The Packers made it easy for the Buccaneers in the first half of today's NFC Championship Game, and Tampa Bay took advantage. Then the Bucs made things easy for the Pack in the second half, only for Green Bay to crap themselves. As a result, Tom Brady is going to the Super Bowl on the back of a 31-26 victory, and Aaron Rodgers is going home.
One would be forgiven for completely counting Green Bay out after just the first 30 minutes of this contest, as the Packers defense could not string together three good plays in a row to keep Brady from marching down the field. This tweet, from just before the end of the second, does a good job telling the morale-crushing story of Tampa Bay's start.
And just before the teams went back to the locker rooms, Tom Brady effortlessly hooked up with Scotty Miller—Scotty Miller, really?—for a 39-yard touchdown that made the score 21-10. The Bucs then inflated their lead to 18 right after halftime thanks to an almost immediate Aaron Jones fumble.
But Aaron Rodgers' goose was not quite cooked, as Brady found himself subdued by the cold weather of Lambeau on three straight drives following the Bucs' final TD. Tom threw an interception, and then he threw an interception, and then he threw another interception. But even after the Packers got those three extra possessions, the score was still 28-23 Tampa. Green Bay's inability to pass block for Rodgers kept him from truly being able to take advantage, and the Bucs finished the day with five sacks.
Even so, Rodgers is traditionally so clutch that GB always has a chance when he's got the rock. Starting a drive inside the last five minutes and with his team trailing by eight, the Packers QB strung together a few passes to get his boys inside the ten with 2:22 on the clock. That's when the offense stalled out with three straight incompletions. But still, Green Bay had one of the all-time great quarterbacks and all they needed to keep the game going was an eight-yard gain and then a two-point conversation. So what they did is ... Matt LaFraud sent on the goddamn field goal unit.
Mathematically, it was apparently a fairly poor choice in what was going to be a very difficult situation either way. Metaphorically, it never felt like anything but a white flag. What the hell, man.
Thanks in part to a big pass interference call—don't you dare complain about that because these fraidy cats willingly gave Brady the ball back with a lead—the Packers never got another possession. That Mason Crosby three-pointer was their final offensive (pun intended) play from scrimmage. Sigh.