The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were crowned champions of the NFC today defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-26. Tampa came out of the gates swinging and Tome Brady put up huge numbers in the first half guiding the Bucs to an 11 point halftime lead. Despite the offense falling off the table in the second half, the defense was able pressure Aaron Rodgers, cause turnovers, and come up with key stops. Even though their lead almost evaporated, they once again found a way win. Super Bowl 55 will be at Raymond James Stadium on February 7th.
The Bucs are heading to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. The reason they are doing so, is the G.O.A.T, Mr. Tom Brady. A key for the Bucs coming into this game was getting of to a good start and scoring early and often. That is exactly what he did, as he drove Tampa Bay down the field and capped it off with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. Brady would throw another with seconds remaining in the first half. After a 4th & 1 conversion, Green Bay left a single high safety which allowed the Buccaneers to exploit a one-on-one matchup using Scotty Miller on the sidelines. Miller accelerated past the defender and found himself catching a 39 yard TD that would change the course of the game. The touchdown gave Tampa an 11 point lead at the half.
This was huge not only because Green Bay took the opening possession of the second half down for a touchdown, but because Tampa’s offense struggled. Tom Brady threw three interceptions on three drives. On two of them, the Packers had the chance to take the lead an could not. In the end though, it was Tampa’s fast start that propelled them to an NFC title.
Defense was Challenged
Challenges for the defense started before the game even began. The Bucs’ sensational rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. sat out of todays game with an ankle injury sustained in practice. In addition, Jordan Whitehead left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. The Bucs, down to the backup safeties performed admirably. Although giving up 381 yards, they forced two turnovers and were able to harass Rodgers in the backfield. Shaq Barrett would pick up three sacks, while Jason Pierre-Paul had two. They also were able to get stops when they most needed them. Especially forcing Green Bay to settle for a field goal on their last possession, and after one of Brady’s interception. They were challenged significantly more than in the divisional round. They responded with a level of resilience to be admired.
Despite the stupendous play of the Buccaneers defense, they were aided by questionable play calling on the part of Packers’ head coach Matt LaFleur. Down by 8 points he decided to kick a field goal and hope for another possession of going for it with a chance to tie the game. Lafleur said after the game “Anytime it doesn’t work out you always regret it”. However his quarterback, whos is now 1-4 in conference championship games said “It wasn’t my decision”. This is the fourth time the packers have lost the NFC championship game in the last seven years.
The Bucs Homecoming
The Buccaneers will make history as the first team to have a home Super Bowl. The will play the winner of the AFC either the Buffalo Bills or a rematch of week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs. For Brady it will be his 10th Super Bowl appearance. Brady said after the game “Its been a great journey thus far… we put in the work and a lot of guys embraced everything” and that their next opponent “will be really tough too”. When asked about playing a home super Brady said it puts things in perspective. “Anytime you’re the first one doing something, that’s usually pretty special”. Next the Bucs will have the chance to something not just special but extraordinary. That is winning the franchise’s second Super Bowl in your own stadium.
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