Packers suffer more NFC title game heartbreak in loss to Bucs

Green Bay Packers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t meant to be. The Green Bay Packers put themselves in position to take command of the game, but every time they fell just short.

Ultimately, it led to a five-point defeat to the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who add another heartbreaking playoff exit to the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era.

After a hard-fought, back-and-forth opening two quarters, the Packers made three costly errors to give themselves a mountain to climb.

Down by four in the final couple of minutes of the first half, the Packers had possession. A chance to take the lead or narrow the gap to a point. At worst, they could drain the clock and get to the half knowing they’d receive the second-half kickoff.

But Rodgers threw a costly interception. Green Bay looked to have avoided disaster, but Tom Brady did Tom Brady things, finding Scotty Miller for a 39-yard touchdown to close out the half.

Now trailing by 11, Aaron Jones fumbled at the start of the third quarter, allowing Brady to find Cameron Brate for a touchdown on the very next play.

Down by 18, the game felt up. But credit to the Packers, they fought hard.

Rodgers marched his offense down the field before hitting Robert Tonyan for a touchdown. Adrian Amos intercepted Brady, and Rodgers then capped off a 13-play drive by finding Davante Adams to make it 28-23.

Game on.

The cameras caught Rodgers asking his defense for a stop. They answered with two Jaire Alexander interceptions.

But the offense ran out of steam. Both takeovers allowed them to go down the field and take the lead, but the offense stalled with consecutive three-and-outs.

We can talk about Matt LaFleur’s decision to kick a field goal in the closing moments rather than going for it on fourth-an-goal. We can talk about the officials perhaps being inconsistent.

But the fact is, despite all of that, the Packers had many opportunities to take control of this game. On both sides of the ball, they fell short when they needed to make a play.