Tom Brady was brought to Tampa Bay to lead the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, and on Sunday, he did just that. Behind a strong defense that sacked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers five times and forced two Green Bay turnovers, the Buccaneers were able to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LV by defeating the Packers 31-26 at Lambeau Field.
With the victory, Tampa Bay will become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Also, the Buccaneers are the first No. 5 seed in NFL history to defeat a No. 1 seed in a conference championship game, and the 43-year-old Brady will make his 10th Super Bowl appearance.
Brady, who went 20-of-36 for 280 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions on Sunday, is proud of his team’s journey.
“This is the ultimate team sport,” Brady said after the game. “We’ve had a lot of people work really hard over the course of a period of time to get to this point. It’s a tough journey to get here, so to go on the road and win another road playoff game is just a great achievement. Now, a home Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history, I think, puts a lot of cool things in perspective. Any time you’re the first time doing something, it’s usually a pretty good thing. Now we’ve just got to go have a great two weeks, prepare for whoever it is and be ready to go.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians added: “I couldn’t be happier for our players – they put in so much work – and our coaching staff has done such a great job. Ownership gave us everything that we’ve needed, and I just couldn’t be any more elated for these guys and the job they put in. We had both backup safeties in there, just playing their [butts] off. It was a great team win.”
While Brady had his moments in this game, this was about Tampa’s defense. The Buccaneers defense leads all playoff teams with seven takeaways and 41 points off takeaways, and they did a great job of shutting down Rodgers and the Packers in the fourth quarter(3 points), which Arians discussed after the game.
“I can’t say enough about them,” he said about Tampa’s defense. “They’ve been great in the fourth quarter all year, and we got some great stops. Took a couple chances on offense and tried to get more points – it didn’t work out, but they came back and got the ball right back for us.”
Buccaneers OLBs Shaquil Barrett(3.0 sacks) and Jason Pierre-Paul(2.0 sacks) combined for all of the team’s 5.0 sacks in the game. The 5.0 sacks on Sunday matched the Buccaneers’ postseason record for a single game. According to Pierre-Paul, this defense has played at a high level all year long.
“We closed the game out,” Pierre-Paul said. “Tom [Brady] closed the game out, and that was it. Don’t get me wrong, Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback – a phenomenal quarterback. It’s sad that he didn’t make it, but I’d rather them than us, you know? The defense just showed up like we showed up last year, this year, and the whole year.”
Many will talk about the Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s decision to kick a field goal late in the game on fourth and goal with Green Bay trailing 31-23. With a little over two minutes, the Packers had three timeouts, plus the two-minute warning, so in essence, they had four timeouts if they would’ve gotten stopped. Plus, they had Rodgers, who finished the game with 346 yards passing, three touchdowns, and one interception. However, Arians thought it was the right call.
“I thought they had a lot of confidence in their defense at that point in time,” he said. “I thought it was a good move by them.”
Barrett was surprised by the decision.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Barrett said. “I know if they could take that back, they probably wouldn’t do that next time.”
Ultimately, the Packers would not get the ball back.
Brady and the Buccaneers still have one more game to win to make this season the ultimate success, but for now, getting to Super Bowl is a massive accomplishment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.