NFL News & Analysis

NFL Wild Card Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Philadelphia Eagles 15

Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With game time nearing, the money was coming in on the Philadelphia Eagles and the betting line was closing, but nobody told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this was supposed to be a tricky contest.

Tom Brady and his weapons rolled on offense, while the Buccaneers' defense absolutely suffocated the Eagles’ offense. The game was effectively over by halftime. And at the end, the Bucs emerged with a comfortable 31-15 win, with their biggest issues being injuries — not anything the Eagles were able to concern them with.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback

Playoff Tom Brady? ‘Nuff said. Brady was ruthlessly efficient, carving up the Eagles' defense with an average depth of target just 4.9 yards downfield and getting the ball out of his hands on average in 2.2 seconds.

Brady’s job got harder when his offensive line got banged up and they turned to the bench, but Brady did an excellent job of mitigating those problems and neutralizing any threat from Philadelphia's defensive line.

Running back

With no Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard split the workload at running back. Vaughn handled 17 carries to Bernard’s 13, averaging less per attempt (3.1 to 3.4) but getting more of those yards after contact (2.4 to 1.9 yards on average). Vaughn moved the chains five times from his 17 carries.

Wide receivers/Tight ends

Mike Evans served as the Bucs' primary target in this game. He saw 10 targets, catching nine of them for 117 yards and a score. Evans was the only Tampa Bay receiver over 50 yards, though Giovani Bernard moved the chains three times from five catches and actually had the second-most targets (seven) on the team.

Routes Run Targets Receptions YPRR
Mike Evans 39 10 9 3
Rob Gronkowski 36 6 5 0.86
Tyler Johnson 35 3 2 0.86
Breshad Perriman 25 3 1 0.2
Cameron Brate 11 3 3 2.64
Offensive line

Tristan Wirfs was rolled up on early and forced from the game with an ankle injury. He talked his way back onto the field but was immediately bull-rushed by Ryan Kerrigan for a sack and just couldn’t bear enough weight on the ankle to remain in the game. Josh Wells took over and had his own issues, but he held up well enough that things didn’t unravel for the offense. 

Defensive line

The Bucs haven’t been able to get as much production out of rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka as they would have hoped this season, but they took advantage of his athleticism in this game and deployed him as a spy on Jalen Hurts at times. He played 34 snaps and notched a tackle four yards deep into the backfield, but he was still lacking in pressure overall.

Pass-Rush Snaps Pass-Rush Win Rate Total Snaps
Anthony Nelson 23 8.70% 29
Jason Pierre-Paul 21 9.50% 33
Rakeem Nunez-Roches 20 15.00% 29
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka 19 5.30% 34
Ndamukong Suh 19 0.00% 29
Shaquil Barrett 18 0.00% 28
Steve McLendon 17 5.90% 24
Vita Vea 16 6.30% 26
Linebackers

Lavonte David in the Tampa Bay lineup makes a big difference to the team's defense, but he left some plays on the field this time. He let a potential interception go through his hands early in the game and missed as many tackles (one) as he made. Devin White is typically more of a highlight-reel player than he is a consistent performer, and he had a pair of hits on Jalen Hurts on 12 blitzes.

Secondary

Jordan Whitehead was a missile in the run game early on, finishing the game with three defensive stops in that area — more than anyone else on the Bucs' defense. Whitehead recorded two tackles for loss or no gain, and his average depth of tackle in the run game was for a 2.5-yard gain.

Player Coverage Snaps Targets Yards
Carlton Davis 46 4 26
Jamel Dean 45 10 17
Mike Edwards 41 4 41
Jordan Whitehead 41 5 68
Antoine Winfield Jr.  38 4 10

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Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts has outperformed a lot of expectations this season, but this was a game that raises questions about how far he has to go and how good he can be as a passer when the team faces better opposition. Hurts threw for 258 yards, but he made multiple turnover-worthy plays and 68% of that yardage came after the catch through an endless sequence of screens and short passes.

Running back

Philadelphia’s ground game has been what propelled the team to success this season, but it wasn’t going to fly against Tampa Bay in this game. Hurts led the team in carries (eight) and yards (39), with a 34-yard Boston Scott scamper being the one big gain of the day. The team tallied just three rushing first downs all game.

Player Carries Yards Yards After Contact
Jalen Hurts 8 39 4
Miles Sanders 7 16 14
Kenneth Gainwell 1 6 5
Boston Scott 1 34 0
Wide receivers/Tight ends

DeVonta Smith ended up with 10 targets in the game, but he saw just two in the first half, catching one pass for six yards before the game was completely out of reach. Philadelphia’s inability to get the ball to its first-round pick needs real reflection off the back of this game. 

Offensive line

Philadelphia’s offensive line had been a road-grading monster over the second half of the year, but the irresistible force ran into the immovable object and faltered. The group held up fine as pass-blockers, allowing just eight pressures on first review, but they were consistently overwhelmed in the run game. Heavy boxes just eradicated any space for Eagles backs to have success.

Defensive line

With injuries to Tampa Bay’s offensive line, Philadelphia’s defensive line was able to have some significant success. Ryan Kerrigan notched a pair of sacks, taking advantage of a hobbled Tristan Wirfs and his backup to just power through for a big play. Derek Barnett was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Tampa Bay’s opening drive to give them easy yards and start the rout.

Player Pass-Rush Snaps Stops Pass-Rush Win Rate
Derek Barnett 35 1 8.60%
Fletcher Cox 34 2 17.60%
Javon Hargrave 31 2 19.40%
Ryan Kerrigan 26 2 15.40%
Milton Williams 16 4 0.00%
Hassan Ridgeway 11 1 0.00%
Linebackers

T.J. Edwards left the game after 34 snaps, taking away the Eagles' best linebacker this season. Edwards hadn’t made a huge impact, but he excels in coverage. Alex Singleton played 63 snaps but was picked on in coverage, allowing six catches from seven targets into his coverage. 

Secondary

Darius Slay spent much of the day tracking Mike Evans, at least in terms of alignment, and he allowed just three catches for 30 yards in the game. Only one catch Slay gave up resulted in a first down, and he forced one incompletion.

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