Sun Jan 24 8:56pm ET
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with his teammates after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady reacts after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady waves to spectators after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with Donovan Smith after winning the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) holds the championship trophy after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams (17) catches a two-yard pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Green Bay Packers' Jamaal Williams pushes off Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Devin White during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Scott Miller (10) celebrates his 39-yard touchdown reception with Tristan Wirfs against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Scott Miller catches a 39-yard touchdown pass against Green Bay Packers' Kevin King during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Scott Miller reacts after catching a 39-yard touchdown pass against Green Bay Packers' Kevin King during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jason Pierre-Paul reacts after sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Green Bay Packers' Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jason Pierre-Paul sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepts a pass intended for Green Bay Packers' Allen Lazard during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Sean Murphy-Bunting (23) celebrates after intercepting a pass intended for Green Bay Packers' Allen Lazard during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Tom Brady has a new team, in a new town. The destination is the same: another Super Bowl.
At home, too.
The man with six NFL titles will become the first quarterback to play a Super Bowl on his team's home field. He owes the Tampa Bay defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, and a curious late call on fourth-and-goal by the Packers as Brady and the Bucs beat top-seeded Green Bay 31-26 for the NFC title Sunday.
''It's great to get another road win and now we got a home game, and who would have ever thought a home Super Bowl for us,'' Brady said. ''But we did it.
''I thought the defense was spectacular. They've done that all year.''
The Bucs (14-5) will face either the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7. No, a host team in the Super Bowl has never happened in 54 previous games.
''We're coming home,'' said Bucs coach Bruce Arians, whose first NFL coaching job was as an assistant in 1989 with Kansas City, and won two league Coach of the Year awards, with Indianapolis in 2012, Arizona in 2014. He will make his first trip to the Super Bowl as a head coach. ''We're coming home to win.''
Brady is back in his first year at Tampa Bay after reaching this stage nine times with the New England Patriots. He went 20 of 36 for 286 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions as Tampa Bay squandered most of an 18-point lead. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for five sacks to help the Bucs hang on for their franchise-record eighth consecutive road victory.
It's quite a step up for a team that had one winning record in the last nine seasons.
''Tom is the GOAT (greatest of all time),'' said Bucs receiver Scotty Miller, who caught a 39-yard touchdown pass with 1 second left until halftime. ''Last year, we ended 7-9. This year, we're going to the Super Bowl. He's the biggest reason.''
The Bucs snapped Green Bay's seven-game winning streak. They were aided by a strange decision from Packers coach Matt LaFleur with just over two minutes remaining in a 31-23 game.
After three straight incompletions had the Packers facing fourth-and-goal from the 8, the Packers elected to kick a field goal to get within five.
''Anytime it doesn't work out you always regret it, right?'' LaFleur said. ''It was just circumstance of having three shots and coming away with no yards. And knowing that you not only need the touchdown but you'd need the 2-point. The way I was looking at it is we essentially had four timeouts with the 2-minute warning, we knew we needed to get a stop.''
Tampa Bay then ran out the clock on the Packers (14-4).
''I understand the thinking - above two minutes with all of our timeouts - but it wasn't my decision,'' Rodgers said.
The Packers lost in the NFC championship game for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. Green Bay hasn't reached the Super Bowl since its 2010 championship season.
Rodgers went 33 of 48 for 346 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, but fell to 1-4 in conference championship games as a starting quarterback. The Packers had the NFL's best red-zone offense this season, but they twice settled for field goals after having a first-and-goal Sunday.
''I'm just pretty gutted,'' Rodgers said. ''It's a long season. You put so much into it to get to this point. We had our chances.''
Tampa Bay took command in the middle portion of the game.
After Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted a Rodgers pass and Tampa Bay converted a fourth-and-4, the Bucs were at Green Bay's 39 while leading 14-10 with 8 seconds remaining in the second quarter The Bucs passed up a long field-goal attempt, and Brady found Miller down the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown with just 1 second remaining.
''We didn't come here to not take chances to win the game,'' Arians said. ''Love the play we had. Got a great matchup and got a TD. That was huge.''
The Packers got the ball to start the second half, and Aaron Jones caught a short third-down pass. He took a huge hit from Jordan Whitehead that knocked the ball loose. Devin White recovered and ran 21 yards to the Green Bay 8.
One play later, Brady found a wide-open Cameron Brate to extend Tampa Bay's lead to 28-10.
The Packers rallied as Brady threw interceptions on three straight drives for just the second time in his career. Green Bay cut the lead to 28-23 late in the third quarter on Rodgers' touchdown passes to Robert Tonyan and Davante Adams.
Twice in the fourth quarter, the Packers got the ball with a chance to take the lead after Jaire Alexander picked off Brady passes deep in Green Bay territory. Both times, the Packers went three-and-out.
''I felt like we had plenty of opportunities tonight to take advantage of and get the job done,'' LaFleur said. ''We didn't do it, and that falls on me and that's a tough pill to swallow when you're responsible for everybody in this organization to make sure that you're on your `A; game, and I don't feel like I was tonight. I'm just pretty disappointed that (I) let a lot of people down.''
It's been quite a ride for Brady and the Bucs. Brady moved to Tampa as a free agent and brought star tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to join him. But with limited practice time with his new teammates because of coronavirus protocols, the Bucs didn't get rolling until after their bye week.
Now look where they are.
''It's been a great journey this far,'' Brady said.
And it's taking them right back home.
SUCCESS DURING A PANDEMIC
The Buccaneers are the third Tampa team to play for a championship during the pandemic. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2020, and the Rays lost to the Dodgers in the World Series.
Jones hurt 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 in the second half.
The Bucs played the entire game without wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle).
The Bucs return home to play in the Super Bowl.
The Packers' season is over.
Interview with a Champ
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense played another strong game in a 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Tampa Bay sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, forcing one interception and a fumble in the huge win. The Buccaneers' pass rush was fueled by two players- linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had three sacks and four quarterback hits, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks. Rising star Devin White led the team in tackles with 15, as he was a thorn in the side of the Packers' offensive plans all game long. Tampa Bay's defense will have its hands full in the Super Bowl against either Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, though this unit is playing some excellent football at the right time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski caught just one pass for 29 yards in his team's 31-26 win over the Packers. Gronkowski went catch-less through three quarters before picking up 29 yards on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Tampa Bay for a field goal. The former Patriot has nearly been an every-down player for the Buccaneers in the playoffs but has done little as a pass-catcher, as he's taken a backseat to fellow tight end Cameron Brate. No stranger to the big game, Gronkowski will get a chance to redeem himself in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate played a key role in another playoff victory for his team. Brate produced just 19 total yards, though he caught a third-quarter touchdown that helped extend the Buccaneers' lead to 28-10. The Harvard product exceeded 50 yards just once in the regular season but has accomplished the feat twice in Tampa Bay's three playoff wins. Tom Brady clearly has a trust for Brate as a pass-catcher, something that appears likely to continue as Tampa Bay prepares to be the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller saw extended playing time with Antonio Brown (knee) sidelined and made the most of it. Miller caught two passes for 36 receiving yards and a touchdown in the NFC title game victory. He came up with a huge play at the very end of the first half, hauling in a 39-yard bomb from Tom Brady with just seconds left until halftime. Miller has shown a knack for making big plays when given the playing time, as he has three scores this year of 30 yards or more. His services may not be needed in the Super Bowl if Antonio Brown (knee) is healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin enjoyed a strong game in Sunday's NFC title game win over Green Bay. Godwin hauled in five of a team-high nine targets for 110 receiving yards. He came up with a huge, 52-yard grab that led to a Leonard Fournette touchdown in the first half. Godwin has exceeded 70 receiving yards in four of his last five contests and has led the Buccaneers in targets in each of their three playoff wins. While Antonio Brown (knee) will have a good chance of returning in time for the Super Bowl, Godwin should remain Brady's top target for the big game in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was stifled by the Green Bay defense, though his team will still be advancing to the Super Bowl. Jones carried the ball 10 times but produced just 16 yards, as he failed to find any room to run on the Packers' front. He's taken a backseat to Leonard Fournette during the playoffs, though the coaching staff seems committed to keeping this backfield as somewhat of a split. Jones should be well-positioned for a bounce-back performance in the Super Bowl regardless of opponent, as both the Bills and Chiefs have had their struggles stopping the run.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans caught three of eight targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. Most of Evans' production came in the first half, as he found himself free of Jaire Alexander's coverage on the first series of the game. He beat corner Kevin King in the end zone for a score, his 15th total touchdown of the season- including the playoffs. He did struggle with some drops, though he'll get a chance to rectify that in the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay will await the winner of the Chiefs-Bills game.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan caught four passes for only 22 yards in the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. Tonyan led the NFL in the regular season, among tight ends, with 11 touchdowns but was held in check in this game. The Packers tried to get Tonyan on the run with some bootleg passes but the Buccaneers did an excellent job tackling on the edges. The 26-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign but could be over-valued heading into the offseason due to touchdown-regression next season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette carried the ball 12 times for 55 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 31-26 win over the Packers. Fournette added five catches for 19 yards. The star back delivered a highlight-reel touchdown in the first half, bouncing a run to the outside and pulling off an impressive spin move en route to the end zone. He's been very productive for Tampa Bay during their playoff run- averaging 20.7 touches and 104.3 scrimmage yards per game along with three scores in three contests. Fournette should continue to operate as the 1a to Ronald Jones II's 1b when Tampa Bay plays in the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three passes for 62 yards in the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. Lazard saw six targets in the game and made some nice contributions as the Packers played from behind most of the game. Lazard got off to a solid start this season but injuries prevented him from taking his game to another level. The 25-year-old finished the regular season with 33 receptions for 451 yards with three touchdowns. But the Packers head into the offseason still looking for a true complementary receiver to produce alongside star receiver Davante Adams. Whether Lazard can step into that role will depend on his development during the offseason.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine passes for 67 yards with one touchdown in the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. Tampa Bay did all it could to contain Adams and, for the most part, did a solid job. But Adams is too talented to be shut down for long and picked up his 20th (regular season and playoffs combined) touchdown of the season. The elite receiver was able to move the chains on some smaller receptions but was unable to truly bust out. Adams finished the regular season with 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns.. He then backed that up with 18 receptions and two touchdowns in two playoff games. Adams will sit atop the fantasy charts among wide receivers heading into the offseason.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught four passes for 115 yards and one touchdown in the Packers 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Title Game. With Tampa Bay focusing on stopping star receiver Davante Adams, Valdes-Scantling stepped up early and often. The 26-year-old got the Packers on the board by catching a 50-yard bomb from quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a touchdown. Valdes-Scantling would come up with some huge chunk plays in the second half as Green Bay played from behind. Valdes-Scantling scored six touchdowns during the regular season but inconsistency plagued his fantasy value all year. Green Bay will continue to look to find a receiver that can produce consistently alongside Adams next season. Whether that can be Valdes-Scantling will be something to monitor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in a 31-26 win over the Packers. Brady was excellent in the first half, as he tossed two beautiful touchdowns, one to Mike Evans and the other a deep ball to Scotty Miller with just seconds left on the clock in the second quarter. The veteran signal-caller did have to contend with drops again, but he himself was a bit off in the second half, as he threw three picks. Still, it was a good enough performance for Brady to reach his 10th Super Bowl, this time in new threads. Tampa Bay will become the first team to host the big game and play in it, as they await the winner of Buffalo and Kansas City in the AFC title game.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 33-of-48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Packers 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. Rodgers may be heading towards an MVP award this season and he played that way most of this game. The veteran shook off a couple of shaky early drives to connect with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 50-yard touchdown to get the Packers on the board. Rodgers took five sacks in the game but kept making plays, delivering two passing touchdowns in the third quarter to keep the game close. The biggest question mark heading into the offseason will be, however, why head coach Matt LaFleur elected to kick a field goal in the final minutes with the Packers in the red zone and a chance to tie the game. The game was in the hands of a quarterback who posted 50-plus touchdowns during the regular season and playoffs and now LaFleur's decision will certainly come with criticism. What cannot be debated is the performance Rodgers has displayed all season long and is back in the top-five category among fantasy passers heading into the offseason.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (chest) left the team's NFC Championship Game against the Buccaneers and did not return. Jones posted only 27 rushing yards in the first half of the game and became involved in a game-swinging moment at the end of the second quarter. The talented back caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers, turned up field and fumbled the ball at midfield. Jones was injured on the play and the Buccaneers picked up a crucial touchdown before the half. The 2020 Packers will be remembered for its passing attack but Jones posted 10-plus total touchdowns for the second straight season. Jones heads into the offseason as a free agent and returning to the Packers next season is certainly up in the air moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is significantly more expensive in DFS than the other tight ends on Sunday's slate, but with the Buffalo Bills allowing the eighth-most fantasy points in the regular season to the position, it makes sense to pay up for Kelce. That's not even factoring in his regular-season game against them in which Kelce caught five passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns. The veteran tight end had 11 regular season touchdown receptions plus another score in the playoff opener against Cleveland.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill only had 20 receiving yards in the first meeting between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, but his role has continued to expand since that game. He's been targeted 10 or more times in seven of the last 10 games and is the highest upside wide receiver play on Sunday's Championship Game slate. While the Bills Defense will offer a little more trouble for Kansas City than Cleveland did last week, Hill's connection with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is impossible to ignore when building a lineup.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (back) will be active for the NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday despite being listed as questionable to play. King popped up on the injury report on Friday, which is usually never a good sign, but he will be active. The 25-year-old missed the team's Week 6 loss to these same Buccaneers. Top cornerback Jaire Alexander should be matched up with Tampa's No. 1 wideout in Mike Evans for most of the game, which could leave King left to defend Scotty Miller or rookie Tyler Johnson with Antonio Brown (knee) out. The Packers Defense allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers, so Tom Brady and the Bucs passing attack will have their work cut out for them minus Brown.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones is a strong fantasy option most weeks, but Sunday's NFC Championship game against Tampa could be one of those games where you don't want Jones in your lineup. His worst game of the season came against Tampa when he was held to just 15 rushing yards on 10 carries. He found the end zone that week, but with Tampa allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game this year to the position, you're probably going to be betting on a touchdown to get any value from Jones this week. There are better DFS plays, even on a two-game slate.
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense has been really good and even shut the Packers down earlier this season, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is simply too good to downgrade too much in this matchup. He was targeted 10 times the last time these teams faced, catching six passes for 61 yards. It was one of just three games this season where he didn't find the end zone. Adams is one of the NFL's most consistently good wideouts, and while his floor might be lower than normal this week, his ceiling remains very high. Don't be overexposed to him in DFS, but don't ignore Adams on this slate.