The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, 31-26. The Bucs overcame a horrid three-interception stretch in the second half to hold off the hard-charging Aaron Rodgers. So how did the Bucs do it? With a big first half, an excellent defensive performance, questionable decisions by the Packers, and a little help from the refs.
Overall, it was a very hands-off performance by Clete Blakeman's crew. There were only six total accepted penalties in the game. Two pretty obvious calls were ignored at a crucial moment in the second quarter that may have swung the momentum of the game. Tampa Bay ended up being called for two penalties resulting in eight penalty yards. Meanwhile, the Packers were whistled for four penalties accounting for 30 yards.
So it's not like officials were out to get the Packers, but when you couple this game with the teams' first meeting this season, that's when Green Bay fans will start to pull the cheese out of their heads.
The Buccaneers were called for two more penalties in the NFC Championship than they were in their Week 6 matchup. That's right, the Bucs played a perfect game in their 38-10 win over Green Bay during the regular season while the Packers were called for six penalties for 76 yards.
The Bucs had zero penalties accepted against them. It was just the second time that has happened in franchise history. It had been 37 years. Tom Brady was in kindergarten. No other player on the roster was alive.
Meanwhile, things went so poorly in that first game that SB Nation's Packers site, Acme Packing Co., wrote a post this week about how happy they were that Clete Blakeman's crew would have the whistle today. Here's how that story ends.
"There are officials that routinely have a material impact on the game. Blakeman generally isn’t one of them, and we can be pretty confident that regardless of the outcome on Sunday, the teams, and not the officials, will be the deciding factor."
What an incredible example of "How it started... How it's going."