In a closely contested matchup throughout the contest, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched a playoff birth after winning the NFC South today in a 30-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs got off to a slow start in this one, but thanks to Mike Evans’ 200+ yard, 3 touchdown game they were able to pull it out and secure a playoff spot.
It wasn’t all pretty, but it seems the Bucs now have life after a New Year’s Day thriller that saw the game come down to the wire.
Tom Brady played a solid game as well, finishing with 432 yards and three touchdowns all to Mike Evans on 34-of-45 passing. He also had a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory for Tampa Bay. The Bucs still have a long ways to go on the offensive side of the ball, but today looked much better for them moving forwards.
Defensively, the Buccaneers struggled at times but were able to come up with key stops and turnovers when they needed to. They also forced a crucial fumble in the fourth quarter that helped swing the momentum in their favor. Thanks to Anthony Nelson, the Bucs once again have a newfound hope as his strip sack on Sam Darnold was a huge turning point in the game.
With the win, the Buccaneers clinch the NFC South and are sitting at .500 heading into the final game of the regular season and will now turn their attention to the playoffs. They will likely have a tough matchup in the first round, but with how they’ve played down the stretch, they have to be considered a threat to make a deep run.
For the Panthers, the loss is a tough pill to swallow as they may miss out on the playoffs despite a strong second half of the season. With the division clinched, it will be interesting to see what the Bucs’ game plan will be next week against the Atlanta Falcons. They could choose to rest players for their first-round game, which would be great as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.
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