When Tom Brady announced his departure from New England, there was a lot of speculation on where the winningest quarterback in NFL history would end up and if he could continue his success with another franchise.
That speculation continued even as he led Tampa Bay to the playoffs. It even continued after the victory over the Saints in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
In the end, Brady is Brady. We should have known better.
He and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) pulled out a hard-fought game, upsetting the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, 31-26, to reach the Super Bowl for the first time for the franchise since 2002. They will become the first franchise to host a Super Bowl at their home stadium as Brady makes his record-setting tenth appearance in the
The Buccaneers have leaned on their defense this postseason, and they came through again on Sunday. The Buccaneers defense’s edge rushers, Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, were critical in keeping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers contained. Combining for 5 sacks, Barrett led the way with 3 as they came up clutch in the season’s biggest game.
“We knew there is no better time to be great. No better time to be the defense we wanted to be than right now. So we just took the challenge,” Barrett said after the game.
Buccaneers overcome three Brady interceptions
Brady and the Buccaneers offense were not flawless; the Packers’ defense intercepted Brady three times throughout the game,
while key drops put the offense in worse and worse spots.
However, Brady was able to make a few spectacular plays to push his team to victory. With time running out in the first half and leading by four, the Buccaneers looked like they were going to punt on a 4th down and 4. Head coach Bruce Arians called a time out and decided to put the offense back on the field. Arians said after the game that he changed his mind after calling the time out.
“I sent the punt team out. I went through a couple of scenarios in my head. The clock was stopped and I said, ‘no we’re going back out'” said Arians.
As Brady connected with running back Leonard Fournette to pick up the first down, his offense made good on that decision. On the next play, receiver Scotty Miller broke free and hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Brady with one second left in the half, extending the lead to 11.
Putting aside the interceptions, Brady finished with 280 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in the win. His top receiver, Chris Godwin, was also very effective. He finished with 5 catches for 110 yards.
Questionable calls late from Packers and Refferees
The Packers trailed by eight points in the fourth when Aaron Rodgers led an impressive drive into Buccaneers territory. Rodgers completed back-to-back passes to his top target, Davante Adams, to get the Packers into a first and goal scenario. When the Buccaneers defense forced three straight incompletions, it seemed inevitable that the Packers would go for it on fourth down with only two minutes left in the game.
Questionably, head coach Matt LaFleur decided against that thinking, choosing to kick a field goal instead, bring the deficit within five, and try to get the ball back from Tom Brady and the Buc’s offense.
They had a shot to do it, and when a third-down pass from Brady fell incomplete, it looked like they would have a chance to get the ball back. But a late penalty flag for pass interference ended any hopes of a Packers’ comeback. The penalty seemed to be the right call, but the call’s impact in that big of a moment was bound to draw criticism on social media, and it did.
After the game, coach Arians said he didn’t question the call by coach LaFleur to kick the field goal late.
“They had a lot of confidence in their defense at the time. I thought it was a good move by them,” said Arians.
SUPER BOWL LV, Chiefs vs. Buccaneers, Sunday, February 7