ASHBURN, Va. (WWBT) - Not since the 2015 season has the Washington Football Team hit the field for the playoffs, and to find the last time the franchise picked up a postseason victory, you have to turn the calendar back to January of 2006. Washington topped Tampa Bay in the Wild Card round that season.
15 years later, the burgundy and gold hope history can repeat itself.
Ron Rivera and company will spend the week preparing for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who visit FedEx Field on Saturday night. Tampa Bay finished the season 11-5 and finished behind the NFC South champion Saints.
In Brady, Washington will look to contain one of the best big-game performers in the history of the game, as he led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and won the game’s MVP four times. During his first season in Tampa, the quarterback threw for 4,633 yards (3rd in the NFL), 40 touchdowns (2nd in the NFL) and 12 interceptions.
“Let’s be realistic about who we’re playing,” Rivera said on Monday. “The dude is having another phenomenal year again. He’s been hot. Maybe we’ll get lucky and catch him down. But right now, he’s playing really good football. We’ll see. I promise you though, we’re going to show up on Saturday night.”
Rookie defensive end Chase Young knows exactly who he’s going up against this weekend. Following Sunday’s victory, Young was heard yelling “Tom Brady, I’m coming! I want Tom!” Rivera knows this could serve as motivation for Tampa Bay, but he’s also not entirely disappointed in his first-year star.
“It’s going to be bulletin board material, let’s be honest about that. They’ll have fun with it. You’ve got to chalk it up to youthful exuberance, but that’s who Chase is,” the head coach noted. “I do cringe, but at the same time, I smile at it because he loves playing the game. I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Washington locked up the NFC East crown with a 20-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday night. It was a game that saw some questionable decision making by Philadelphia and head coach Doug Pederson, headlined by the call to bench starting quarterback Jalen Hurts early in the fourth quarter and give the reins of the offense to former Washington practice squad member Nick Sudfeld. Pederson insists he was playing to win the game, though many have questioned that statement in the contest’s aftermath. The burgundy and gold took the win to finish 7-9.
“I’m not going to apologize for winning. Apparently, that’s what everybody wants me to do is apologize for winning. I’m not going to,” said Rivera. “You play the game as it’s set up. Nobody complained when Pittsburgh did what they did last night against Cleveland. I mean, come on. This is just the way it is. We got into the playoffs. We’re 7-9. I’ve been 7-8-1 in the playoffs. I was on an 8-8 team that was in the playoffs. You don’t apologize for getting into the playoffs. You apologize for losing in the playoffs, at least I believe you do. But you don’t apologize for getting in.”
Rivera’s squad was 2-7 when it caught fire, winning four in a row and taking the NFC East lead. After back-to-back losses to Seattle and Carolina, Washington still continued to control its own destiny heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Washington and the Buccaneers kick off on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on NBC12.
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