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Packers squander chances in NFC Championship Game loss

The Green Bay Packers had hoped to ride a wave of emotion following the death of former General Manager Ted Thompson this week into Super Bowl LV. Instead, they were doomed by their own mistakes both on the sidelines and on the field, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-26 Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was harassed all afternoon long by Tampa Bay's defense, getting sacked five times and facing constant pressure dialed up by Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Still, this is a game that will be remembered for costly missed opportunities.

Near the end of the first half, The Buccaneers shocked the Packers when Tom Brady exploited as out of position and flat-footed Kevin King for a 39-yard touchdown. Two plays earlier, on third-and-4, Will Redmond dropped an easy interception giving Tampa Bay new life. That proved costly, as the Bucs were able to take a 21-10 lead into halftime.

Tampa Bay's momentum rolled into the second half when Brady's play-action fate found tight end Cameron Brate wide open for another touchdown against safety Adrian Amos, making the score a seemingly-insurmountable 28-10.

Still, Green Bay wouldn't quit, mounting back-to-back scoring drives but also failing to capitalize on three consecutive Tampa Bay drives that ended in a Brady interception.

The game's final coaching controversy came late in the fourth quarter, when Packers coach Matt LaFleur opted to kick a field goal rather than go for a touchdown with 2:37 left on fourth-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 8-yard line, trailing by eight points.

From there, Tampa Bay was able to run the clock out after a pass interference call on King handed Tampa Bay a fresh set of downs with less than two minutes in the game made their final kneel-downs a mere formality.

In winning on Sunday, the Bucs become the first team ever to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium in two weeks.

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