TAMPA — The Bucs are the fourth team to enter the playoffs in a non-strike season with a losing record. Their 8-9 regular-season mark is a scar on their NFC South title, but it can heal quickly with a couple postseason wins.
Remember, the Bucs have nearly two-dozen players who won Super Bowl 55 still on the roster. That experience should be an advantage in the do-or-die postseason format.
“It helps you a lot,” Bucs linebacker Devin White said of playoff experience. “We’re capable of doing anything. We didn’t have goals of just getting here. Obviously, that was a start. We didn’t play like we wanted to get (to the postseason) ... (but)we found a way to get in and we found a resilience and we’re just going to keep working.”
The Bucs will host the Dallas Cowboys (12-5) in Monday night’s NFC wild-card game at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay won the season opener at Dallas, 19-3.
Much has changed for both teams since then, but the Cowboys are favored by a field goal in this game.
Here is how those other teams fared:
2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Remember the earthquake that was measured in Seattle about a dozen years ago?
You may have known it as the Beast Quake.
The Seahawks were the first team to qualify for the playoffs in a full season with a losing record. The NFC West was not very strong that season. The Rams finished with a 7-9 mark but lost in the tiebreaker. The 49ers were 6-10 and the Cardinals went 5-11.
Seattle hosted the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
The Saints had a prolific offense behind quarterback Drew Brees. They were in control of the game until Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch secured the victory for Seattle with a ridiculous 67-yard touchdown run that saw him bowl over several would-be Saints tacklers on his way to the end zone. Seattle won 41-36.
For Lynch, that was known as going full Beast Mode. The noise generated by the crowd that day at Qwest Field created the seismic readings of a small earthquake. Ever since, Seahawks fans have been known as the loudest in the NFL.
The next week, the Seahawks traveled to Chicago for the NFC division playoff game and fell behind 21-0 to the Bears. Seattle rallied in the fourth quarter before losing 35-24.
2014 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
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The Panthers were counted out after a horrible 3-8-1 start, but they got hot at the right time.
Carolina won its final four regular-season games, including a 19-17 victory over Tampa Bay. That allowed the Panthers to clinch the NFC South, and they finished the regular season on a high note, destroying the Falcons 34-3.
Ironically, former Bucs coach Bruce Arians played a big part in the Panthers’ wild-card game. He was the head coach at Arizona, which was missing injured starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.
The Cardinals turned to Ryan Lindley and were held to only 78 yards of total offense. But Arizona played good defense, too, and led 14-13 at halftime.
Ultimately, the Panthers won 27-16, with Cam Newton shaking off two interceptions to throw for two touchdowns and Jonathan Stewart rushing for more than 100 yards and a score. But Carolina lost the next week to the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom.
The Panthers were coached by Ron Rivera, who would be back with another team that had a losing record.
2020 Washington Football Team (7-9)
We told you Rivera had a knack for this.
Like he had six years earlier with Carolina, Rivera took another team with a losing record from a bad division back to the playoffs.
Everyone in Tampa Bay should remember the 2020 season fondly. Tom Brady arrived and rainbows started appearing over Raymond James Stadium.
When the Bucs qualified for the postseason as an NFC wild-card team, it meant going on the road for every playoff game (well, except for the final one). Of course, the world was locked down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and only a very limited number of fans were permitted into stadiums.
What the Bucs didn’t count on was a little-known quarterback named Taylor Heinicke. The undrafted free agent once spent some time in the Patriots training camp with Brady.
Heinicke was remarkable that day. He passed for 306 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 46 yards and another score.
The Bucs got out of that game with their lives and a 31-23 victory that would help propel them to a Super Bowl 55 title at Raymond James Stadium.
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