The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to Super Bowl 55 after their 31-26 win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.
The Bucs will take on the Kansas City Chiefs on February 7th at Raymond James Stadium.
It was not easy. The Packers gave the Bucs all they could handle before coming away with the 31-26 win.
The Bucs built a 21-10 halftime lead before Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers went to work in the third quarter scoring 13 unanswered points to close the gap to 28-23.
A Ryan Succop 46 yard field goal gave the Bucs a 31-23 lead 4:42 to go. The Packers got the ball back and drove to the Tampa eight yard line. Packers coach Matt LaFleur elected to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down, and that decision was costly as the Packers never got the ball back.
With the win the Buccaneers will become the first team in NFL history to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Tom Brady is now 10-4 in championship games and will be playing in his tenth Super Bowl.
Brady will be trying to win his seventh Super Bowl ring. Brady will join Peyton Manning as the only quarterback to take two teams to a Super Bowl.
Brady will be the first quarterback to lead an NFC team and an AFC team to Super Bowls.
Brady talked about the feeling of getting to play in another Super Bowl. “We’ve had a lot of people work really hard over a period of time to get to this point. It’s a tough journey to get here. To win another road playoff game is just a great achievement, and now a home Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history puts a lot of cool things in perspective. Anytime you’re the first time doing something, it’s usually a pretty cool thing.”
It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. The Bucs were 7-5 and coming off two disappointing losses at home to the Rams and the Chiefs. During the bye week, the Bucs refocused as a team and have not lost a game since.
Brady talked about that point in the season in his post game press conference. “We were at 7-5 seven weeks ago, not feeling great. We felt like we needed to find our rhythm. We played four great games down the stretch the last quarter of the season, and then after that, it was just all bonus, and we just had to play well. We played well in Washington, played well all the way around in New Orleans against a great football team and then came up here knowing that we needed to play great. Football’s the ultimate team sport, and it takes everybody. Everybody plays a role, and I’m just so proud of this whole team. I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”
One of the game’s turning points was the Sean Murphy-Bunting interception last in the first half to set the Bucs up in decent field position at their own 49.
The Bucs faced a third and four and had the punt team on the field. The Bucs called timeout and dialed up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Scotty Miller that gave the Bucs a 21-10 halftime lead.
Bruce Arians talked about that decision after the game. “We didn’t come here not to take chances to win the game. With the timeout and then the interception, I wanted to come out of there with points. I loved the play. We had a great matchup and the touchdown. I thought it was huge.”
The Bucs defense did a lot of bending but did not break down the stretch. The defense was tremendous in the fourth quarter as they were able to slow down Rodgers and the Packer offense.
The Bucs played without safety Antoine Winfield Jr and lost starting safety Jordan Whitehead early in the second half with a shoulder injury.
The pass rush did a great job of putting pressure on Rodgers and sacked Rodgers five times. Barrett had three sacks, and Pierre-Paul had two sacks.
Devin White had 15 tackles for the Bucs, a franchise record for a playoff game.
The Bucs’ offensive line got the better of the Packer’s front seven, keeping Green Bay sack leaders Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith at bay.
Dropped balls continued to haunt the Bucs as they dropped seven passes in the game. Fournette and Godwin each had two drops. Evans, Miller, and Johnson each had a dropped pass.
The Bucs will get a chance to avenge the loss against the Kansas City Chiefs suffered in week 12 of the season at home 27-24.
Brady vs. Mahomes in Super Bowl 55.
It should be one for the ages.