It was a valiant effort by the Washington Football Team and unheralded quarterback Taylor Heinicke in Washington’s first playoff game since 2015, but Tom Brady on the other side proved too much to overcome.
Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-23 win at FedExField.
After playing in last week’s division-clinching win at Philadelphia, quarterback Alex Smith didn’t play due to a calf injury.
Starting in his place was Heinicke, who performed well, leading Washington on three touchdown drives.
The second of those touchdowns came with 2:14 left in the third quarter, when Heinicke scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown run to pull Washington within 18-16. A 2-point attempt to tie the game failed.
But the Buccaneers responded after that.
After a field goal put Tampa Bay ahead 21-16 with 13:32 left, the Buccaneers forced a Washington punt and then drove down the field, taking a 28-16 lead with 9:11 remaining on a 3-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette.
However, after leaving the game temporarily due to a shoulder injury, Heinicke led a lengthy touchdown of his own, capping it with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Steven Sims to make it 28-23 Tampa Bay with 4:51 left.
Tampa Bay then answered with a field goal to take a 31-23 lead with 2:49 remaining.
Heinicke drove Washington to the Tampa Bay 49-yard line with just over two minutes left, but the drive stalled on downs and Tampa Bay ran out the clock with Washington out of timeouts.
Heinicke finished 26-of-44 passing for 306 yards.
Tampa Bay took a 9-0 lead after the first quarter, but Washington cut its deficit to 9-7 with 12:59 left in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by J.D. McKissic.
But the Buccaneers answered back, taking a 15-7 lead with 10:03 left in the first half on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Chris Godwin.
Tampa Bay added a field goal with 1:50 left in the first half and held an 18-7 lead at halftime.