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Buccaneers begin their title defense with destruction of Eagles

Tom Brady has reached the Super Bowl more often than not in his historic NFL career, but Michael Holley and Michael Smith are split as to whether he can lead this injury-depleted Bucs team through the NFC playoffs.

The Buccaneers’ title defense is off to a great start.

The Bucs put a beating on the Eagles today in Philadelphia, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looking back on the way to one of the most one-sided victories of Tom Brady’s impressive playoff career.

The 31-15 final score didn’t do justice to what a one-sided game it was.

Brady threw two touchdown passes and was in complete control of the offense. Brady got his passes off so quickly that he barely seemed to notice that All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs left the game with an ankle injury, and in the end he had thrown two touchdown passes (the 84th and 85th of his postseason career) and won, incredibly, the 35th postseason game of his Hall of Fame career.

The Eagles couldn’t do anything on offense. Jalen Hurts has talent and may some day prove to be a capable playoff quarterback, but today he just didn’t have it, struggling to find anyone downfield and generally wilting in the face of the Bucs’ defense. Hurts also didn’t get much help from his teammates in an ugly game all-around. By the time the Eagles finally got on the board, it was only after they had fallen behind 31-0 in the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneers will be at home again next weekend, facing the Cowboys, Rams or Cardinals, and they’ll be favored to win and reach their second consecutive NFC Championship Game. But the Bucs’ goals go further than just that. They’re aiming to win their second consecutive Super Bowl, and after the way they played today, it won’t be easy to bet against them.