Chance for Brady to make history with Tampa Bay

LOS ANGELES • Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team in National Football League (NFL) history to reach a home-turf Super Bowl on Sunday with a 31-26 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The 43-year-old Brady advanced to a record 10th Super Bowl appearance as a late Packers fightback stalled in a thrilling National Football Conference championship game.

He threw for three touchdowns and 280 yards as Green Bay were left ruing a decision to go for a late field goal instead of a possible game-tying touchdown in the closing stages.

"For me, I don't think about what it means," said Brady, who left the New England Patriots last March after two decades. "I do think about what it means for everyone else."

The Buccaneers will face Kansas City in the Feb 7 Super Bowl after Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs past the Buffalo Bills 38-24 in the American Football Conference decider.

Brady will be trying to earn more than just his seventh Lombardi Trophy at Raymond James Stadium: He will be trying to become his own dynasty.

He is one victory from proving his ability to win titles is not tied to a single franchise or a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach in Bill Belichick. He could become only the second starting quarterback after Peyton Manning to lead different franchises to a Super Bowl title.

"It's hard to envision this as a goal, but at the same time, it's a week-to-week league," he said.

Brady has turned Tampa - a professional football wasteland for decades - into the undisputed sports capital of the US today.

The city in western Florida is home to the reigning Stanley Cup champions Lightning and baseball's American League champions Rays, and is a win away from filling the streets of Ybor City with confetti.

Brady turned New England, who had never won a Super Bowl, from a mediocre franchise when he arrived in 2000 into six-time champions worth US$4.4 billion (S$5.8 billion), second in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys (US$5.7 billion), when he left, according to Forbes. Now, he has taken a Buccaneers franchise that had gone 267-424-1 for a 38.7 per cent win rate - the worst among North American pro sports teams - in the 44 seasons before he arrived to just their second Super Bowl, and first since winning it in 2003.

Since then, the Buccaneers did not win a play-off game - until their saviour arrived.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2021, with the headline 'Chance for Brady to make history with Tampa Bay'. Subscribe