When we last saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints play, the latter coasted to a 35-point win and staged a controversial postgame dance party. The music and dancing stopped abruptly on Sunday as the Buccaneers are headed to the NFC Championship Game after defeating the Saints 30-20 in the NFC Divisional Round.
In a battle featuring two future first ballot Hall of Famers, the Tampa Bay defense stole the show. Tampa forced four Saints turnovers – including three interceptions of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Linebacker Devin White snagged two of those picks in his return after missing the last two games due to being on the team’s COVID-19 list.
Sunday’s performance was a dramatic turnaround for the Bucs, who committed six turnovers in two losses to their NFC South foe this season. They played a turnover-free game while forcing the Saints into careless errors.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady had an underwhelming first 30 minutes but rallied in the second half to capitalize off of a mistake-filled Saints offense. He finished with 199 yards and threw two touchdown passes while running for another, which gave the Bucs an insurmountable two-score lead.
The Bucs victory sends them to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2002 season. It will mark Brady’s 14th appearance in a conference championship game.
As for the Saints, the story will not be as rosy. FOX’s Jay Glazer reported that Brees will likely retire after this season. By evidence of Brees’s exit off the field and Brady’s postgame visit with the legendary Saints quarterback and his family, it appears the end is here for the Super Bowl XLIV MVP.
Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers, and a potentially snowy Lambeau Field await for the Bucs. Meanwhile, uncertainty lies ahead for Sean Payton and the Saints. As for Brees a spot with NBC as a football analyst looms on the horizon.
Categories: Tampa Bay Buccaneers