For the 14th time in his illustrious NFL career, Tom Brady sits one win away from the Super Bowl.
Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers advanced to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday with a 30-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Awaiting them is a marquee matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers next Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The winner of that game will move on to Super Bowl LV, where they’ll face either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Buffalo Bills. (A Super Bowl that, we should note, will be played at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.)
Speaking with reporters after Sunday’s victory, Brady offered some early thoughts on his impending showdown with Rodgers.
“I’m really proud of our team and everything we’ve put in to get to this point,” the 43-year-old quarterback said in a postgame video conference. “There’s only four teams left. We’re one of them. It’s tough to get to this point, so we need a great week of practice.
“We’ve got one of the best teams in the league (up next) obviously in Green Bay. They’re the top seed, and Aaron’s playing incredible. They’ve got a great defense, so it’s going to be a great matchup.”
The Buccaneers have not lost since late November, reeling off six consecutive wins after dropping five of their first 12 games. They won with defense Sunday, forcing four Saints turnovers (including three Drew Brees interceptions) to give their sputtering offense favorable field position.
Tampa Bay’s three touchdowns came on drives that began at the New Orleans 40-, 20- and 3-yard lines.
Brady, who signed with the Bucs last offseason after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, completed 18 of 33 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers in the divisional-round contest. He also scored a late rushing touchdown on a QB sneak to all but seal the win.
“I’m just so proud of everyone — the whole organization,” Brady said. “Our coaches have put in so much work and effort getting us to this point and preparing us every day. Just done an amazing job. Guys really come together. It’s a really unique team. We have great chemistry, we have fun at practice and we’ve worked really hard to get to this point, just like the other three teams remaining.
“It’s hard to get to this point — there’s nothing guaranteed from this point forward — but we’ve got to go up there and we’re going to have to play our very best to beat one of the best teams in the league.”
Brady-Rodgers will be one of the most compelling quarterback matchups in championship game history. Rodgers likely will earn NFL MVP honors after turning in arguably his best statistical campaign at age 37, but his Packers were blown out by Brady and the Bucs earlier this season, losing 38-10 in Tampa in Week 6.
Green Bay reached its second consecutive NFC title game by dispatching the Los Angeles Rams 32-18 on Saturday.