How the Washington Post saw the game unfold
Hail: Beating Tom Brady and the defending champs
Brady was 5-1 in his career against Washington, including the playoffs, coming into Sunday's game, with his team outscoring the opposition in those six contests 177-74. Brady's only loss to Washington came in his first career start against the burgundy and gold, a 20-17 setback at FedEx Field on Sept. 28, 2003. Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright had rushing touchdowns for Washington in that game, after which Washington Coach Steve Spurrier said: "We're happy to be 3-1. We realize it could be worse." It would get worse, and Washington finished 5-11.

Sunday's triumph also gave Washington its first win over a defending Super Bowl champion since 2012, when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III led Mike Shanahan's squad to a win over the New York Giants on "Monday Night Football." Since then, Washington had lost four straight games against the defending champs, including a sweep by the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2018 season.

Fail: Tampa Bay's coin toss decision
The Buccaneers' first mistake? Electing to receive after winning the pregame coin toss. "There were two signs of, I wouldn't call it disrespect, but two signs of just knowing how they feel" Washington safety Bobby McCain said afterward. "The first sign was them taking the ball from the coin toss. If you don't take the ball right there, you get a chance to flip the score at halftime. That lets you know, defensively, they don't think you're worth s---."

The second sign, McCain said, was Tampa Bay's decision to go for it on fourth and one from its own 33-yard line in the first quarter. Brady converted that gamble on a quarterback sneak, but he threw an interception - to McCain - on the next play.

Hail: The longest drive
Washington's 19-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to seal the win in the fourth quarter was the longest by time - 10 minutes 26 seconds - in the NFL this season. Washington converted four third downs en route to the end zone and was 11 for 19 on third down in the game.

According to Pro Football Reference, Washington's impressive march was the second-longest fourth-quarter touchdown drive since 2001, eclipsed only by an Eagles drive against the Indianapolis Colts in September 2018. It was Washington's longest drive at any point in a game since Josh Johnson and Co. took 10:58 off the clock on a 17-play, 93-yard touchdown march in a 25-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans in 2018.

Fail: Brady's first quarter
Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter for only the third time in his career and the first time since Dec. 23, 2012. Brady's first pick wasn't his fault - Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden had the ball knocked out of his grasp by safety Kam Curl on what should've been a completion - but the 44-year-old's second turnover was the result of an overthrow. "We started with the ball, and they came away with it," a surly Brady told reporters during his brief postgame news conference. "So thanks, guys. Have a good day."

The Washington defense, which also drew inspiration from Chase Young's halftime speech, did.

Hail: A "big" lead
How rare was it for Washington, which jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first half, to be playing from ahead? Before Taylor Heinicke connected with wide receiver DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter, Washington hadn't led any game by more than six points all season. Somewhat surprisingly, Washington's 3-6 record is only one game worse than the Minnesota Vikings, who are the only team to hold a lead of at least seven points in every game this season.

Fail: William Jackson III's penalty
After missing the previous two games with a knee injury, Jackson returned to the lineup and picked off Brady in the first quarter for his first interception with Washington. The cornerback also committed a foolish and costly penalty as time expired in the first half, pulling Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans down by his face mask at the Washington 25-yard line. Rather than Washington taking a 16-3 lead into the locker room, Jackson's penalty resulted in an untimed down, which Tampa Bay used to kick a field goal and cut the deficit to 10.

Hail: Joey Slye
Washington's third kicker of the season was 3 for 3 on field goals and 2 for 2 on extra points in his WFT debut. That means the former North Stafford High and Virginia Tech standout was 5 for 5 on not having his kicks blocked, which was a welcome sight after the short-lived Chris Blewitt experiment.

Fail: The NFC playoff picture
If the 17-game season ended today, the 5-5 Carolina Panthers would claim the NFC's final playoff spot, which is why, ridiculous as it may seem, Washington will be listed among the teams "in the hunt" for the postseason for the foreseeable future.

Washington securing a top-five draft pick is still more likely, but if you squint hard enough, next week's game against Cam Newton and the Panthers suddenly has playoff implications for both teams. FiveThirtyEight gives Washington a 13 percent chance to make the postseason, while ESPN's FPI gives the WFT a 4 percent chance to clinch a playoff spot in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992.

The Washington Post, published 15 November 2021