The NFC Championship authored no shortage of game-changing plays – none bigger, perhaps, than Scotty Miller’s 39-yard touchdown reception with one second remaining in the first half.
Tampa Bay’s lead over Green Bay went from 14-10 to 21-10, and the tenor of the game turned on a dime.
“It was, ‘Let’s go for the throat,’” Bruce Arians said on The Zach Gelb Show, explaining Tampa’s Bay mindset in that moment. “We had a play called and they came out in their base defense. It was the perfect call. Byron Leftwich did a great job. He put a great call in, [there was] good protection and Tom made a great throw and Scotty went and got it. I was really surprised that they weren’t guarding the sidelines more.”
Two plays earlier, the Buccaneers faced 4th-and-4 at the Green Bay 45. Arians initially called for a punt but had a change of heart.
“I [said], ‘Let’s go for it,’” Arians recalled. “We got to get points out of this drive. It was a great interception [against Aaron Rodgers], and we need to get points out of it.”
While Arians was aggressive in big moments, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was not. Facing 4th-and-Goal from the 8-yard line with just over 2 minutes play, LaFleur elected to kick a field goal with the Packers trailing 31-23.
LaFleur was harshly criticized for that decision, but Arians didn’t see an issue with it.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I think Matt thought his defense would get that stop, and they had the 2-minute warning and all three timeouts. We were lucky enough to get a couple first downs and ice the game, but I don’t think it was that bad of a decision. . . . We had done a lot of good stuff [defensively] in that drive down there, and I think 4th-and-9 is really a tough call. I don’t disagree with him doing what he did.”
Mason Crosby’s 26-yarder cut the deficit to 31-26, but Aaron Rodgers didn’t touch the ball again. The Buccaneers got two first downs to end the game.
“We were playing to win,” Arians said. “We wanted them to use up their timeouts and definitely get that first down.”
The game, for all intents and purposes, ended on a defensive pass interference on 3rd-and-4 with less than two minutes to go. Packers cornerback Kevin King was flagged for the penalty while guarding Tyler Johnson.
“It was a good call,” Arians said. “The guy was holding his shirt, so it was huge.”