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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Veteran quarterback Tom Brady reaches 10th Super Bowl, beating Aaron Rodgers’s Green Bay Packers

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Tom Brady has won the battle of the Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks in the NFC Championship game, with the Buccaneers beating Green Bay 31-26 to progress to a home-field Super Bowl in Tampa Bay on February 7.

The veteran quarterback, who is in his first season with Tampa Bay since moving from New England in the off-season, was exceptional at Lambeau Field — particularly in the first half — throwing 20/36 for 280 yards and three touchdowns.

It was a vintage performance from the player who was synonymous with New England’s era of dominance with former mentor Bill Belichick.

If there had been any questions as to whether Brady could adapt to a new team and coach so late in his career, he emphatically answered them in the affirmative this season: Same old Brady, same old result — a Super Bowl berth.

“It’s been a long process for the whole team,” Brady said after the game.

“Today was just a great team effort. We played sporadically a little bit but the defence came up huge and we’re going to need it again in a couple of weeks.”

The defence earned Brady’s praise, repeatedly bailing out their highly vaunted leader in the second half, sacking Rodgers five times and interrupting the Packers’ offence after Brady threw three interceptions.

The Buccaneers have won all three playoff matches away from home but will be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

“[It’s] just great to get another road win and now we’ve got a home game. Who would ever [have] thought a home Super Bowl for us? But we did it,” Brady said.

The 43-year-old will now play in a record-extending tenth Super Bowl and will now have the chance to go for a seventh Super Bowl crown.

Tom Brady threw three touchdowns and three interceptions.(AP: Morry Gash)

Brady’s record in Championship games now moves to 10-4.

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said Brady gave his team the belief they needed to win.

“This trophy,” Arians said when asked what Brady bought to the team.

“The belief he gave everyone in this organisation that this could be done; it only took one man.”

Rodgers’s playoff woes continue

Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers’ poor record in Championship games continued as he fell to a fourth defeat in five appearances.


Rodgers had a good game off the back of another MVP-worthy season, throwing 38-48 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

However, he once again missed out on heading to the big dance after his side coughed up too many big third-down plays in the first half, leaving too much of a deficit to overcome in the second half.

“There are a lot of unknowns going into this offseason,” a disconsolate Rodgers said after the game.

“I’m going to have to take some time away for sure, clear my head. I’m just going to see what’s going on with everything.

“It’s a grind to get to this point and that makes the finality of it all — it kind of hits you like a tonne of bricks.

“That’s why it’s a gutting feeling in your stomach.”

Brady got the scoring underway with a 66-yard opening drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown to Mike Evans.

Both teams punted their next possessions before Rodgers connected with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 50-yard touchdown to level things at the end of the quarter.

Brady and the Buccaneers hit back with a four-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Leonard Fournette barging through some weak Packers’ tackling for a 20-yard touchdown reception, and held the Packers to a 24-yard field goal off their next drive.

From then, two quick strikes off the back of Green Bay turnovers either side of half-time looked to end the game as a contest.

A dejected NFL quarterback is followed by TV cameras as he trudges off the field after a loss.
Aaron Rodgers has now lost four NFC Championship games with Green Bay.(AP: Morry Gash)

After a rare Rodgers interception, Brady found Scott Miller for a 39-yard touchdown with seconds remaining in the half.

Then, at the beginning of the third quarter, the Buccaneers recovered a forced fumble off Aaron Jones before extending their lead with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate.

However, from that point the Packers defence started to rumble, intercepting Brady on his next three drives, while Rodgers twice moved down the field for touchdowns to Rob Tonyan and Davante Adams.

However, a terrible drop from Equanimeous St. Brown on the two-point conversion kept the Packers five points behind and stopped the recovery in its tracks.

Rodgers was sacked twice in the next two drives before 46-yard Ryan Succop field goal pushed the lead out to eight with under five minutes remaining.

Green Bay drove 58 yards on its next drive, but settled for a Mason Crosby field goal with little over two minutes remaining instead of going for it on fourth and goal, handing the ball, and the game, back to the Buccaneers.

Having accounted for fellow veterans Drew Brees (New Orleans) and Rodgers in successive weeks, Brady will now have to test himself against one of the rising stars of the game.

Kansas City beat Buffalo to reach second-straight Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes holds an American football in both hands and turns off his straight left leg as a Bills player pursues him
Patrick Mahomes lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl title last season.(AP: Jeff Roberson)

If the NFC Championship game featured a battle of two of the old-guard quarterbacks, the AFC was the opposite.

Patrick Mahomes, 25, and Josh Allen, 24, represent the new guard of quarterback; dynamic on the ground, fearless in contact and excellent passers to boot.

Buffalo, who arguably benefited most from Brady’s move away from New England to storm to the AFC East title, were looking to set up another meeting with their old adversary.

However, it was Mahomes (29/38 for 325 yards, three touchdowns) who was able to display the full range of his considerable talents to take the reigning champions back to the Super Bowl with a 38-24 victory.

Buffalo had a dream start at a raucous Arrowhead Stadium, scoring a field goal off the very first play before holding Mahomes to a three-and-out punt.

The Bills extended their lead when Mecole Hardman dropped a 48-yard punt, which Taiwan Jones recovered on the three-yard line. The Bills scored off the very next play but missed the extra point to give them a 9-0 lead.

However, that simply prompted Mahomes to go to work with his two favourite weapons, Tyreek Hill (172 receiving yards) and Travis Kelce (118 receiving yards, two touchdowns), at the fore.


Mahomes led drives of 80, 82 and 77 that all ended in touchdowns, 21 unanswered points before the half, with just a 20-yard field goal to punctuate the relentless flow of Kansas City points.

The Bills were limited to another field goal in their first drive after the break, only for Mahomes to march right back up the field to score a fourth touchdown to press the home side’s advantage.

Hill made a rollicking 71 yards off a short pass up the middle, before Kelce was pushed over from a yard after an audacious underarm serve from Mahomes.

Allen was well-contained by the Chiefs defence and, tellingly, could not find his favourite receiver, Steffan Diggs, who was limited to 77 receiving yards from six receptions after being targeted 11 times.

Josh Allen is tackled by a player wearing red
The Chiefs marshalled Josh Allen (17) expertly, severely limiting his impact.(AP: Jeff Roberson)

Allen started to use his feet more after the break, rushing for a team-high 88-yards in the game, but the Chiefs’ defence continued to limit his options down field and applied significant pressure with the blitz.

The Bills have not been to a Super Bowl since losing four in a row between 1990 and 1993, and this year many had been tipping Allen to take them back to the big time.

After throwing a fourth-quarter interception, which resulted in another touchdown for Kelce, it looked like the game had gone.

But a late touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie reduced the deficit, which the Bills followed up by recovering an onside kick.

However, after a small melee in a bad-tempered finale, the Bills were limited to a 51-yard field goal instead of the touchdown they so desperately needed.

Failure to secure a second onside kick ensured the Chiefs could run down the clock and extend the Bills’ Super Bowl drought for at least another year.

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- Advertisement -Tom Brady has won the battle of the Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks in the NFC Championship game, with the Buccaneers beating Green Bay 31-26 to progress to a home-field Super Bowl in Tampa Bay on February 7.

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