Wild Card Weekend is officially here, and the NFL Playoffs have begun. The thrills and emotions brought out by playoff football are hard to replicate. The players are giving everything they have to keep their season alive, and things can get very interesting.
There are lots of great Wild Card match ups this season, but the game I am going to be focusing on is the Eagles versus the Buccaneers. There are two very different ways you can look at this game (now that it’s over). The first way is to simply look at the score and see that the Buccaneers won in a 31-15 blowout. The second (and more interesting) way is to dive into the team and player stats to see what went wrong.
The first thing I noticed about the stat-line was that the only Eagles gained 10 less total yards than the Bucs, ran only 10 less plays than the Bucs and only possessed the ball for 6 minutes less in the same number of drives. So where did the Eagles go wrong? They gave up 2 interceptions and a fumble and headed into the 4th quarter down 31-0. Turnovers will absolutely kill you in the NFL. Teams that can take care of the football can take care of business.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were quick to capitalize on the turnovers as well. After Jalen Hurts threw an interception to Shaquil Barrett in the 3rd quarter, Tom Brady only needed 0:07 seconds to throw a 36-yard touchdown to Mike Evans to put the Buccaneers up 31-0.
The Eagles were also plagued by dropped passes and special teams struggles. The receivers and tight ends were open on many occasions but Hurts just could not connect. The Eagles muffed a punt in the 3rd quarter when they were down 17 points and forcing the Bucs to punt from their own 14-yard line.
The Eagles had opportunities to make this game closer than it was, but they did not seize them. The Bucs look like a dangerous playoff team for the second season in a row, and it’s hard to bet against Tom Brady when its elimination football.