January 6, 2008 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs to the New York Giants. They haven't seen the playoffs since.
13 long years later and the 11-5 Bucs find themselves in Super Bowl discussions. But first, they'll have to make it past the Wild Card round where the Washington Football Team awaits.
One thing the Bucs didn't have last time in the playoffs: the best quarterback of all time.
Tom Brady has appeared in an NFL-record 41 playoff games and is no stranger to January football. Brady, who quarterbacked New England to six Super Bowl titles, ranks first on the career playoff list with 30 wins and 73 TD passes.
On the other side of the ball, Washington made the playoffs with a losing record of 7-9, but the Bucs aren't taking them lightly.
"We don't see them as a 7-9 team, we see them as a 4-1 team because every time Alex Smith has played, they went 4-1 and had a plus-three turnover margin," Head Coach Bruce Arians said. "It's a different team when Alex is playing and we know that. We're playing that 4-1 team, not that 7-9 team."
After the last game of the season, Washington rookie DE Chase Young said "I want Tom Brady," bringing an extra buzz into this matchup. Arians earlier this week did recognize Young's talent, but said "you better watch what you wish for."
One other storyline to watch is the health of Bucs star WR Mike Evans, who hyperextended his knee in the last week of the regular season. He has been listed as a gametime decision and it would be a huge boost for Tampa Bay if he's able to suit up.
Tampa Bay has been putting up big scores in recent weeks, but now face a Washington defense that ranked second in the NFL and gave up the fourth-fewest points, just 20.6 per game. Tampa Bay has averaged 37 points per game over the 4-game winning streak they went on to end the regular season, so something will have to give in this matchup.
These 2 teams have met twice in the playoffs before, with the Bucs winning 14-13 in 2000 and Washington winning 17-10 in 2006.
No fans will be in attendance at the game. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. Saturday from FedEx Field.