Tom Brady has a brand new staff, in a brand new city. The vacation spot is similar: one other Tremendous Bowl.
At residence, too.
The person with six NFL titles will develop into the primary quarterback to play a Tremendous Bowl on his staff’s residence subject. He owes the Tampa Bay protection that sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 instances, and a curious late name on fourth-and-goal by the Packers as Brady and the Bucs beat top-seeded Inexperienced Bay 31-26 for the NFC title Sunday.
“It’s nice to get one other street win and now we obtained a house sport, and who would have ever thought a house Tremendous Bowl for us,” Brady mentioned. “However we did it.
“I assumed the protection was spectacular. They’ve achieved that every one yr.”
The Bucs (14-5) will face both the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs or Buffalo Payments at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7. No, a number staff within the Tremendous Bowl has by no means occurred in 54 earlier video games.
“We’re coming residence,” mentioned Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who started his teaching profession in 1975 at Texas Tech and can make his first journey to the Tremendous Bowl as a head coach. “We’re coming residence to win.”
Brady is again in his first yr at Tampa Bay after reaching this stage 9 instances with the New England Patriots. He went 20 of 36 for 286 yards and three touchdowns, but additionally threw three interceptions as Tampa Bay squandered most of an 18-point lead. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul mixed for 5 sacks to assist the Bucs hold on for his or her franchise-record eighth consecutive street victory.
It’s fairly a step up for a staff that had one profitable document within the final 9 seasons.
“Tom is the GOAT (best of all time),” mentioned Bucs receiver Scotty Miller, who caught a 39-yard landing go with 1 second left till halftime. “Final yr, we ended 7-9. This yr, we’re going to the Tremendous Bowl. He’s the most important cause.”
The Bucs snapped Inexperienced Bay’s seven-game profitable streak. They had been aided by a wierd resolution from Packers coach Matt LaFleur with simply over two minutes remaining in a 31-23 sport.
After three straight incompletions had the Packers dealing with fourth-and-goal from the 8, the Packers elected to kick a subject objective to get inside 5.
“Anytime it doesn’t work out you at all times remorse it, proper?” LaFleur mentioned. “It was simply circumstance of getting three pictures and coming away with no yards. And understanding that you just not solely want the landing however you’d want the 2-point. The way in which I used to be it’s we basically had 4 timeouts with the 2-minute warning, we knew we wanted to get a cease.”
Tampa Bay then ran out the clock on the Packers (14-4).
“I perceive the pondering — above two minutes with all of our timeouts — however it wasn’t my resolution,” Rodgers mentioned.
The Packers misplaced within the NFC championship sport for the fourth time within the final seven seasons. Inexperienced Bay hasn’t reached the Tremendous Bowl since its 2010 championship season.
Rodgers went 33 of 48 for 346 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, however fell to 1-4 in convention championship video games as a beginning quarterback. The Packers had the NFL’s finest red-zone offense this season, however they twice settled for subject objectives after having a first-and-goal Sunday.
“I’m simply fairly gutted,” Rodgers mentioned. “It’s a protracted season. You set a lot into it to get thus far. We had our possibilities.”
Tampa Bay took command within the center portion of the sport.
After Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted a Rodgers go and Tampa Bay transformed a fourth-and-4, the Bucs had been at Inexperienced Bay’s 39 with 8 seconds remaining. The Bucs handed up a protracted field-goal try, and Brady discovered Miller down the left sideline for a 39-yard landing catch with simply 1 second remaining.
“We didn’t come right here to not take possibilities to win the sport,” Arians mentioned. “Love the play we had. Obtained an amazing matchup and obtained a TD. That was enormous.”
The Packers obtained the ball to start out the second half, and Aaron Jones caught a brief third-down go. He took an enormous hit from Jordan Whitehead that knocked the ball free. Devin White recovered and ran 21 yards to the Inexperienced Bay 8.
One play later, Brady discovered a wide-open Cameron Brate to increase Tampa Bay’s result in 28-10.
The Packers rallied as Brady threw interceptions on three straight drives for simply the second time in his profession. Inexperienced Bay reduce the result in 28-23 late within the third quarter on Rodgers’ landing passes to Robert Tonyan and Davante Adams.
Twice within the fourth quarter, the Packers obtained the ball with an opportunity to take the lead after Jaire Alexander picked off Brady passes deep in Inexperienced Bay territory. Each instances, the Packers went three-and-out towards Tampa Bay’s fierce protection.
It’s been fairly a experience for Brady and the Bucs. Brady moved to Tampa as a free agent and introduced star tight finish Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to hitch him. However with restricted observe time together with his new teammates due to coronavirus protocols, the Bucs didn’t get rolling till after their bye week.
Now look the place they’re.
“It’s been an amazing journey this far,” Brady mentioned.
And it’s taking them proper again residence.
SUCCESS DURING A PANDEMIC
The Buccaneers are the third Tampa staff to play for a championship in the course of the pandemic. The Lightning received the Stanley Cup in 2020, and the Rays misplaced to the Dodgers within the World Sequence.
Jones damage his chest and Whitehead injured his shoulder on the third-quarter play that resulted in a Jones fumble. Packers defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster (ankle) and linebacker Krys Barnes (thumb) left within the second half.
The Bucs performed your complete sport with out large receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and security Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle).
The Bucs return residence to play within the Tremendous Bowl.
The Packers’ season is over.
Comply with Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee
Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL