News & Analysis

NFL NFC Championship PFF ReFocused: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Green Bay Packers 26

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass against Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith (91) during the first quarter in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field . Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swept the season series against the Green Bay Packers with a 31-26 win at Lambeau in the NFC championship game. Tom Brady is now headed to the Super Bowl for the 10th time in his career, only this time he'll be a representative of the NFC.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle. 

STORY OF THE GAME

It is ironic that Tampa Bay has gone on the road and won in all three games this postseason but will be heading home to host the Super Bowl. This can be attributed to an all-around team effort, with crucial stops from the Tampa Bay defense and the offense making plays when it mattered most.

The Buccaneers feasted on third down in the first quarter, with Brady hitting 6-of-8 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown en route to a 156.3 passer rating. The biggest play of the first half was a 39-yard touchdown pass to Scotty Miller with 1 second left in the half to give Tampa Bay a 21-10 halftime lead.

The receiving duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans combined for eight catches, 161 yards and four 15-plus-yard receptions. Leonard Fournette — “Playoff Lenny” — showed up again with a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Buccaneers a lead in the second quarter. Fournette’s four missed tackles forced on runs were more than the entire Packers team combined (one).

Aaron Rodgers played up to the standard he set for himself and was able to pick apart the Bucs secondary when given time in the pocket. The only problem was that Rodgers was put under pressure on 15 of his dropbacks and was brought down for a season-high five sacks. Against that pressure, Rodgers completed just 50% of his passes and posted a 60.4 passer rating. He posted an 83.4% adjusted completion percentage and a 112.4 passer rating when he was able to throw from a clean pocket.

Fresh off a dominating performance against Michael Thomas, Carlton Davis put up a lackluster performance against the Green Bay receivers. Davis gave up seven catches on nine targets for 105 yards and two scores. He allowed a 154.9 passer rating when targeted.

PFF’s highest-graded cornerback, Jaire Alexander, put up a heroic effort in the loss. He was targeted just four times in coverage and allowed zero catches with a forced incompletion and two interceptions. It did not go as well for fellow corner Kevin King, who gave up two touchdowns in the first half and allowed a 140.5 passer rating on throws into his coverage.

The duo of Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul terrorized Rodgers all game. Together they combined for all of Tampa Bay’s five sacks and 12 total pressures.

Rookie Watch

Tristan Wirfs has played a crucial part in Tampa Bay’s success this season, and he put on another solid performance today. Wirfs allowed just one hurry on 37 pass-blocking snaps against a vaunted Green Bay pass rush.

Tyler Johnson also had a solid day out for Tampa Bay. The rookie out of Minnesota had just one catch, but it was a spectacular diving catch that moved the chains. He was also the targeted receiver on a game-clinching pass interference call.

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