Tom Brady throws for 2 touchdowns, Buccaneers edge Eagles, 31-15, in NFC wildcard game – The Denver Post
TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off their bid for a Super Bowl comeback with a dominant 31-15 NFC playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The defending champions set the tempo early on, with Brady leading a pair of long TD drives in the first quarter and building the lead to 17-0 by halftime.
The seven-time Super Bowl winner finished the Eagles with 2-yard TD passes to Rob Gronkowski and 36 yards to Mike Evans, improving his dazzling playoff record to 35-11 in a game-high 46 playoff starts.
The Bucs defense also did its part by intercepting Jalen Hurts twice in the Philadelphia quarterback’s playoff debut.
“We did some good things,” Brady said. “I think we’re going to have to keep doing what we did today. Everyone must touch it, make explosive plays. Did a good job owning it, the defense played really well so it was a great team win. The special teams played brilliantly – one of the best days we’ve had on the special teams all year.
Brady completed 29 of 37 passes without an interception while raising his postseason record for TD assists to 85.
But the Bucs (14-4) had things well in hand before the reigning Super Bowl MVP found Gronkowski wide open in the middle of the end zone to make it 24-0 midway through the third quarter. The 6-foot-5 Evans punctuated his touchdown catch for a 31-0 lead with a forward flip over the goal line.
The Eagles (9-9) scored on Boston Scott’s 34-yard run and Hurts’ 16-yard TD pass to Kenneth Gainwell in the fourth quarter. A 2-point conversion cut Philadelphia’s deficit to 16 with 4:45 remaining, but that was as close as it gets.
Giovani Bernard scored on a 2-yard run and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a second-year professional replacing injured running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, covered the final yard of a 70-yard drive that put the Bucs up 14-0.
Brady led the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns, attempts and completions this season, but Tampa Bay came out on top in this one by running the ball and keeping it clear of Hurts and of the league’s main ground attack.
The Bucs went 25 plays against Philadelphia’s eight in the first quarter, outscoring the Eagles by 137 yards on 17 and compiling an 11-1 advantage in first downs.
It didn’t get much better after that, with a Tampa Bay defense bolstered by the return of injured linebackers Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul repelling Hurts’ most promising drive of the first half with the end zone interception by Mike Edwards. .
The Eagles have won four of their last five games to clinch the No. 7 NFC playoff ranking, but the turning point of their season came when ball running became a focal point of offense during the game. second half of a 28-22 at home. loss to the Bucs.
The Eagles rushed for at least 130 yards in their next nine games, including seven in a row with 175+. Hurt led the team with 784 yards and 10 rushing yards, becoming the eighth quarterback in history in the NFL to throw for over 3,000 yards. and run for over 750.
Hurts finished his postseason debut 23 of 43 passing for 258 yards. He rushed for a team-high 39 yards on eight attempts, with the Eagles finishing with 95 total rushing yards — well below their season average of 159.7 per game.
Philadelphia played without defensive end Josh Sweat, inactive after being admitted to hospital and undergoing “emergency procedure” for what the team described as a “life-threatening situation” earlier during the week.
The Eagles released a statement before the game saying Sweat, who tied for the team lead with 7½ sacks this season, was admitted to hospital last Tuesday night.
“In the days that followed, Josh and our medical team did everything they could to help him get back to playing,” the statement read. “He was improving every day, but the doctors determined today that he was not quite ready. The fact that Josh came so close to playing is a credit to his tenacity and our staff. medical.
Eagles : LB TJ Edwards (elbow) went off in the second half and didn’t return.
Buccaneers: While David and Bernard were activated from injured reserve, RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was not. With RB Ronald Jones (ankle) inactive, it created a bigger role for Vaughn. … All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs limped off with an ankle injury just over a minute into the game. He returned briefly in the second quarter, before taking the rest of the day off.
Eagles : Enter the offseason with lingering questions about whether Hurts is the answer to quarterbacking going forward.
Buccaneers: Host the NFC Division Game next weekend.