The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are only a win away from reaching the Super Bowl after an impressive performance over the New Orleans Saints. Tom Brady has guided the franchise toward their first NFC championship game berth in well over a decade. With Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers waiting ahead, Brady and the Buccaneers just avoided a significant blow.
Buccaneers edge past Saints to reach NFC title game
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took another significant step toward Super Bowl contention after pushing past the New Orleans Saints.
The third matchup this season between the two NFC South division rivals had a much different outcome than the previous two meetings that were dominated by New Orleans. It was the Saints’ struggles with turnovers that put them behind the eight ball at home.
Star quarterback Drew Brees struggled to throw the ball with three interceptions, including two committed in the fourth quarter that sealed the game. Tom Brady by no means had a standout outing, but he put together a solid performance with three total touchdowns with 199 passing yards and zero turnovers.
The Buccaneers played mistake-free while converting 3-of-6 red zone trips that proved to be the difference. Tampa Bay didn’t go completely unscathed in the win as they lost star wideout Antonio Brown to injury. The team has quickly received an update on the situation concerning Brown’s health ahead of the NFC championship game.
Tom Brady avoids a major blow ahead of facing Aaron Rodgers and Packers
In the divisional-round win over the Saints, the Buccaneer saw All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown exit early with a knee injury.
Despite those lingering concerns, NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the 32-year-old avoided a severe injury and is considered day-to-day ahead of the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers.
The Buccaneers will likely keep a lighter load for Brown in practice to avoid any possible setbacks. The star wide receiver has progressed into a significant role in the offense since joining the team.
His strong chemistry with Tom Brady has continued to improve over the brief tenure that could see him play a significant role against the Packers. Aside from Rob Gronkowski, Brown is the most playoff experienced passing game option that the Buccaneers possess.
In 12 career postseason games, he has 54 receptions for 896 receiving yards and five touchdowns. If anything, his presence gives Tampa Bay another offensive factor that can help lift them to a Super Bowl berth.
Green Bay presents a tough challenge ahead
The NFC championship game will feature a rematch between two teams that played in Week 6 of the regular season.
In that matchup, the Buccaneers coasted to a blowout win that handed the Packers their first loss of the year. Aaron Rodgers initially guided Green Bay to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the tide completely shifted in the other direction after that point.
Tampa Bay responded with 38-unanswered points, including 28 points scored in the second quarter alone. Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdowns while one of Rodgers’ two interceptions in the contest resulted in a returned touchdown.
If the playoffs proved anything so far, this second meeting between them will play out much differently. The Packers are hitting their stride, with Rodgers playing at an MVP level, while much of the same can be said about the Buccaneers.
All that should shape up to be a highly entertaining NFC championship game with a Super Bowl berth on the line.