NFC South Champs
NFC South Champs
By: Alyssa Britton-Harr
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers now stand (8-8) as they clinched their playoff spot Sunday with a 30-24 win against the (6-10) Carolina Panthers. For the first time in franchise history, the Buccaneers are back-to-back NFC South Champions and are considered Super Bowl contenders. The Bucs were second-half starters in Sunday’s game but came back to dominate over the Panthers with incredible plays by wide receiver Mike Evans and Tom Brady.
Mike Evans walked on the field after halftime, ready to dominate and play his best game of the season, winning the Bucs their back-to-back NFC South Championship. Evans reached 1,000 receiving yards in Sunday’s game, his ninth in consecutive years. He is the first player in the NFL to reach 1,000 receiving yards each year for his entire NFL career. Evans hauled three touchdowns to Tampa Bay Sunday for the first time all season. Evans and Brady have struggled to connect the majority of the season, as they haven’t been on the same page, but Sunday’s game changed that narrative.
The offense Sunday played with all they had as they knew this was their chance to clinch their playoff spot despite their troubled season. Late in the fourth quarter, the Bucs jumped on a loose ball after the Panthers had a fumble losing their game-winning drive. Instead, Brady extended the score by nine points with two minutes remaining as he scored a touchdown and connected for a two-point conversion.
Sunday’s game not only represented the Bucs’ NFC South playoff clinch, but it was a special day for the Bucs’ former head coach Bruce Arians, known as “BA,” as he was inducted into the Ring of Honor. BA was the Bucs head coach from 2019-2021 where he is the oldest coach to win the Super Bowl. BA brought home the Lombardi trophy for Tampa Bay since the Bucs first Super Bowl win back in 2003.
The Bucs game was an immensely intense game fighting for the last spot to reach playoff bound, and the Bucs showed out. The Bucs are now division champs and are locked in as the number four seed. They will need to be ready for either the Cowboys or the Eagles in the first playoff game, depending on Week 18 outcomes.
The last week of the regular season will be intense as many teams are still battling for the last playoff spot in the NFC and their seed. Green Bay controls its own destiny with a win and in scenario against the Lions. Seattle currently is holding the last spot, but requires a Green Bay loss and a win over the 49ers to secure the last spot. However, another possible scenario would send the Lions to the playoffs with a win over Green Bay and a Seattle loss to the 49ers.
Prime time is here football fans…make sure to cheer loudly!