“I think it was the biggest storyline of the week, just because one guy says, ‘I want Tom’ all of a sudden,” he said during a postgame press conference. “They’ve got a great front. Our guys took it to heart – they were going to block them. I thought we blocked them really, really well. They didn’t scare us.”
Despite the confidence, Arians shared his disappointment with the Bucs defense, which he said underestimated Washington’s Taylor Heinicke.
“I think some of our guys – I don’t think veterans did, but some of our younger guys – might have relaxed when Alex Smith wasn’t playing,” he said. “I kind of kept preaching at them, ‘This kid can run, he can do a lot of things.’ He almost beat us with his legs.”
Arians continued: “I don’t think this is the best our defense has played in a long – I mean it was terrible up until the last eight minutes.”
The Bucs were on the board early and a 36-yard touchdown pass caught by Antonio Brown gave them a 9-0 lead in the first quarter before another big catch by Chris Godwin would give Tampa Bay an 11-point lead going into the second half.
Heinicke would narrow the lead by just five points with a little under five minutes remaining but that’s when the Bucs defense stepped in to finish things off.
The No. 5 seed, Tampa Bay could play the New Orleans Saints next week in the divisional round.
Fox News Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.