tom brady tampa bay buccaneers

At long last, this is your week, Bucs fans

TAMPA, Fla. – Tom Brady and the Bucs are in the NFC championship game.

Does it really matter that it’s in ice-cold Green Bay against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers?

I’ll give you a hint: It doesn’t.

Brady and the Bucs have done it. They are one win, a single victory, from what was once unthinkable: the first home team to host its very own Super Bowl.

The Bucs retired Drew Brees on Sunday in New Orleans, along with the Saints, who helped gift-wrap the 30-20 win. Anything seems very possible right now for Bruce Arians’ ball club. They have the template even: just enough GOAT, pound the rock, high-energy, opportunistic defense.

It worked against the Saints, and how. Brady threw for 199 yards, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones Jr. grout out 130 yards combined, and Devin White led a defense that forced four turnovers, including three picks of Brees. In the end, in the second half, when it mattered, it was no contest, and it landed the Bucs in the fourth conference championship game in franchise history.

This is why Brady was brought here. This is why he is here, and it’s really happening. Don’t bother pinching yourself. The upcoming week belongs to a sea of Bucs fans who have mostly suffered since the team won the Super Bowl in 2002. There have been so many nightmare seasons.

This is the dreamscape. It’s what any town in America deserves after a year that was dominated by a pandemic. This is another shaft of light for Tampa Bay. Yes, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The Rays won the AL Pennant. But the Bucs a game from the Super Bowl, one to be held in Raymond James Stadium, this is another planet.

Don’t think of how, exactly, the Bucs will get past Green Bay.

Think of how far they’ve come.

This team has won six games in a row. It has sidestepped demons along the way, and that includes falling behind Sunday on a Saints touchdown throw by none other than Jameis Winston, who looked ready to begin haunting the Bucs for the next one hundred years.

Only he didn’t. There were no ghosts in New Orleans. There were only Bucs and more Bucs. There was only White, who was everywhere. There was only Brady, exactly where he needed to be, calm, cool, we got this, guys. There was young Antoine Winfield, stripping the ball and turning this game around just when New Orleans seemed set to put it away.

These Bucs would not be put away. These Bucs said to hell with that. They are not the 1979 Bucs or the 1999 Bucs or the world champion Bucs. They are the Bucs who gave themselves a puncher’s chance by bringing in Brady. And they are still punching.

Set your watch parties on stun, Tampa Bay.

Gather around. You deserve this Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

Could there be a taller order?

But isn’t this why they play these games?

Isn’t this exactly where you want the Bucs, with Brady under center.

This week belongs to you, folks. You’ve earned it.

Brady and these Bucs have too. The Bucs are back. Dream away this week, all week. Let yourself go, help it spread. Finally, a contagion we can love.

The Bucs are heading to Titletown, to the tundra, and hell has not frozen over. Brady did it. Arians did it. All of you did it too. It’s a Bucs town this week. We had forgotten what that could be like. You have to go back to the Bucs of Gruden, Brooks, Sapp, and Lynch.

We give you the Bucs of Brady. Where is Bill Belichick, anyway?

Brady and the Bucs are riding toward a new kind of history.

We’re all along for the ride.

Cold reality might await in Green Bay.

Until then, feel warm inside.

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