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Updated January 25, 2021 at 3:48 PM CT

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Tampa Bay defeats the Green Bay Packers to advance to Super Bowl LV

When: 2:05 PM CT, Sunday, January 24, 2021

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Temperature: 29° 

Head Official: Clete Blakeman

Attendance: 7772


       Tom Brady’s first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will crescendo with his team in Super Bowl LV. He now has a chance to win a seventh Super Bowl ring. He is also the first player to make 10 Super Bowls. Only three other quarterbacks ever have started Super Bowls for two teams, per the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Peyton Manning did it for the Colts and Broncos, Craig Morton for the Cowboys, and Broncos and Kurt Warner for the Rams and Cardinals. His departure from New England seems to have paid off.

Last year the Packers lost 37-20 to the 49ers in the NFC Championship.  Matt LaFleur becomes the 2nd coach to lose in the Conference Championship game in each of his first two seasons. Rex Ryan is the other.

After the loss, QB Aaron Rodgers expressed a far different sentiment.   “I’m just pretty gutted,” Rodgers said following the home loss against Tampa Bay, speaking slowly and deliberately, as he seemed to search for the right words. “It’s a long season. You put so much into it to get to this point and then, you know, the way — you know, we had our chances, so you know I’m not — different position than the last couple of these when we got blown out and really didn’t have a chance. . . . We had a lot of chances. . . . This one definitely stings and is going to for a long time.” 

Near the end of the session with reporters, Rodgers began to talk about the inevitable changes that will come to the Packers. Without prompting, he veered toward a discussion of his own future. “A lot of guys futures that are, you know, uncertain, myself included,” Rodgers said. “That’s what’s sad about it most. . . . Just the uncertainties is tough and the finality of it all.” Rodgers next was asked how the team will take the next step. “I don’t know, I really don’t,” he said. 

"There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now. And I’m going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything. But it’s pretty tough right now, especially thinking about the guys that may or may not be here next year. There’s always change. That’s the only constant in this business.” 

Consider what Rodgers said last year, immediately after the Packers were overpowered by San Francisco. “The window is open for us, and that’s the exciting thing,” Rodgers said at the time. “I think we’re gonna be on the right side of one of these real soon.” Rodgers, in that same session, gushed about the 2019 season in Green Bay. “This one is special because it became fun again,” Rodgers said. “I wouldn’t say this was our most talented team, but neither was 2010. And we just found a way.” 

Rodgers, for the 2020 season:

- 51 total TDs

- 4,299 yards

- 5 INTs

- 13-3 record


     Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns as the Bucs defeat the top-seeded Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship Game. It’s a fitting end for the 43-year-old Brady after he traded in the horrible New England winters for the sunshine from the sunshine state.

“It’s been a long process for the whole team,” Brady said during the post-game trophy ceremony. “Today was a great team effort. We played sporadically a little bit, but the defense came up huge. We’re going to need it again in a couple weeks. I know it’s a big game coming up.”

The Buccaneers will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium with the game set for Feb. 7 in Tampa, Fla. 

The Tampa defense did its part as Shaquil Barrett recorded three sacks and Jason Pierre-Paul added two while hounding Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“We knew it was time for us to affect the game and we knew we could because Aaron Rodgers holds the ball and wants to make the big plays,” Barrett said. “We just took advantage of the opportunities.”

Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards and survived three second-half interceptions as the fifth-seeded Buccaneers built a 17-point lead en route to reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. Tampa Bay also reached the big game in the 2002 season and walloped the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 for its only Super Bowl title.

Cameron Brate, Mike Evans and Scotty Miller caught touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette rushed for a score and Jordan Whitehead forced two fumbles before departing with a left shoulder injury. Devin White racked up 15 tackles and had a key fumble recovery as the Buccaneers won their third straight road game this postseason.

Rodgers completed 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for the Packers. Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Robert Tonyan caught touchdown passes and Jaire Alexander had two interceptions.

“I’m pretty gutted,” Rodgers said. “To get to this point — we had our chances. They went up three scores and we battled back. We had a lot of chances.”

Green Bay reached the Tampa Bay 8-yard line late in the game but for some insane reason settled for a Mason Crosby 26-yard field goal with 2:05 left to move within five points. The Buccaneers got the ball back and picked up three first downs while running out the clock.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he felt going for the field goal was the right call.

“Anytime it doesn’t work out, you always regret it,” LaFleur said. “The circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing you not only need the touchdown but the two-point conversion.

“I was looking at it that we have four timeouts with the two-minute warning. It didn’t work out.”

A reflective Rodgers said: “I was thinking we were going to have four chances (of scoring). ... That decision was made, and we moved on.”

Brady improved to 10-4 in conference championship games, while Rodgers dropped his fourth straight to fall to 1-4. The Packers have lost in the NFC title game in each of the past two seasons.

“This one does sting,” LaFleur said. “It will take a long time to get over this one.”

AllAccessSportingNews

AllAccessSportingNews

Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

Attributes: AASNSports; NFLMedia; GraceNotes; FieldLevelMedia



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