Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
You just can’t keep Tom Brady out of the Super Bowl.
Once again, the future Hall of Famer is headed to the big game after Sunday’s 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at frigid Lambeau Field. Brady continued his fantastic age-43 season, throwing for three touchdowns in the win.
Tampa Bay will now be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl at its home stadium.
It wasn’t all roses—Brady’s three second-half interceptions allowed the Packers to nearly erase a 28-10 deficit and pull off an improbable comeback.
And a questionable pass interference call against the Packers with under two minutes remaining gave the Bucs a first down that allowed them to run out the clock. The Buccaneers had to hold on for dear life to secure this win.
But they got it, and it will be Brady’s 10th trip to the Super Bowl, giving him a shot at winning a seventh title. He’s now reached the NFL‘s pinnacle game in three separate decades, a truly remarkable achievement. It will also be Tampa’s first trip to the Super Bowl since it won it in the 2002 season.
For Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, meanwhile, it’s a second straight season reaching the NFC championship, only to come up short. Doing so at home, even with a limited crowd capacity, only adds to the disappointment.
Tom Brady, TB: 20-of-36 for 280 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions
Chris Godwin, TB: Five receptions for 110 yards
Mike Evans, TB: Three receptions for 51 yards and one touchdown
Aaron Rodgers, GB: 33-of-48 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB: Four receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown
Davante Adams, GB: Nine receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown
How Does Tom Brady Keep Doing This?
Exactly one NFL franchise has more Super Bowl appearances than Brady’s 10: You guessed it, the New England Patriots (11). If Brady wins a seventh title, he’ll have more than any NFL franchise. He already came into the season with more titles than any player in NFL history.
It may have been a rocky performance, but it was good enough. The Bucs will certainly take it.
Granted, this Tampa Bay team offered him arguably the best group of skill-position players he’s ever played with, or at least since he threw for 50 touchdown passes with Randy Moss and Wes Welker as weapons. Any quarterback would love to throw to players like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski and hand the ball to Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II.
But Brady is timeless, a living legend. At this point he’ll probably be winning playoff games well into his 50s. When it comes to Brady, assume he’ll push past the limits of your own expectations.
Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride
Another season, another failure to reach the Super Bowl for Green Bay. Rodgers, head coach Matt LaFleur and the Packers have to be sick of coming up just short.
You can bet there will be referendums this offseason on Rodgers’ legacy, with just one title and three losses in the NFC Championship Game since he replaced Brett Favre as the starter in 2008. It’s hard not to have that conversation in contrast with Brady’s incredible run of success, even if Rodgers is a clear Hall of Famer and one of the best players of his generation.
Granted, his offensive line didn’t exactly do him any favors, as Rodgers was sacked five times. The defense didn’t do its part, either.
The Packers had a great season, no doubt, all in the wake of the fans’ bewilderment at the team’s use of a first-round pick to select quarterback Jordan Love while generally ignoring the wide receiver position this offseason. Ironically, it wasn’t the receivers who let the team down Sunday.
LaFleur, who is an incredible 26-6 as the team’s head coach, will have his own questions to answer. Namely, why not go for it on fourth down, trailing by eight, with just over two minutes remaining rather than kick a field goal?
Green Bay never got the ball back, and now the organization has to find a way to get over the hump. Rodgers is 37 years old—his window won’t stay open much longer. Not everybody can be elite into their 40s like Brady. Sunday was a missed opportunity for the Packers.
Tampa Bay now awaits the winner of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills on Sunday evening. Super Bowl LV will be played on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. It will be a home game for the Bucs, with the contest being played at Raymond James Stadium.