Tom Brady will play in his 10th Super Bowl after leading the Buccaneers to an incredible 31-26 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC championship game.
Brady wasn’t at his best — he threw three interceptions — but still completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards and three scores, which proved to be the ultimate difference in the game. His favorite target on the day was Chris Godwin, who caught five passes for 110 yards. Brady’s three touchdown recipients went to Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and Scotty Miller.
None of those touchdowns were more important, however, than the one that went to Miller; Brady hit him on fourth down, which also happened to be the Bucs’ final offensive play of the first half. The two connected after the Packers dropped a sure interception that otherwise would have given Green Bay possession before halftime.
The Packers will have lots of questions to answer regarding their play-calling, and that starts with coach Matt LaFleur. That first half-ending sequence will be among the questions he’s forced to answer, as will his decision to go for a 2-point conversion in the third quarter; an extra point would have made it 28-24, but the missed conversion made it 28-23. Following a Tampa Bay field goal in the fourth quarter, Green Bay was forced into a position where it had to score a touchdown and the conversion.
That might have affected LaFleur’s final questionable decision of the game; going for a field goal to make it 31-26 from fourth-and-goal on the 8. The Packers could have gone for the game-tying score but trusted their defense to make one final stop. It didn’t work out in their favor, and ultimately resulted in a Bucs win.
Rodgers’ final game of the season saw him complete 33 of 48 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. His favorite target on the day was Marques Valdes-Scantling, who caught four passes for 115 yards and a score. Green Bay had only 67 yards rushing as a team.
Sporting News tracked live scoring updates and highlights from Packers vs. Buccaneers. Below are the complete results from the 2021 NFC championship game:
Packers vs. Buccaneers score
Packers vs. Buccaneers live updates, highlights from NFC championship game
All times Eastern
Final: Buccaneers 31, Packers 26
6:17 p.m.: Final: Buccaneers 31, Packers 26.
6:18 p.m.: One final kneel brings this incredible NFC championship game to a close.
6:18 p.m.: Timeout, Tampa Bay (0:02)
6:17 p.m.: Brady tosses right to Godwin, who gets 7 yards, the first down and the win.
6:16 p.m.: Timeout, Tampa Bay (0:48)
6:16 p.m.: Fournette for a gain of 1; makes it third-and-5.
6:15 p.m.: Timeout, Green Bay (1:32)
6:15 p.m.: Fournette hit for a loss of 1 — to make it second-and-6.
6:14 p.m.: Green Bay is called for 12 men on the field, giving them their timeout back. That makes it first-and-5 instead of second-and-7.
6:11 p.m.: Fournette goes for 3 yards, making it second-and-7. The last play of consequence from this one.
6:10 p.m.: Mike Pereira on the Fox telecast says it’s a correct call while admitting that officials have swallowed their whistle on those kinds of plays all game.
6:09 p.m.: There was a VERY late call for pass interference, giving the Bucs a first down. That’s game.
6:08 p.m.: Timeout, Green Bay (1:46)
6:08 p.m.: Fournette for 4 yards, making it third-and-4 at the 37.
6:07 p.m.: Timeout, Green Bay (1:51)
6:07 p.m.: Fournette for 2 yards up the middle.
6:06 p.m.: Green Bay is called for encroachment. A smart play by the Packers, who likely assumed Tampa would get a first down on the second-and-1; saves them a timeout. Either way, first-and-goal from the 31.
6:04 p.m.: Two-minute warning (1:56)
6:03 p.m.: Bucs get 9 yards on the first-down play with a Brady-to-Evans connection. They’ll have it second-and-1 from their 26.
6:02 p.: Curious play on the kickoff there; Mickens slides down to the turf with 2:02 remaining on the clock, so that means the Bucs have to run a play before the two-minute warning goes into effect. Bucs take over at their 17.
6:01 p.m.: Field goal, Packers. Looks like Green Bay’s hoping to get one more stop out of its defense. There’s 2:05 left on the clock and Green Bay has three timeouts remaining. Either way, it’s 31-26 Bucs with 2:05 left.
6 p.m.: And now fourth-and-goal from the 8. White, by the way, looks to have gotten away with holding.
6 p.m.: Third-and-goal from the 8 upcoming.
5:59 p.m.: Packers probably want to score before the two-minute warning here. It’s at 2:22 at the moment.
5:58 p.m.: And now Rodgers finds Adams again for the first down-converting play. Officials call the latter out at the Tampa 8.
5:58 p.m.: Rodgers to Adams for 9 yards to make it third-and-1 from the 20. No doubt this is four-down territory.
5:56 p.m.: Rodgers finds Valdes-Scantling on a deep shot down to the Tampa 28. That’s a 29-yard gain.
5:55 p.m.: Adams gets a nice 30-yard return of his own on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Packers the ball at their 34.
5:53 p.m.: FIELD GOAL, BUCCANEERS. Ryan Succop drills the 46-yard field goal in cold weather to make it an eight-point game. It’s 31-23 Bucs with 4:42 left in the NFC championship.
5:52 p.m.: Bucs had a busted play, apparently, as Brady takes the snap and immediately throws it in the turf by Godwin’s feet. That brings on the field goal team.
5:51 p.m.: Brady misses Godwin in the flats, bringing up third-and-8 from the Green Bay 28.
5:50 p.m.: Rob Gronkowsk gets his first reception of the day on the tight end screen, and he goes 29 yards all the way down to the Packers 30.
5:49 p.m.: Brady finds Godwin for a first down out to the 42.
5:45 p.m.: Scott’s punt goes for 51 yards this time, but Mickens only gets 3 yards on the return out to the Tampa 28. There’s only 8:20 remaining in the game with the Bucs leading 28-23.
5:44 p.m.: The Bucs defense again holds strong, forcing a three-and-out after the pick. Could Murphy-Bunting have been called for holding? Maybe, but it’s apparent the officials are letting the players play.’
5:43 p.m.: And right on cue, there’s Barrett with his third sack of the day and Tampa Bay’s fifth overall. That brings it to second-and-11 Packers from their own 23.
5:41 p.m.: Interception, Buccaneers. Savage blitzes from the edge and forces Brady to react with an absolute duck. Evans was his target, but he didn’t even know the ball was thrown; that allows Alexander to get his second interception in as many drives as he brings it in at the Green Bay 24.
5:41 p.m.: Bucs face third-and-2 from the 46.
5:38 p.m.: Scott’s punt goes for 55 yards; Mickens gets a 9-yard return but is brought down at the Tampa 38 after a 7-yard return.
5:36 p.m.: Barrett gets his second sack of the day, bringing Rodgers down for a loss of 10. The Bucs D, with their fourth overall sack, negates any damage the Packers could have done. That brings on the punt team on fourth-and-15.
5:36 p.m.: Green Bay is now facing third-and-5 after a 5-yard pass to Williams.
5:35 p.m.: A Bucs defender hits Rodgers’ arm on his pass, forcing him to throw a duck; lucky for the Packers, the pass falls harmlessly to the turf.
5:31 p.m.: Interception, Buccaneers. Another Brady pass bounces off Evans’ hands — Brady overthrew him — and into the hands of a Packers defender. This time it’s safety Jaire Alexander, who returns it 16 yards to the Green Bay 19. What a game this is turning out to be.
5:30 p.m.: Bucs catch Green Bay with too many on the field, giving Tampa Bay a free 5 yards. LaFleur was trying to get a timeout but couldn’t. Either way, Tampa has a fresh set of downs at Green Bay’s 27.
5:29 p.m.: Barnes again leaves the field with some undisclosed injury.
5:28 p.m.: Brady connects with the rookie Tyler Johnson on third-and-8. That gives the Bucs a fresh set of downs at the Packers 37.
5:27 p.m.: Brady again goes deep and looks to have Evans in perfect position — until he drops it. King again was in coverage, and that might not be the last time he’s targeted.
End of third quarter: Buccaneers 28, Packers 23
5:24 p.m.: Ronald Jones goes for 2 yards to the 47, and that will end the third quarter. Just one left.
5:23 p.m.: Another nice return by Mickens, who gives Tampa great field position at its own 45.
5:19 p.m.: Oof. Rodgers hit St. Brown right in the numbers, but he dropped it (to be fair, it looks as if the pass was tipped slightly). Regardless, the Packers close the gap to make it 28-23 Bucs with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
5:19 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, PACKERS. Again, no matter. Rodgers finds Adams on the slant — and it looks like the Packers are going for the 2-point conversion.
5:18 p.m.: Packers facing third-and-goal from maybe the 2 now. Are they considering this four-down territory?
5:16 p.m.: Rodgers connects with Adams, who falls 2 yards shy of the first down at the 3. Davis, however, is called for a personal foul for initiating contact with his helmet. That gives Green Bay a first-and-goal just inside the 3.
5:14 p.m.: No fourth down necessary. Rodgers connects with Williams out of the backfield for an 11-yard gain to the Bucs’ 13.
5:14 p.m.: Packers facing third-and-2 from the Tampa 24. Could be four-down territory considering the score and where they are on the field.
5:12 p.m.: Packers get a 7-yard gain and first down off the play-action pass to Tonyan, but it looks like Rodgers initially wanted to go deep. Nice hands by the tight end, regardless.
5:11 p.m.: Rodgers finds rookie running back AJ Dillon for an 13-yard gain in the flats. Green Bay is driving at the Tampa 44.
5:10 p.m.: Whitehead is out of the game and heading back to the locker room. That leaves Tampa without its two starting safeties; not great against Rodgers.
5:08 p.m.: Green Bay gets a free 5 yards after Ndamukong Suh is called offside. Rodgers’ deep pass to Dominique Dafney falls incomplete, and the officials pick up a flag in the secondary.
5:05 p.m.: Interception, Bucs. Safety Adrian Amos gets the Packers’ first takeaway of the game by intercepting Brady. That gives Green Bay the ball at its own 32. Things are looking up for the Packers, but they still have a ways to go.
5:04 p.m.: Another stoppage in play as Packers defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster is being tended to on the field.
5:01 p.m.: Bucs to take over at their 24 after a short return; Green Bay needs a stop here about as badly as it needed a touchdown on its previous possession.
4:57 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, PACKERS. On the ensuing play, Rodgers finds Tonyan in the zone for the 8-yard score. That makes it 28-17 Bucs with 9:28 left in the third quarter. If the Packers can force a stop and get another score, they’ll be right back in this game.
4:57 p.m.: There’s some vintage Rodgers; he eludes the pressure in the pocket, looks to scramble and then finds Lazard for a 16-yard gain to the 8.
4:56 p.m.: Equanimeous St. Brown gets his first pass of the day for a 10-yard gain to the Tampa 24.
4:55 p.m.: The Fox telecast says Jones is questionable to return with what has been diagnosed as a chest injury. That’s a big hit to the Packers’ run game; they can’t afford to get one-dimensional, even if it’s Rodgers throwing the ball.
4:54 p.m.: Rodgers then finds Valdes-Scantling on the right sideline for a 24-yard gain to the Tampa 34.
4:53 p.m.: Rodgers gets 10 yards and a first down to Adams on the slant. The drive continues at the 42.
4:52 p.m.: Packers get the ball back and are already facing third-and-3 after two runs. Green Bay needs a score here.
4:49 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, BUCCANEERS. Brady immediately makes the Packers pay with an 8-yard touchdown to a wide-open Cameron Brate in the end zone. That makes it 28-10 Bucs with 13:54 left in the third quarter.
4:46 p.m.: Fumble, Packers. Disaster for the Packers, just three plays into the second half. Safety Jordan Whitehead forces a fumble on Jones short of the first down marker, and it’s recovered by linebacker Devin White. He returns it 21 yards to the Packers 8. Moreover, Jones is down on the turf getting looked at by trainers.
Halftime: Buccaneers 21, Packers 10
4:30 p.m.: Halftime stats:
Total yards — Tampa Bay 235; Green Bay 189
Passing — Tampa Bay 13 of 22, 197 yards, 2 TDs; Green Bay 14 of 19, 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing — Tampa Bay 10 rushes for 38 yards (3.8 ypc), 1 TD; Green Bay 9 rushes for 42 yards (4.7 ypc)
First downs — Tampa Bay 10; Green Bay 10
Third downs — Tampa Bay 7 of 10 (1 of 1 fourth down); Green Bay 4 of 6
Penalties — N/A
Turnovers — Tampa Bay 0; Green Bay 1
Time of possession — Tampa Bay 13:44; Green Bay 16:16
4:29 p.m.: The half ends on the ensuing kickoff. Don’t think Green Bay could have managed those final two minutes any worse.
4:27 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, BUCCANEERS. Incredible sequence there for the Buccaneers; Scotty Miller somehow gets behind Kevin King — who gave up the first touchdown of the day to Evans — and Brady finds him for the 39-yard touchdown. Green Bay only had a single deep safety over the middle and King had no help to speak of. That makes it 21-10 Tampa Bay with just one second remaining before halftime.
4:26 p.m.: Timeout, Tampa Bay (0:06)
4:25 p.m.: Brady finds Fournette for a 5-yard gain to the 39-yard line, converting on fourth down.
4:24 p.m.: Timeout, Green Bay (0:13)
4:24 p.m.: Looks like Tampa’s going to try and go for it on fourth-and-3. There’s only 13 seconds left so there’s little to worry about if Green Bay forces a turnover.
4:24 p.m.: Timeout, Tampa Bay (0:13)
4:23 p.m.: Safety Will Redmond nearly gets his own pick for the Packers, but it regardless brings up fourth-and-3 Bucs from the Green Bay 45.
4:21 p.m.: Interception, Packers. Bucs corner Sean Murphy-Bunting gets the pick on tight coverage of Lazard (he might have gotten away with a hold). That’s his third interception in as many postseason games, and it gives Tampa the ball at its 49 with 25 seconds and all three timeouts with which to work.
4:20 p.m.: Pierre-Paul gets Tampa’s third sack of the day — and his second — making it second-and 17 Green Bay from its 33. Absolutely no urgency by the Packers there and now they’re behind the sticks. Awful sequence there for them.
4:19 p.m.: Great protection by the Packers O-line gives Rodgers enough time to find Lazard in the middle of the field out to the 40-yard line. The clock is ticking down with fewer than 40 seconds.
4:18 p.m.: Packers to Jones for 4 yards, brings up third-and-6 from the 17.
4:15 p.m: Two-minute warning
4:15 p.m.: Jones to the right for no gain; second-and-10 upcoming.
4:13 p.m.: Bucs can’t get another third-down conversion; Brady misses his receiver on third-and-9. Green Bay has the ball at its 13 with 2:10 left in the half. Two-minute drill coming up.
4:11 p.m.: Green Bay sells out against the run and Godwin — who fakes a block — slips out of the backfield. Brady hits him wide open for a 19-yard gain to the Green Bay 48. Excellent play call and even better execution.
4:11 p.m.: Third-and-2 for Tampa.
4:10 p.m.: Play is stopped briefly as Green Bay linebacker Krys Barnes exits the field following an 7-yard gain by Fournette on the screen.
4:09 p.m.: Bucs take over at their 25 following the touchback.
4:06 p.m.: FIELD GOAL, GREEN BAY. The Packers settle for a 24-yard field goal from Mason Crosby. That makes it 14-10 Bucs with 5:02 left in the half.
4:05 p.m.: He targets Adams for a third straight time in the Post, but the receiver brings it in out of bounds. Rodgers also missed Lazard, who was open after losing his defender in coverage.
4:04 p.m.: Rodgers has Adams again in the flat but his pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage. Third-and-goal from the 6 upcoming.
4:04 p.m.: Rodgers got the exact look he wanted with Adams in one-on-one coverage with Davis, but he throws it a little behind him and Adams can’t bring it in. Second-and-goal coming up.
4:02 p.m.: Timeout, Green Bay (5:13)
4:01 p.m.: Packers convert third-and-2 from the 10 with a powerful dive up the middle from Jones. They’ll have first-and-goal from the 6.
4 p.m.: Crisis averted for Green Bay on that play; Rodgers throws a quick pass to Jones, who fumbles beyond the first-down marker. Tonyan, who set up his gain with a pretty nice block, jumps on it quickly to retain possession at the 18.
3:58 p.m.: Two plays later, Jones gets a 12-yard gain on the toss right for another first down to the Bucs’ 30.
3:57 p.m.: There’s a nice gain on the toss left to Williams. He gets 12 yards to the Tampa Bay 47; this drive started with him being forced to take the kickoff out of the end zone.
3:55 p.m.: Rodgers to Valdes-Scantling for 12 yards out to the 37.
3:55 p.m.: Rodgers is forced into his first incompletion of the day (he was 7 of 7 prior) to avoid a pass-rush by Barrett.
3:54 p.m.: The call is reversed, giving Green Bay the ball at its 25.
3:52 p.m.: Packers coach Matt LaFleur throws a challenge flag. It looks as if the kickoff did hit the goal line, which would result in a touchback. That’s a difference of about 12 yards, which isn’t negligible.
3:51 p.m.: Jamaal Williams is forced to take the ball out since Tampa Bay’s kickoff doesn’t go into the end zone; he’s tackled after a short gain out to the 13-yard line.
3:49 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, BUCCANEERS. One play later, Fournette makes two Packers defenders miss with some powerful running — and nifty — for a 20-yard touchdown. That makes it 14-7 Buccaneers with 12:24 left in the half.
3:45 p.m.: On the very next play, Brady throws a jump ball to Godwin on the deep route. Packers safety Darnell Savage looked to be in the best position to bring the ball down, but Godwin jumps him for an incredible 52-yard gain to the 20.
3:45 p.m.: Godwin drops the slant route from Brady. That drop — Tampa Bay’s third of the half — brings up third-and-9 from the 28.
3:43 p.m.: Bucs take over at their 27.
3:40 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, PACKERS. One play later, Rodgers finds Marquez Valdes-Scantling for the 50-yard score. It looks as if the Bucs sold out for a short-yardage play, leaving the receiver one-on-one with Davis. He got a step on him and, despite the ball being underthrown, shrugged off the defense and did the rest of the work himself. That makes it 7-7 with 14:07 left in the half.
3:39 p.m.: Aaron Jones gets a 2-yard gain on the first play of the second quarter; that makes it third-and-2 from midfield.
End of first quarter: Buccaneers 7, Packers 0
3:35 p.m.: Rodgers’ 5-yard pass to tight end Robert Tonyan ends the first quarter. Packers will reverse field at their 48.
3:35 p.m.: Next play, Rodgers throws a quick pass to Davante Adams, who makes Carlton Davis miss for a 15-yard gain to the Packers 43.
3:33 p.m.: No matter; on the next play, Rodgers rolls out right — from inside his own end zone — and finds Allen Lazard for a 23-yard gain to the 28.
3:33 p.m.: Bucs get their second sack on Rodgers, this time for a 6-yard loss. Jason Pierre-Paul gets to him and makes it third-and-15 from the 5.
3:30 p.m.: Tavon Austin calls for a fair catch at the 10-yard line. Green Bay will start its drive with 2:56 left in the first.
3:30 p.m.: Finally, Green Bay gets off the field on third down. Kenny Clark gets the bull-rush sack on Brady to make it fourth-and-16 from the Bucs 43.
3:28 p.m.: Brady had his man in coverage but threw it a little high; Tyler Johnson couldn’t bring it down, however, and that brings up third-and-10.
3:26 p.m.: Bucs convert another third down — this time with 14 yards to gain — as Godwin takes the tunnel screen all the way to the Bucs 49. Tampa Bay is 5 for 5 on third downs so far.
3:24 p.m.: Bucs have it third-and-1 from the 36; that’s another conversion, this time off a 2-yard run by running back Ronald Jones.
3:20 p.m.: JK Scott’s punt travels only 38 yards and is touched down at the 27. The Bucs will look to go up two scores from there, with 7:33 left in the first.
3:20 p.m.: Packers have no such luck on third down; linebacker Shaq Barrett gets a coverage sack to fourth-and-17 from the 45.
3:19 p.m.: Packers face third down for the first time from their 43.
3:17 p.m.: Rodgers completes his first pass of the game to Marcedes Lewis for 14 yards and a first down out to the 42.
3:16 p.m.: Now it’s Rodgers and Co.’s turn. The Packers take over from their 25.
3:13 p.m.: That touchdown drive took nine plays, traversed 66 yards and took off 4:01 off the clock. Brady was 3 for 5 passing for 56 on the drive, including 3 for 3 on third down.
3:12 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, BUCCANEERS. Brady completes his third straight pass on third down, this one for a touchdown. He has a 15-yard connection with Evans to get on the board first. It’s 7-0 Bucs with 10:59 left in the first.
3:11 p.m.: Bucs have it third-and-7 from the 15 this time. Third time’s the charm for Green Bay?
3:10 p.m.: Brady completes his second third down-converting pass, this one 14 yards to Chris Godwin to the 18. Packers don’t have an answer for him yet.
3:09 p.m.: Another third down scenario, this one with 9 yards to gain from the Packers 32.
3:08 p.m.: Brady connects with Mike Evans with a beautiful over-the-shoulder throw for a 27-yard gain down to the Packers 33. The drive continues.
3:07 p.m.: Bucs face third-and-4 from the 40 after two runs of 3 yards apiece from Leonard Fournette.
3:06 p.m.: Jaydon Mickens gets a 29-yard return out to the 34. That’s where the Bucs will start the game.
3:03 p.m.: Green Bay wins the toss and defers, giving Brady and Co. the ball first. Here we go.
Packers vs. Buccaneers start time
- Start time: 3:05 p.m. ET
- TV channel (national): Fox
- Live stream: Fox Sports Go | fuboTV
This is the first of Sunday’s two conference championship games. The NFC championship will be followed by Chiefs vs. Bills in the AFC championship. The winner of those two games will advance to Super Bowl 55.
NFL playoff schedule 2021
Sunday, Jan. 24
|Matchup||Start time||TV channel||Live stream|
|Buccaneers at Packers||3:05 p.m. ET||Fox||fuboTV|
|Bills at Chiefs||6:40 p.m. ET||CBS||fuboTV|
Super Bowl 55
Sunday, Feb. 7
|Matchup||Start time||TV channel||Live stream|
|AFC champion vs. Buccaneers||6:30 p.m. ET||CBS||fuboTV|