Bucs battling history, injuries in second round of playoffs

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 16: Shaquil Barrett #58 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2022

The Rams have been an obstacle for the Bucs, 0-2 in their playoff meetings (1979, 1999) and even 0-2 with Tom Brady in the lineup. The Bucs lost to Los Angeles in September by 10 points, 34-24.  It’s another rematch this time with a lot more on the line, but the Bucs like second chances.

"I’ve always liked playing a team that beats us," stated Mike Evans. "Even in the regular season if we’re playing a division opponent that beat us the first time, I want to beat them bad the second time. Like last year, we played the Saints twice and I wanted to play them because they beat us twice in the regular season. I wanted to play them again this year, but it didn’t happen that way. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge come Sunday."

Bruce Arians thinks the Rams have gotten better since their last meeting. They’ve added two superstars, Von Miller and Odel Beckham Jr., along with getting the star running back Cam Akers back from injury.

"They’re running the ball more than they did back then," explained Arians. "Defensively, they’re playing as [well] as anybody in the league right now."

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With two of the Bucs Pro Bowl offensive lineman battling injuries. Right tackle Tristian Wirfs might not even play. Tom Brady’s ability to get the ball out of his hand faster than any quarterback in the league should be a huge asset against the Rams vaunted defense, but Arians says that won’t make the Bucs offense predictable.

"It helps a bunch because they’re going to be there sooner or later," said Arians. "You can only hold them out for so long. You still have to take some shots down the field. Everybody is not going to be dink and dunk. You just have to maximize how you’re doing it, who you’re blocking and who has who. They’re doing a good job. They bring five a lot, so it’s hard to double team anybody. So yeah, it helps a bunch."