Alex Cappa with fellow lineman Donovan Smith
While Tampa Bay won its first playoff game in 18 years on Saturday, the Buccaneers lost a Pro Bowler in the process.
Bucs lineman Alex Cappa went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the team’s 31-23 win over Washington. Head coach Bruce Arians didn’t have a promising outlook afterward in the postgame press conference.
“It looks like a fracture, so hopefully we’ll check on another X-ray with a better X-ray machine,” Arians said. “Right now, it does not look good.”
Backup lineman Ted Larsen filled in for Cappa in the second half as the Bucs scored 13 points to ward off Washington. The Bucs moved Larsen up from the practice squad during the week.
Cappa has a strong season going for the Bucs, which includes Pro Bowl honors. He earned the most fan votes for NFC right guards per the Tampa Bay Times’ Joey Knight.
#GoBucs RG Alex Cappa finished 1st in Pro Bowl fan voting at his position for the NFC (95,058). Final rosters, determined by fans, players and coaches, will be revealed tonight at 7 on NFL Network.
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) December 21, 2020
Bucs offensive line teammate Donovan Smith said he hopes for the best for Cappa per Pewter Report.
#Bucs LT Donovan Smith says he hopes Alex Cappa is okay. To lose a guy like that is tough, he’s been playing good ball this year. He’s a great leader, he’s been huge with helping out Tristan on that side, but it’s next man up.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 10, 2021
Jones Quad Injury
Bucs running back and leading rusher Ronald Jones II never took the field as the Bucs went with a running back-by committee look early on. The Athletic’s Greg Auman confirmed Jones’ injury and status during the first half.
Bucs say Ronald Jones has a quad injury and is questionable to return.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 10, 2021
Jones led the Bucs in rushing this season, finishing just shy of 1,000 yards at 978. He also scored seven touchdowns. The third-year back from USC missed two games due to a pinkie injury but returned for the regular season finale against Atlanta Jan. 3. Jones rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in that game.
Tampa already had one back down for the Wild Card game with LeSean McCoy because of illness. The Bucs looked to running back Leonard Fournette on the ground early on but also gave rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn some touches.
Fournette finished with one of his stronger games of the season — 93 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Bucs back didn’t expect to start or carry the load per NFL Network’s James Palmer.
Leonard Fournette said they prepared for Ronald Jones to start all week. He couldn’t go tonight because of a quad injury. It did surprise him Rojo couldn’t go.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 10, 2021
Fournette played a sparing role throughout the season with a career-low of 367 yards. The season started hard for Fournette, too, when the Jacksonville Jaguars released him before signing with Tampa Bay. He keeps it in perspective according to WTSP’s Grace Remington.
Leonard Fournette: “It’s been up-and-down for me. I think this year tested me, my humbleness. Coming from being the whole offense to just a minor piece… they believed in me. I’m happy where I’m at.” #GoBucs
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) January 10, 2021
Passing the Rush
Tampa also offset Jones’ absence with a strong passing attack and getting past Washington’s young and vaunted defense. Washington rookie defensive end Chase Young came into the game talking about coming for Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, which Brady downplayed.
Brady threw for 381 yards on 22-40 passing with touchdowns to wide receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin. Brown made it four consecutive games with a touchdown in his ninth game with the Bucs.
Brown also played in his first postseason game since the 2017 season when he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He took to Twitter earlier in the week about his motivation to thrive with the Bucs.
Both Brown and Godwin came into Washington potentially needing to step up for the injured Mike Evans, who the Bucs listed as a game-time decision. Evans played after all and led all receivers with 119 yards on six catches.
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