The Buccaneers marched to a Super Bowl victory last season with one of the healthiest rosters in the postseason, and they returned most of those players this season. Despite having one of the most talented rosters in the league (five Pro Bowlers and two players on All-Pro teams), Tampa Bay faced injuries to key players on both sides of the ball all season.
The team’s top running back, Leonard Fournette, has missed time with an ankle injury. Tampa Bay’s All-Pro offensive lineman, Tristan Wirfs, injured his ankle early in Sunday’s game. Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers’ threatening slot receiver, tore his anterior cruciate ligament against the Saints in December. Antonio Brown, whom Brady lobbied for the team to sign last season, was recently released by the team.
That left Evans, Brady’s third receiving target, who had been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He caught nine passes for 117 yards on Sunday. After his third-quarter touchdown, Evans did a back flip into the end zone, appearing to end any questions about his health.
After a 4-11-1 season in 2020 that was derailed by injuries and struggles by the starting quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles fired their head coach, Doug Pederson, whose relationship with Wentz had deteriorated. Pederson had coached Philadelphia to a Super Bowl win in the 2017 season. The team owner Jeffrey Lurie brought in the former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, a little-known candidate at the time.
After losing five of their first seven games, the Eagles won six of their final eight and clinched a playoff berth as the second team in the N.F.C. East, behind the Dallas Cowboys, to make the postseason. Sirianni was the only first-year head coach to lead his team to the playoffs.
Many had questioned if the Eagles had been tested enough, though. Of those eight games, only one team, Dallas, made the playoffs. The Eagles beat the Broncos, the injury-battered Saints, the Giants once in two games, the Jets and the Washington Football Team.
After Sunday’s game, Evans was asked who he would like to see in the next round of the playoffs. Evans, a receiver, took only a few seconds to answer.
“Whatever team plays the most man coverage,” he said.