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Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Washington to reach divisional round

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts during the first half of Saturday's wild-card game against the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/970669061219e52f04f8a7ba5dddc3e7/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts during the first half of Saturday's wild-card game against the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned a 31-23 win over the Washington Football Team on Saturday night at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., to advance to the NFC divisional round.

Playing in his first postseason game with Tampa Bay, veteran quarterback Tom Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Buccaneers to their first playoff victory since 2002.

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Brady had to outduel Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who had a breakout performance in just his second professional start and first in the playoffs in place of the injured Alex Smith. Heinicke threw for 306 yards and a touchdown, adding 46 rushing yards and another score.

"He almost beat us with his legs," Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said of Heinicke. "He was very elusive. We knew he was going to scramble around, there was going to be bootlegs and scrambles. We were really hoping for Alex because we knew that part of the game wasn't going to be in there."

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Brady was methodical in the first half with 12 completions for 209 yards and two touchdowns. The six-time Super Bowl champion connected with Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin for the scores as the Buccaneers jumped out to an 18-7 lead at halftime.

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Heinicke and Washington then scored nine unanswered points to trim their deficit to 18-16 entering the final quarter.

The series after Heinicke injured his left shoulder, Brady orchestrated a 69-yard scoring drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by tailback Leonard Fournette. That score made it 28-16, which was enough to prevent the Football Team's comeback attempt.

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"We're thrilled with the win," Bucs tight end Cameron Brate said. "I hate to say that we're relieved, but at this point we're just pumped we got the win. No matter how ugly it was, no matter how many mistakes we made, a win's a win this time of year."

The Buccaneers will either host the Los Angeles Rams or visit the New Orleans Saints next weekend in the NFC divisional round.

This week in the National Football League

Washington Football Team's Kamren Curl celebrates with teammates after making an interception against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday. Washington defeated the Eagles 20-14 to win the NFC East Division with a record of 7-9. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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