NFC Championship game: Bucs defense the key in Green Bay
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team to host a Super Bowl thanks to a 31-26 win at Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The Bucs defense stepped up to another level last week to edge the team past New Orleans and it was more of the same against the Packers, consistently getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers, all but nullifying the Packers run game and forcing AR12 to throw the ball or be sacked.
Tom Brady & Aaron Rodgers, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time were facing off in the playoffs for the first time and the match was everything fans could have wanted as the two played out a classic shootout between two QB's.
The Buccaneers started fastest as Tom Brady found Mike Evans in the end zone on the first drive of the game after converting on three straight 3rd downs, while Rodgers and Green Bay struggled to get anything going on offense. Thankfully for Packers fans the second quarter started with Rodgers finding Valdes-Scantling way down the field for the touchdown and we had a game on our hands. The Bucs answered back however and thanks to an impressive rushing td from Leonard Fournette & a last gasp Brady classic with just one second left on the clock, Tampa Bay went in at half time with a 21-10 lead.
After adding another Brady touchdown early in the third, the momentum of the game began to swing towards Green Bay for the first time as they answered back to make it 28-17 and forced Brady into three straight interceptions, however the Bucs defense stepped up and answered the call as the limited the Packers to just six points off the three picks to keep Tampa Bay on top. The key phase of the game followed in the space of 30 seconds, on 3rd & goal Rodgers decided to attempt a pace into the end zone when it appeared he had room to rush in the score himself then with just over 2 two minutes remaining and the Packers down by eight, Coach LaFleur appeared to show a lack of trust in Aaron Rodgers by choosing to kick a field goal instead of going for the potentially game tying score. This proved crucial in the end as the Buccaneers picked up three first downs to close out the game and seal their place at Super Bowl LV.
The Buccaneers won three games on the road to book their place in the Super Bowl and now become the first team ever to host a Super Bowl. Tom Brady will now play in his 10th Super Bowl and after talking down the heavily favoured Saints & Packers over the past two weeks, the Bucs will be full of confidence. Tampa Bay built to win in the two years they have Brady for and they will get their chance on February 7th.
The Packers had the best player in the league this season in Aaron Rodgers, who should still win MVP despite this loss, but their head coach showed a lack of faith in his future hall of famer while Bucs coach Bruce Arians handed Brady the keys and told him to do his thing.
Rodgers after the game, on the call not go for it on fourth down. "It was not my decision"
The Packers will have more chances to win over the coming years but it does feel like Rodgers just lost his best shot at winning a second Super Bowl ring.