Bucs Win Battle of the Bay’s

Bucs Win Battle of the Bay’s
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

It’s the Battle of the Bay teams and Tampa came out on top.

For the third Playoff game in a row, the Bucs were on the road. As they headed to Title Town to take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Packers were number one seeds in the NFC and were favourites to take the NFC Championship. Tampa, having been written off since the start of the Post-Season, were no strangers to the underdog label.

The prize for both teams was a trip to the Super Bowl. But the Bucs had the added incentive of becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Much of the build-up centred around the future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. Will Aaron Rodgers finally get back to his second Super Bowl. Or will Tom Brady make it to his tenth Super Bowl? Tenth! Ridiculous.

Tampa were dealt a pre-match blow when it was announced that Rookie Safety Antoine Winfield Jr was ruled out. This after sustaining an ankle injury in practice on Friday

Tampa Bay make the perfect start

The first quarter couldn’t have gone any better for Tampa. Perfect on 3rd downs, the Bucs took an early lead as they scored on their opening drive. Tom Brady found Mike Evans in the end zone for the score.

Behind at home at the start of the second quarter, it didn’t take Rodgers long to level matters. He found Marques Valdes Scantling on a 50 yard touchdown pass.

Tampa answered the Packers in style as they moved 73 yards down the field on their next drive. Leonard Fournette juked and span his way into the end zone on a 20 yard run. And Green Bay had no answer to Tampa’s Offense.

With Tampa ahead 14-7, the Packers closed the deficit to four. Mason Crosby connected on a 24 yard field goal. Tampa held firm in the Redzone with Green Bay unable to convert from inside the Bucs 10 yard line.

Tampa were forced to punt but it wasn’t long before they were in dreamland. On the Packers next drive, Bucs Cornerback Sean Murphy Bunting got his third interception of the Playoffs by picking off Aaron Rodgers.

Tampa looked as if they had lost the momentum of the interception. The punt unit were sent out on a 4th and 4 at midfield with only 18 seconds remaining in the half. The Bucs called their second timeout and then sent back out the Offence.

A six yard conversion to Fournette quickly followed by a timeout left Tampa at the Packers 39 yard line. With 8 seconds remaining in the half. Bizarrely, the Packers Secondary refused to protect the deep ball. Scotty Miller ran straight past the Packers Defence for the unlikeliest of scores. Which sent the Bucs into the half up 21-10.

It just keeps getting better for the Bucs

If the Bucs couldn’t believe what happened at the end of the first half, it was away to get better at the start of the second half.

The Packers received the ball and set about closing the gap on the visitors. Three plays into the second half, the Bucs forced a fumble. Which was returned to the Packers eight yard line by Bucs Linebacker Devin White.

One play later and Tampa were up 28-10. Tom Brady finding Tight End Cameron Brate in the endzone as the Bucs threatened to run away with this game.

Green Bay were now in dire straits. Starting at their own 25 yard line, the Packers drove the length of the field. Rodgers connected with his Tight End, Robert Tonyan, for a touchdown to reduce the arrears to 11.

During the drive, Tampa suffered another blow to their Secondary, as starting Safety Jordan Whitehead was injured on a play. Whitehead was out the game and the Bucs were left with back-ups in both Safety positions.

Brady misfiring and Green Bay coming back

The Packers Defence were struggling to stop the Bucs. But on Tampa’s next drive, Brady made his first mistake of the game. And he was picked off on a 2nd and 10 by Green Bay Safety Adrian Amos.

Green Bay took full advantage of the turnover as they started to find their groove on Offence. Driving 60 yards down the field, Rodgers found Wide Receiver Davonte Adams in the end zone. Reducing the lead to five points.

The Packers went for the two point conversion to reduce the gap to a Field Goal. Bucs Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh got the merest of touches to Rodgers’ pass. Which was enough to distract Equanimous St.Brown as he dropped the pass.

With the lead down to five, the pressure was mounting on the Bucs. And for the second successive drive, it ended with an interception. In Field Goal range, Brady’s pass was just too high for Mike Evans. The Wide Receiver tipped the ball into the waiting hands of Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander.

Unlike the previous turnovers, the Bucs were able to stop the Packers Offence quickly. Green Bay were forced to punt the ball back to Tampa.

Incredibly, for the third successive drive, Brady threw another pick. He tossed it up under pressure from the Packers Defence. Jaire Alexander was again the recipient of Brady’s errant throw. And Green Bay had yet another chance to close the deficit.

A Crucial Kick

Just like the previous series, the Tampa Defence stood up to the test. Forcing a quick three and out. Green Bay yet again had to punt the ball back to the visitors with just over 8 minutes left in the game.

On their next drive, Tampa were more careful with the ball as they took it into Packers territory. Then Ryan Succup nailed a pressure kick from 46 yards. Giving the Bucs an eight point lead with less than five minutes remaining.

Down by one score, with the ball in Rodgers hands, the Packers needed a touchdown and two point conversion to tie the game. Green Bay wasted no time in getting inside the Tampa 10 yard line.

A big Coaching call in the Battle of the Bay teams

Three incompletions from the eight yard line, left the Packers on a 4th and goal. Down eight points with just over two minutes of the game left. Incredibly, much to the bemusement of everyone, Green Bay decided to go for the Field Goal. Attempting to reduce the arrears down to five points.

The Packers never got the ball back.

On a third down, the Packers were correctly penalised for Defensive Pass Interference giving the Bucs a first down. With only one timeout remaining, Green Bay could only watch the Bucs run down the clock. Sealing a famous victory and reach the Super Bowl for only the second time.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made NFL history by becoming the first team to play in a Super Bowl at home. But it’s going to be a long off-season for the Green Bay Packers. An off-season that will be dominated by the decision to go for the Field Goal. And take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands.

Image copyright – Buccaneers.com

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