There wasn’t much Tom Brady could do to cement his legacy as the GOAT in the NFC title game. But he did it anyway.
He not only won a conference title game for the 10th time – first in the NFC – he did it in the most improbable way while leading the Bucs to a victory over the Green Bay Packers.
He did it at 43 with a wild card team that had to win three road games and he did it with a new team in a COVID-19 year when he didn’t have an off season or a normal training camp with a new team.
And he did it while throwing three interceptions – on three consecutive second half drives – and that was the second time he won a conference title game with three picks. All he does is win.
He also had the advantage of the opposing team making bonehead mistakes as has happened so often in his career.
Remember the Seahawks on the one-yard line? And he twice has won playoff games while throwing what should have been a game ending pick against the Chargers in 2006 and two years ago against the Chiefs.
The Chargers Marlon McCree fumbled the ball away after making the 2006 interception and the Patriots came back to win.
And two years ago, Dee Ford jumped offsides to nullify the Chiefs pick and the Patriots again came back to win.
This time, coach Matt LeFleur of the Packers, made the head scratching decision to kick a field goal on fourth down from the eight-yard line with just over two minutes left.
That cut the deficit from eight to give points and the Packers never got the ball back. And Aaron Rodgers didn’t come up big just as he didn’t in the team’s 2014 NFC title loss to the Seahawks.
Rodgers had a first down on the eight and threw three incomplete passes before the field goal. On the third down, he probably could have run it in for a score.
And Rodgers got only six points off Brady’s three interceptions as the Packers abandoned the run and Rodgers didn’t hit the passes.
Brady can be beaten in the playoffs. He’s lost three Super Bowls and seven other playoff games. But you don’t beat him by making mistakes.
—The biggest loser in the playoffs was Rodgers, who still has only one Super Bowl win on his resume and said after the game he faces an uncertain future and there were reports he wants a contract extension despite having three years left on his contract. The Packers responded by saying he is still in their plans. But will he win another Super Bowl? Was this his last best chance? Stay tuned.
—The Kansas City-Buffalo game was overshadowed by the Bucs victory. As expected, the Bills were no match for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The only negative for the Chiefs is that they lost tackle Eric Fisher, which may make it more difficult for them to protest Mahomes against the Tampa Bay pass rush. The Green Bay loss means there won’t be a rematch of Super Bowl I but CBS loves the Brady-Mahomes matchup. It pits the GOAT against the quarterback who may be the best for the next decade. A Mahomes victory will give him two Super Bowl wins in his first four years, which is what Brady did back from 2000 to 2003. Both both sat out their first season so they won two in three years. It would also give him a shot at a threepeat, which Brady never did. And it would mean he would need four Super Bowl wins in the next dozen years or so to tie Brady’s record of six Super Bowl wins.
—It was a difficult loss for the Bills, who know they have to go through Mahomes if they expect to get to the Super Bowl any time soon. And Josh Allen wasn’t up to the challenge. And Buffalo coach Sean McDermott made a head scratching decision which has been a theme for losing coaches in the playoffs. He twice kicked field goals from fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard-line and fourth-and—3 from the eight yard line when they needed touchdowns. McDermott said he did it to help the team’s morale. It would have helped their morale if they had scored touchdowns in those two situations. The Bills lost 38-24 so they probably would have lost anyway but you play to win the game, not to help morale.