FINAL: Packers lose to the Buccaneers 31-26, fall one game short of the Super Bowl
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WSAW) - For the 2nd straight year, the Packers come one step short of the Super Bowl with a 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game.
After the Packers fell down 28-10 early in the 3rd quarter, they forced three interceptions off Tom Brady and scored two touchdowns to cut the deficit to 28-23.
However, it wouldn’t get any closer than that. The Buccaneers would add a field goal and ice the game late to advance to their first Super Bowl since 2003. They also become the first team in NFL history to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
The Buccaneers started the game with the offense rolling. Tom Brady converted three third down conversions to put the Bucs in position to score. Those three plays accounted for 56 yards.
In the red zone, Brady fired a ball that floated over the reaching arm of Kevin King and into the hands of Mike Evans for the early score.
The Packers got the ball back and were able to get one first down. However, the Buccaneers defense was able to get to Rodgers for the sack. The Packers were forced to punt.
The Buccaneers began their march downfield, starting the game 5 for 5 on third down. But finally, the D-train led by Kenny Clark got to Brady for a 3rd-down sack.
After Aaron Rodgers was sacked for the second time in the game, he found Allen Lazard for a big third down conversion.
From midfield, Aaron Rodgers found a speedy Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 50-yard touchdown. The Packers tied the game up at 7-7.
But Tom Brady and the Buccaneers went right back at it. Three plays into the drive, Brady heaved up a deep pass to Chris Godwin, who leaped over a reaching Darnell Savage for an incredible 52-yard catch.
On the next play, Leonard Fournette ran it 20-yards into the house to take the lead back by seven.
With the Packers needing a response, they starting cooking. A 15-play, 75-yard drive put them in position to tie the game up, but the drive ended in a disappointing 23-yard field goal from Mason Crosby. 14-10 Bucs lead.
With five minutes left, Tom Brady was able to push the Buccaneers near midfield. But a big third down stop gave the Packers a chance to take the lead heading into the half.
The Packers looked like they were going to make noise, but Rodgers threw an interception near midfield to give the Buccaneers a chance to add to their lead. Tom Brady promptly found Scotty Miller in the end zone for a 39-yard score on the final play of the half.
At halftime, Aaron Rodgers was 14/19 with 169 yards and one touchdown. He also had one interception late in the first half. Davante Adams had three catches for 24 yards. Marquez Valdes Scantling had two catches for 62 yards and a 50-yard touchdown.
The Packers got the ball back looking to cut into the deficit. A short third-down throw to Aaron Jones looked to convert the third-down. A big hit from Jordan Whitehead knocked the ball our of Jones’ arms. The Buccaneers recovered on the Packer 8-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Brady found Cameron Brate wide open in the end zone for an 8-yard score. Buccaneers take a 28-10 lead. It’s the largest deficit for the Packers since week six against the Buccaneers.
From there, Aaron Rodgers went to work. After converting an early 3rd down conversion, Rodgers found Robert Tonyan in the end zone for his 2nd touchdown throw of the game. That cut the deficit to 28-17.
Needing a big play from the other side of the ball, Adrian Amos delivered. On a deep throw intended for Mike Evans, Amos intercepted an overthrow from Tom Brady.
The momentum was on the Packers side, and they took advantage. The running game duo of Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon carried the ball for 23 yards. In the red zone, Rodgers found his favorite target Davante Adams for their 2nd connection of the postseason. That brought them closer, with the score 28-23 after the two-point conversion failed.
Entering the 4th quarter trailing 28-23, the Buccaneers were close to adding onto their lead. Another overthrow from Brady falls into the hands of Jaire Alexander.
But the Packers can’t do anything with it. Rodgers gets brought down for the fourth time of the game. They punt after a three and out.
On the Buccaneers next drive, a deep shot to Mike Evans was underthrown and intercepted again by Jaire Alexander.
The Packers were again unable to capitalize, punting the ball back to the Buccaneers on a three and out.
The defense made a key stop on the Buccaneers, giving Rodgers a chance to tie it.
5 plays and 58 yards later, the packers found themselves on the 8-yard line with a chance to tie the game. Three incompletions force them to settle for a field goal.
With 2:09 left and all three timeouts in hand, the Packers needed a stop to have a chance to win the game.
A crucial third down stop is turned over by a pass interference called on Kevin King. The Buccaneers would run the clock down to seal the Packers fate.
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