Tom Brady acquired his first NFL playoff win with the Buccaneers. His efficiency did not look a lot totally different from the huge playoff wins he had for the Patriots.

Tampa Bay wanted each little bit of the GOAT quarterback’s greatness to outlast host Washington 31-23 in Saturday evening’s NFC wild-card playoff sport. In an unlikely passing duel with Taylor Heinicke and dealing with a tricky go rush, Brady had all of the solutions with each type of throw.

A yr in the past, Brady struggled with a restricted Patriots offense within the AFC playoffs, with a late pick-six stamping his shaky loss to the Titans. With the Buccaneers, there have been zero questions on his arm or downfield accuracy.

Brady did not look near 43 as Heinicke, 16 years his junior, was maintaining Washington within the sport till the ultimate drive whereas taking part in for an injured Alex Smith. Brady wasn’t excellent as he confronted loads of stress; he took three sacks and accomplished simply 55 p.c of his go makes an attempt. However even with out finishing a go to tight finish Rob Gronkowski — who was wanted to assist out in go safety — he delivered large performs everywhere in the discipline.

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Washington did its greatest, but it surely could not maintain Brady (22-of-40 passing, 381 yards, two touchdowns, 8.9 yards per try, 104.three ranking) from recurrently sidestepping the rush and getting the ball downfield to his elite vast receivers, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. With Gronkowski taking part in extra in-line, Brady merely pivoted to Cameron Brate to make chunk catches from tight finish.

That opened issues up for Leonard Fournette to steer a prolific dashing assault. There was a notion at one level Saturday that Washington’s protection was doing a fantastic job. However ultimately, the Bucs racked up three touchdowns, 4 discipline objectives and 507 yards of offense. Brady’s evening might have been greater with out uncharacteristic drops by Godwin and others.

Brady is taking part in at a excessive stage, however he is additionally getting nice help from the Bucs’ offensive line and the a great deal of expertise on the talent positions. After just a few hiccups through the common season, he is now in an entire thoughts meld with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich that is harking back to his reference to Josh McDaniels in New England.

Heinicke was a sport playmaker, save for one early interception and some dangerous balls. Forward are extra harmful QBs who’re contemporaries of Brady. If type holds within the NFC playoffs, then Brady would subsequent get one other shot at Drew Brees and the Saints — who swept the Bucs within the common season. If the Bucs advance to the NFC championship sport, then they might be in line to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers — whom the Bucs routed within the common season.

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The Bucs’ protection is gifted. It constantly stops the run and coordinator Todd Bowles has good pass-rushers and strong defensive backs for his blitzing scheme. However in watching Heinicke choose aside that protection, it was evident that there are additionally loads of holes in protection. There can be continued stress, then, on Brady and the offense to win high-scoring video games within the playoffs. 

Brady was fired up and funky on the similar time Saturday. He was by no means rattled, and regardless that Washington put up a great struggle, there was no cause to consider the Bucs weren’t at all times in full management of the sport. Alongside the best way, he made a few of his basic jaw-dropping throws completely tailor-made to his receivers.

The Buccaneers have been clad of their crimson and pewter uniforms, attempting to throw it again to the magic of their Tremendous Bowl 37 championship. However one could possibly be simply fooled that Brady was nonetheless sporting the crimson, white and navy blue of the Patriots groups that gained Tremendous Bowls 36, 38, 39, 49, 51 and 53.

Brady left the Patriots as a result of they have been now not the group greatest suited to get the perfect out of him. He properly picked the Bucs, and though it took some time, they utterly turned his group proper earlier than the playoffs.

Now that the Bucs are within the playoffs, they’re getting a really acquainted QB — nothing wanting a full GOAT.