ankle issue.
Washington’s stingy defense, led by Pro Bowl rookie defensive end Chase Young, ranked second in total yards allowed per game (304.6), second in pass yards allowed (191.8) and fourth in points permitted (20.6).
Young was quick to call his shot on Sunday, when the 21-year-old was caught on camera saying: “Tom Brady, Tom Brady, I’m coming! I want Tom! I want Tom.”
Young doubled down on his comments on Wednesday.
“I play ball,” Young said. “I’m excited to go against the best. The media — their job is to stir it up. If you know me, I’m excited for every game. Tom Brady, you think I’m not excited to play against the G.O.A.T.? You trippin’. I’m not going to apologize for saying I want Tom. No, I want every quarterback I play against.”
–Field Level Media