NFL

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers maintain off Inexperienced Bay Packers to punch Tremendous Bowl ticket

Tom Brady goes again to the Tremendous Bowl. For a 10th time. On the age of 43.

However this time it comes because the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady and the Bucs knocked off the No. 1-seeded Green Bay Packers 31-26 in Sunday’s NFC Championship Recreation at Lambeau Area. They now will face the defending Tremendous Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs — a 38-24 winner over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC Championship Recreation — at Raymond James Stadium in Tremendous Bowl LV.

The Bucs will develop into the primary staff in NFL historical past to play a Tremendous Bowl in their very own stadium. As Brady walked off the sector Sunday, he shouted to teammate Devin White, “D-White, the place we going? We’re going dwelling!”

“I assume once I was holding the Halas Trophy, I used to be like, ‘Oh my gosh. We’re really gonna do it,'” coach Bruce Arians mentioned. “We are able to dream about wanting throughout the road [at the stadium] for 2 weeks.”

Arians will develop into the second-oldest coach behind Marv Levy to achieve a Tremendous Bowl at 68 years and 127 days outdated, whereas Brady will develop into the oldest participant at any place to play in a Tremendous Bowl.

“It was clearly the purpose of ours to begin the season, however attending to the Tremendous Bowl wasn’t what our purpose is,” Arians mentioned. “Our purpose was to win it.”

The Bucs hadn’t been to the postseason in 13 years or gained a postseason sport in almost twenty years — when Brady’s reign with the New England Patriots had simply begun. But Tampa Bay emerged because the free-agency darkish horse nobody noticed coming when Brady determined to depart the Patriots within the offseason.

“It has been an amazing journey to date,” Brady mentioned. “We put the work in. Guys simply embraced every thing, actually, when [Arians] obtained right here final yr. There was loads of nice issues that had been occurring, loads of nice younger gamers. I simply decided. I’ve beloved coming to work day by day with this group of fellows.”

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Tom Brady praises the work the Buccaneers put on this season and says being the primary staff to host a Tremendous Bowl “places loads of cool issues in perspective.”

Many felt it was arguably the largest skilled threat of Brady’s profession to depart his longtime coach, Invoice Belichick, and go to the Bucs. To make issues worse, Brady had no offseason to collaborate with coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and no preseason to work out the kinks in a brand new system due to COVID-19. Critics pointed to his struggles with the deep ball. They feared his relationship with Arians was already unraveling.

“We had been at 7-5 seven video games in the past, not feeling nice. We felt like we would have liked to search out our rhythm. We performed 4 video games down the stretch the final quarter of the season, after which after that, it was simply all bonus,” mentioned Brady, who entered the postseason for the primary time as a highway wild-card staff.

“The fellows got here by. Everybody stepped as much as the problem. … It takes everyone, and everyone performs a task. I am simply so happy with this entire staff and blessed to be part of it.”

In opposition to the Packers, Brady accomplished 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns, with Leonard Fournette spinning his solution to a fourth rating on the bottom.

The protection, taking part in with 347-pound nostril deal with Vita Vea for the primary time since Week 5, sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 5 instances — three from Shaq Barrett and two from Jason Pierre-Paul — and compelled two turnovers. Nickelback Sean Murphy-Bunting picked off Rodgers within the second quarter, and security Jordan Whitehead pressured a fumble that was recovered by linebacker White.

However then Whitehead left the sport with a shoulder damage, leaving the Bucs with out each of their beginning safeties because the Packers started to rally within the second half. Brady threw three second-half interceptions — two to cornerback Jaire Alexander and one to security Adrian Amos — whereas Rodgers threw touchdowns to tight finish Robert Tonyan and large receiver Davante Adams.

The Packers had an opportunity to tie the rating, down eight factors with the ball at Tampa Bay’s 8-yard line on fourth-and-goal, however they determined to kick a subject purpose with simply over two minutes to go within the sport. They by no means obtained the ball again.

“The resiliency of the crew — the protection gritted their enamel and went out and obtained [the ball] again for us and we made some large, large performs,” Arians mentioned, earlier than addressing Brady’s play on the Bucs’ last drive to seal the sport. “It is simply water off his again. It is like, ‘Hey, let’s go get it.’ Nothing phases him.”

“Simply his composure — he is been right here earlier than, he is been in these large moments, and we all know he is gonna get it executed,” large receiver Scotty Miller mentioned. “Clearly he had a pair picks, however when it is all on the road, he is gonna make the play.”

Brady now will get to attempt to do one thing his boyhood idol Joe Montana couldn’t: go all the way in which with a brand new staff in his first yr. Montana got here shut, main the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to the AFC Championship Recreation in 1993, however they misplaced to the Payments 30-13.

So it is again to Tampa for Brady and the Bucs. It is becoming that as staff reworked Raymond James Stadium over the previous few weeks — changing Buccaneers signage with that of “Tremendous Bowl LV” and the Lombardi Trophy — that they conveniently stored one panel of the outer facade intact, on the southwest nook entrance: the picture of Tom Brady and Mike Evans.

May as nicely depart it up. And perhaps hearth the cannons.

“Tom’s the GOAT. Final yr I feel we ended 7-9, and now we’re heading to the Tremendous Bowl,” Miller mentioned. “He is on the helm. He is our chief. He is in all probability the largest motive we’re the place we’re.”

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