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Bucs earn No. 2 seed, will host Eagles in opening playoff round

Tampa Bay’s win, as well as the 49ers’ overtime victory over the Rams, give the Bucs a boost.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski waves to the fans in the stands as he runs off the field after the Bucs beat the Panthers to close out the regular season Sunday.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski waves to the fans in the stands as he runs off the field after the Bucs beat the Panthers to close out the regular season Sunday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jan. 10|Updated Jan. 10

TAMPA — John Lynch’s latest team did his old one a humongous favor Sunday night.

While the Bucs were finishing off the hapless Panthers for a franchise-record 13th regular-season win, the Hall of Fame former Bucs safety — and 49ers general manager — watched as San Francisco rallied for a 27-24 overtime triumph against the Rams.

Rookie Ambry Thomas’ first career interception, of a deep Matthew Stafford throw, clinched the triumph. That victory, coupled with Tampa Bay’s 41-17 triumph, assured the Bucs of the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed.

“It’s a happy locker room right now,” coach Bruce Arians said.

Tampa Bay hosts the Eagles next Sunday at 1 p.m. (Fox). If the Bucs win, they’ll host a second postseason game.

“Hopefully, RayJay will be rocking,” Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans said. “Hopefully, we have playoffs at home the whole time, so that’s what we’re looking for.”

Bucs safety Mike Edwards (32), left, and quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate after wide receiver Scotty Miller (10) scored a touchdown during the fourth quarter.
Bucs safety Mike Edwards (32), left, and quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate after wide receiver Scotty Miller (10) scored a touchdown during the fourth quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs topped the Eagles 28-22 in a Thursday night game on Oct. 14, but Philadelphia (9-8) won four in a row down the stretch to eke into the postseason.

“We’re playing a team that’s very talented,” Bucs quarterback Tom Brady said. “They made it to this point for a reason, and we’ve got to do everything we (can) do to get the win. This is a football team that’s been playing really well. ... It’s going to be a very tough game.”

Excluding Super Bowl 55 (technically a neutral-site contest), next week’s game will be Tampa Bay’s first postseason game at home since a 24-14 loss to the Giants in a wild-card game on Jan. 6, 2008.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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