The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, 31 to 26, to advance to Super Bowl 55. Later Sunday night, the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs took home the AFC Championship with a 38 to 24 win over the Buffalo Bills, securing a spot in a second straight Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 55 is scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, making this the first time in Super Bowl history that one of the competing teams will be playing in their home stadium.
The last time a team competing for the NFL championship played in their home stadium was in 1966, when the Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field, one season before the start of the Super Bowl era.
Twice in Super Bowl history, California teams have played in the same city as their home field, but in a different venue. The Los Angeles Rams, who at the time called the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home, played at the Rose Bowl in Super Bowl 14. The San Francisco 49ers played at Stanford Stadium in Super Bowl 19, but their home games were played at Candlestick Park.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, who played with the New England Patriots for 20 seasons, led Tampa Bay to its first Super Bowl appearance since they won it in 2003. Until this season, that was Tampa Bay’s only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Brady will be appearing in his 10th Super Bowl, having already won six, both high marks for any player in NFL history.
The Buccaneers got off to a hot start on Sunday, taking a 21-10 lead into halftime. The offense sputtered in the second half, however, thanks in part to 3 interceptions thrown by Brady. But with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the game and facing a 4th down from their opponent’s 8 yard line, the Packers elected to kick a field goal rather than go for the touchdown, which would have put them a two point conversion away from a tie. They never got the ball back, as the Bucs offense got two more first downs on the ensuing possession.
“It’s been a great journey thus far,” Brady said after Sunday’s game. “We put the work in. Guys just embraced everything, really, when [head coach Bruce Arians] got here last year. There was a lot of great things that were happening, a lot of great young players. I just made a decision. I’ve loved coming to work every day with this group of guys.”
Brady will face off against Patrick Mahomes, who earned the title of Super Bowl MVP after leading the Chiefs to a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. The upcoming matchup will be the largest age gap between opposing quarterbacks in Super Bowl history, as Mahomes is 18 years, 1 month and 4 days younger than Brady.
The Chiefs faced an early 9-0 deficit in the AFC Championship after a muffed punt gave Buffalo the ball at the 3 yard line. The Bills, already up 3, scored a touchdown on the first play of the drive, but missed the extra point. After that, the Chiefs’ offense came to life, scoring 21 points in the second quarter while their defense held the Bills to just three points. The Bills wouldn’t score another touchdown until the 4:08 mark of the fourth quarter.
After an unsuccessful 2-point conversion, Buffalo found themselves down by 17. They managed to recover an onside kick, but the following possession only amounted to another field goal, cutting the lead to 14 with a little more than three minutes remaining in the game. The Chiefs then put together an eight-play drive, including three kneel downs, to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Super Bowl 55 is scheduled to be played on Sunday, February 7 and will air on CBS.