LIVE BLOG: Packers fall to Buccaneers in NFC Championship 31-26
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The stakes are high at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon as the Green Bay Packers (14-3) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-5) battle for the NFC Championship title and a trip to the Super Bowl.
This game will mark just the second time the Packers and the Buccaneers have met in the postseason. Previously, the teams met during the 1997 Divisional Playoff round, and the Packers won at home, 21-7.
As Action 2 News has reported, Sunday’s game will be a rematch from a previous game during the regular season. The Packers traveled after their bye week to Tampa, where they lost 38-10.
The Packers all time, regular season record against the Buccaneers is 32-22-1. Meanwhile, the all—time at home record is 19-7, with a 16-5 record at Lambeau Field.
Sunday will be the 57th overall meeting between the former NFC Central rivals, including the postseason.
In addition, this will be the fourth time that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady have faced off as starting quarterbacks.
Currently, Brady’s teams are 201 in those matchups.
As Action 2 News reported earlier this week, the Pro Football Writers of America chose Rodgers as the PFWA MVP, the third time he earned the honor.
Rodgers and other teammates sounded off this past week on the death of former Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Thompson died Wednesday at the age of 68 at his Texas home.
Rodgers was Thompson’s first ever draft pick, and Thompson also drafted other players who are still on the team. Those teammates include Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, who are all first team All-Pro players.
Fans and players are using the hashtag #WinItForTed to inspire the Packers as they play for another Super Bowl title this season.
The Packers also elevated cornerback Tramon Williams from the Practice Squad to the active roster as a COVID-19 replacement Saturday. Williams rejoined the Packers this past week after he was let go by the Baltimore Ravens after they were defeated in the playoffs this season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Packers announced which players will be inactive for the NFC Championship game. Those players are:
- QB Jordan Love
- CB Ka’dar Hollman
- S Vernon Scott
- CB Josh Jackson
- LB Jonathan Garvin
- TE Jace Sternberger
- DL Kingsley Keke
Both Williams and cornerback Kevin King are active for the game.
Meanwhile, the Bucs announced they will be without:
S Antoine Winfield Jr.
QB Ryan Griffin
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn
WR Antonio Brown
TE Antony Auclair
DL Khalil Davis
DL Jeremiah Ledbetter
They also announced the elevation of S Javon Jagan and OL Ted Larsen.
The excitement of the possible Super Bowl appearance by the Packers even had Manitowoc Minute host Charlie Berens join the Action 2 News Sports team for a guest appearance on the Cover 2: Road 2 Tampa playoff special, which aired Friday evening.
Since the 1970 FL-NFL merger, the Packers have played in the NFC title game nine times. This is the second consecutive year the Packers have played in the title game, both under the direction of head coach Matt LeFleur.
Last year, the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 37-20. In 2016, the team lost to the Atlanta Falcons 44-21. Both the 2019 and 2016 games were away.
The Buccaneers are coached by Bruce Arians, who is in his second season as the Buccaneers’ 12th head coach. He previously spent five seasons as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (2013-2017) and was an interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts for 12 games during the 2012 season.
All 6,500 tickets available for Sunday’s game were sold earlier this week, with team officials saying the tickets were gone in about 40 minutes.
Similar to the divisional round game, there will be COVID-19 protocols in place, which include mask wearing and spacing between seats.
Anyone who is attending the game is asked to be respectful of the stadium’s current rules or risk being thrown out.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on FOX, and temperatures are expected to be around 30, with a brisk wind at times out of the west. Snow fell in the Green Bay area overnight and into the morning, and a few flurries may stick around for the start of the game.
CLICK HERE for the latest forecast from the First Alert Weather Team.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling the game, while Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi will report from the sidelines.
The Packers won the coin toss at the start of the game, and deferred.
The Buccaneers scored on their first drive of the game, and made it a 7-0 game after a 15-yard pass from Brady to Mike Evans.
In a rare instance, the Packers failed to score on their opening drive of the game.
However, the Packers got on the board in the second quarter to tie it up after a 50-yard-pass from Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The Buccaneers then scored another touchdown later in the quarter to take the lead again, 14-7. This time, Leonard Fournette ran for 20 yards into the end zone.
The Packers then scored on a 24-yard-field goal from Mason Crosby to make it 14-10.
Linebacker Krys Barnes walked off the field on his own power late in the second quarter.
The Patriots were unable to convert any points before the two minute warning.
Although Rodgers connected with Lazard during the final two minutes of the half for a 23 yard gain to get them to their own 40 yard line, Rodgers was sacked on the following play for a loss of seven yards.
On the next play of the drive, Rodgers threw an interception while targeting Lazard.
With a short field to work with, Brady and company had about 30 seconds to work with before the half. Brady was nearly picked off when he lobbed a deep pass.
After converting on a 4th down attempt, the Bucs scored a touchdown after throwing a deep 39-yard pass to Scott Miller, and the extra point attempt made it 21-10 as the half ended.
Green Bay will receive to open the second half.
During the Packers first drive, Rodgers threw one short pass as well as an incomplete pass. On his third attempt, he connected with Aaron Jones, who then fumbled the ball. It was then recovered by Tampa Bay.
Jones was also injured on the play.
The Packers later announced he had a chest injury, and was questionable to return.
The Buccaneers scored on their first play of the drive and made it a 28-10 game. Brady and Brate connected on a short pass.
The official attendance, included “invited guests”, was announced as 8,578.
In the middle of the third quarter, Rodgers and tight end Robert Tonyan connected for a touchdown, and Crosby’s kick made it 28-17.
Packers player Tyler Lancaster went down in the 3rd quarter.
Brady was picked off shortly after by Adrian Amos after throwing to Mike Evans.
In addition, Whitehead was ruled out for the Buccaneers, leaving Rodgers to play against two backup players.
Meanwhile, Lancaster was carted to the locker room.
A penalty was called in the 3rd quarter on Tampa.
The Packers announced Lancaster was questionable to return to the game.
Another penalty was called on Tampa late in the 3rd, which was lowering the head to initiate contact, bringing the Packers to Tampa’s 5 yard line.
A few plays later, Rodgers and Adams connected in the end zone, making it 28-23.
A two point conversion failed with 24 seconds left in the third.
On the following kick, the Bucs were able to return it for 43 yards.
One play later, the 3rd quarter ended.
While threatening to score at the beginning of the 4th, Brady was picked off by Jaire Alexander while throwing to Evans. Alexander ran it to Green Bay’s 19 yard line for a return of 16 yards.
The Packers were unable to make any points out of the turnover, and Rodgers was sacked for a loss of 10 yards, resulting a punt.
While on the first third down attempt, Brady again threw to Evans and was intercepted by Alexander.
Rodgers was sacked on the first play.
Yet again, the Packers weren’t able to convert any points on the turnover.
Linebacker Krys Barnes was also ruled questionable to return due to a thumb injury.
Brady and Gronkowski connected for a 29-yard pass in the 4th
An incomplete pass on 3rd down caused Tampa to attempt a 46-yard field goal attempt, which was successful. That made it a 31-23 game.
Rodgers and MVS connected on a 29-yard pass to put them Tampa’s 28 yard line.
Despite being in the red zone, the Packers were unable to make a touchdown on that same drive.
Crosby ended up converting on a 26-yard field goal to make it 31-26 with 2:05 left in the game.
Although the Bucs were on a third down, a penalty on Kevin King for defensive pass interference caused a first down with 1:46 to go in the game.
A booth review came in at 1:34 regarding if the Packers defense had 12 men on the field.
The Action 2 News Sports Team will be tweeting throughout the game. Check back for updates.
As always, you can catch highlights and postgame reaction on Sunday Sports Night Cover 2.
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