Antoine Winfield Jr helping the Buccaneers beat the Saints on Sunday was the settling of family business.
His name is Antoine Winfield Jr., they killed his father’s Super Bowl dreams so the Saints needed to die.
That’s not hyperbole, rather it was the motivation that Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Antonie Winfield Jr carried into the NFC Divisional Round matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
Winfield and the Bucs went into the Superdome on Sunday and walked away with a 30-20 victory and a punched ticket to the NFC Championship. While the victory was sweet for obvious reasons, Winfield brought an ax he had been grinding for the last decade into the matchup to help slay the Saints.
This wasn’t revenge for the Saints thrashing of the Bucs on Sunday Night Football earlier this year, or payback for the Week 1 loss. This was vengeance 12 years in the making after the Saints beat Winfield’s father and the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
Antoine Winfield shouted out the Vikings after beating the Saints
Winfield might be a rookie making his first trip to the playoffs, but postseason football is a family business. Specifically, his father Antoine Winfield Sr came within a game of the Super Bowl but lost a heartbreaker to the Saints.
It’s a loss that Winfield Jr didn’t forget, and he was quick to call it out as motivation after the Bucs victory.
“Made some grown men cry last night and I don’t feel bad about it,” Winfield wrote on Instagram. “That was for my pops back in .”
Winfield, who grew up in Minnesota while his father played for the Vikings and played for the Gophers in college, was instrumental in the Bucs win on Sunday. He forced a crucial fumble in the second half that turned the tide in Tampa’s favor and seemingly put the game out of reach.
While Vikings fans won’t be watching playoff football this year, there’s a certain satisfaction in having this loose end tied up.
Minnesota got its revenge in the Minneapolis Miracle (and last year in a stunning Wild Card upset) but watching Winfield Jr avenge his father’s loss in the 2009 NFC title game may finally wash as much of that sour taste out of the mouths of fans.