Tom Brady’s Buccaneers Take Down MVP Aaron Rodgers in NFC Title Game to Advance to the Super Bowl
Entering the postseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a Wild Card team on the road, beating the Washington Football Team. The Buccaneers advanced to the Divisional Round for a Brady/Brees matchup. Marking the first time in their careers they’ve ever played each other in the playoffs. As the Bucs faced a familiar foe, their division rival New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. Prior to this matchup, the Saints beat Brady’s Buccaneers twice in the regular season, including a 38-3 blowout. Despite the challenges earlier in the season, the Buccaneers prevailed, beating the Saints 30-20, in what is likely to be Drew Brees’ last game of his career.
The Green Bay Packers hosted the NFC Championship game for the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career. The last time the Packers hosted an NFC title game was 2008, in a 20-23 loss against the New York Giants, as that would ironically be Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer. The Packers’ had the league’s best offense, going 13-3 in the regular season. An offensive tandem of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones, seemed to be unstoppable all season. One of the three teams to beat Green Bay was Tampa Bay, in a 10-38 blowout in Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered this game without their standout rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. at Safety, who has drawn many comparisons to longtime Buccaneers corner Ronde Barber. Tampa Bay could have used him as Rodgers hit wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling deep for a 50-yard touchdown in the 2nd Quarter. Brady would deliver his own bomb for a 39-yard touchdown to Scotty Miller to close the half on top 21-10.
The Buccaneers would eventually go up 28-10 in the 3rd Quarter after another Tom Brady touchdown. The Packers would match with another touchdown of their own, the following possession the Packers picked off Brady. Capitalizing on the opportunity with a touchdown by the Green Bay offense. The Packers' defense shut down the Bucs again, as Jaire Alexander intercepted Brady giving Green Bay back the ball. The Tampa Bay defense would force the Packers to go three-and-out, after a Shaquil Barrett sack on Rodgers. Another interception would be snagged by Alexander, making it three total picks on the day for Brady. Again the Buccaneers defense answered back, as their defense was blanketed all over Rodgers. Making the Packer punt once again, on another three-and-out.
Both teams would kick a pair of field goals, giving Green Bay back the ball with a little over 4 minutes remaining. The Packers made their way down the field, reaching a 1st & Goal on the Tampa Bay 8 yard line. Rodgers dropped back to pass three straight plays. On 3rd down Rodgers forced the ball into Davante Adams's hands which resulted in a bat down by the Buccaneers secondary. Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and looked to have room to run it in for a touchdown, but passed it instead. As Green Bay would face a 4th & Goal on the goal line with about 2 minutes left in the game. Green Bay’s Head Coach Matt LaFleur decided to kick the field goal instead of going for it, despite being down 31-23 late in the 4th.
Tampa Bay would receive the ball on top 31-26, the Buccaneers were met with a 3rd & 4 and they passed. Brady’s pass went across the middle to what seemed to be an incompletion: a penalty was thrown very late against the Packers for Defensive Pass Interference. As Cornerback, Kevin King held onto his opponent's jersey, drawing a penalty and putting an end to the Packers season. Sending Tom Brady to his 10th Super Bowl in 20 seasons, as Tampa Bay will make it to their first Super Bowl since 2003.
Following the loss, Aaron Rodgers was disappointed and rightfully frustrated in his post-game interview. This looked to be the year that the Packers were back on top, after another NFC Championship loss. As Rodgers is uncertain about the future of himself and his teammates in Green Bay. This may be the beginning of the end of Rodgers tenure as a Green Bay Packer, as Brett Favre mentioned in April of last year, he does not expect Rodgers to finish his career in Title Town.
Super Bowl LV will be in Tampa Bay, Florida, making it the first time in NFL history a Super Bowl-bound team will be at home for the championship game. The Tampa Bay Bucs will face off against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes on February 7th in the Super Bowl. A matchup between the greatest ever and the greatest in the game right now, it should be a great Super Bowl.