Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are heading to the NFC Championship.
Tampa Bay earned a 30-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Brady threw for two touchdowns and sneaked in another, but the 43-year-old quarterback knew where the game was really decided.
“It was huge. I think the defense was the key to the game,” Brady told FOX Sports’ Erin Andrews on the postgame broadcast. “And the way they played, we went up against a really good defense, they challenged us. I thought their defense played really well, but our defense really balled out, got the turnovers we needed and it ended up being a great win for us.”
The Buccaneers intercepted Saints quarterback Drew Brees three times and forced four total turnovers. Tampa Bay scored 17 points off the first three turnovers, with the fourth coming with just over four minutes remaining and essentially win the Bucs the game.
New Orleans tallied just 294 yards of offense, including a mere 104 rushing yards. Brees’ age showed in his 19-of-34 completed pass attempts for 134 yards with a touchdown. Standout running back Alvin Kamara tallied 105 yards of offense — 85 rushing on 18 carries.
Brady and the Buccaneers had lost twice earlier this season to the Saints, who scored 34 and 38 points, respectively, in those two games.
“Turnovers were a big part of it, we talked about that,” Brady told Andrews of the team’s pregame focus. “Really just locking in, playing a lot better than the first two times we played them. So, we had a bunch of turnovers the last time and this time they turned it over. That’s usually the story of football games.”
The fifth-seeded Buccaneers will travel to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers in the NFC Championship game Sunday.