It wasn’t nearly as easy as everyone expected it to be. It wasn’t nearly as easy as it probably should have been.
But the Buccaneers have won their first playoff game since their Super Bowl season of 2002. They beat Washington 31-23 after journeyman quarterback Taylor Heinicke kept it interesting.
The Bucs will play the Saints next weekend if New Orleans wins Sunday.
Tom Brady won his 31st postseason game, throwing his 74th and 75th career postseason touchdowns. He completed 22 of 40 passes for 381 yards.
The Bucs gained 507 yards but settled for three red-zone field goals and another field goal after reaching the Washington 20. They also had an extra point blocked and missed on a two-point conversion.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans, who was questionable with a knee injury, caught six passes for a franchise-postseason-record 119 receiving yards. It broke the previous record of 106 yards by Keyshawn Johnson at Philadelphia in the 2000 playoffs.
But, even in a loss, Heinicke stole the show.
Heinicke, the fourth quarterback Washington has started this season, was making only his second career start. His first came in 2018 for Carolina.
He kept it close, even after an injury to his left shoulder in the fourth quarter, by completing 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He ran for 46 yards and a touchdown on six carries.