The Washington Football Team's bid to earn their first playoff victory since the 2005 season fell a little short Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField in Landover, Md.

The Bucs never trailed on their way to a 31-23 road victory, earning a spot in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Tampa Bay (12-5) will face NFC South rival New Orleans (13-4) in the next round Jan. 18.

Washington (7-10) trimmed double-digit deficits on two occasions Saturday to remain within striking distance. Reserve QB Taylor Heinicke shined in his first start for Washington -- passing for 306 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 46 yards and another score.

Washington secured its first postseason berth since the 2015 season by winning the NFC East division title. Washington closed the regular season with victories in five of its final seven games.

"We have to learn from this experience, grow from the experience and get better," Washington head coach Ron Rivera said. "We are on our way up, there are a lot of positives to take from this."

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