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If the Dallas Cowboys are able to move past the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon, they now know who they’ll sit at the table with in the next round of NFC playoff speed dating. It will be a familiar matchup after the defending-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers completely undressed the Philadelphia Eagles in the conference’s first wild-card round game, 31-15, to advance to the divisional round.
Should Dallas meet them there, it will be a rematch of a hard-fought Week 1 battle that kicked off the NFL’s 2021 season. The Bucs escaped on a last-second field goal to win, 31-29.
With the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers hosting the lowest remaining seed following their wild-card bye, a Dallas victory would guarantee a trip for them to the home of the No. 2 seed Bucs in Florida. The winner of Monday night’s contest between the No. 4 Los Angeles Rams and No. 5 Arizona Cardinals will make the trip up north to Wisconsin.
Tampa Bay was able to do pretty much whatever they wanted through the first three quarters, building a 31-0 lead before Philadelphia finally got on the scoreboard. Without half of their cadre of offensive weapons, the Bucs were still able to exploit the Philadelphia defense even after they lost right tackle Tristan Wirfs early in the first quarter.
The second-year player and All-Pro injured his right ankle early in the contest. He tried to give it a go but was again replaced by veteran Josh Wells, who also was visibly limping throughout the game.
Regardless of the added pressure that resulted in our sacks, Tom Brady was sharp enough in his pursuit of an 11th Super Bowl appearance. The seven-time champion had limited yardage but finished with a 115.2 passer rating with 271 yards through the air, featuring his last remaining front line receiver Mike Evans. Evans caught 117 of those yards on his nine receptions.
The Tampa Bay defense was relentless in exposing a not-ready-for-the-playoffs Jalen Hurts and Eagles’ passing attack while shutting down the league’s top rushing offense.
Hurts’ two interceptions were harmful, the first coming at the end of the first quarter when he was late identifying a wide-open touchdown opportunity that allowed safety Mike Edwards to close in for the pick. The latter happened on a fourth-down attempt in the third quarter where he attempted a jump pass and was picked off by a dropping Shaq Barrett.
The Eagles created some noise with two fourth-quarter scoring drives, but a badly executed onside kick took any hope of drama out of the Eagles’ sails.
Philadelphia finishes their season at 10-8 without defeating a single team with a winning record, and looked the part in their final showing.
After the loss in Week 1, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott promised Tom Brady that the two teams would meet again in the playoffs. After the early game, it’s on Prescott to fulfill his prophecy.
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