TAMPA, Fla. — Linebacker Lavonte David is the longest-tenured player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since being drafted out of Nebraska in 2012, the day after the regular season, David and his teammates would clean out their lockers. But this week is different. Now, he has to balance the excitement of a postseason appearance with the focus that is required.
“Obviously, this can’t be a normal game because it’s sudden death, basically. if you lose, you’re out,” David said. “If you win, you keep on moving forward. Our whole mindset is focus on us and forget about everything that happened the last 17 weeks. It’s a new start.”
The Bucs’ first-round opponent is the seven-win Washington Football Team, a team that has the fewest number of wins of any team in the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter [what] a team’s record [is and] it doesn’t matter how they got here,” David said. “They’re here, so they’re going to give you their best and we should put our best out there. It’s definitely going to be fun to be a part of – to feel the atmosphere, the intensity that being in the playoff brings.”
The Tampa Bay players will have to bring their own energy Saturday night. Due to the pandemic, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland will not be hosting fans.
“I don’t think it’s a concern,” wide receiver Chris Godwin said. “I think we’re so used to it now and like you said, it’s the playoffs. We’ve been working all season to get to this point and now we’re here. We can’t come out there and be flat – we need to bring our own energy no matter what.”
The Bucs do have postseason experience at the quarterback position. This marks Tom Brady’s 18th playoff appearance in his 21 NFL seasons.
The NFC first-round game between Tampa Bay and Washington kicks off at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.