- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

When Aaron Rodgers saw that Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, the Green Bay Packers quarterback figured a showdown with the 43-year-old would eventually come. And though the Buccaneers were on the Packers’ regular-season schedule, that’s not quite what Rodgers had in mind. 

Rodgers said he imagined facing Brady with a shot at the Super Bowl on the line.

“I thought this was a real possibility,” Rodgers told reporters.

Rodgers’ prediction came true as the Packers and the Buccaneers face off in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field. The meeting marks just the fourth time that Rodgers and Brady will have gone head-to-head as the two spent most of their careers in opposite conferences.  

But unquestionably, the two are among the greatest quarterbacks of their generation. Brady, of course, has won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, while Rodgers also won it all with the Packers to cap the 2010 season. Brady, interestingly enough, is 2-1 all-time against Rodgers.

Here’s a look back at the previous Rodgers-Brady showdowns:

Nov. 30, 2014; Packers 26, Patriots 21: The first meeting between the two quarterbacks was highly anticipated — and for good reason. In 2010, the Patriots entered Lambeau Field with a 9-2 record, while the Packers were 8-3. 

The game didn’t disappoint. Rodgers and Brady both were spectacular with Rodgers leading the show with 368 yards and two touchdowns. Those two scores came with flashy 32-yard and 45-yard bombs to Richard Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. The Packers jumped out to an early lead, but the Patriots made things interesting when they cut the score to 23-21 in the fourth quarter. 

But Rodgers responded with a drive that set up Mason Crosby’s game-sealing, 28-yard field goal. Brady got the chance to have a game-winning drive, but the Packers’ defense made a stand. 

“I just wish we would have won this one,” Brady said. “We put a lot into this one, and this as a great test for us. I think the guys knew how important this was for our season.”

⦁ Nov. 4, 2018: Patriots 31, Packers 17: This matchup generated plenty of buzz with NBC airing it in prime time on “Sunday Night Football.”  Could Brady get his revenge for what happened four years earlier? 

Yes, it turned out. 

The game was another contest that came down to the fourth quarter. The Patriots took a 24-17 lead with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from James White with 10 minutes left — but Brady put the game away with a 55-yard touchdown to receiver Josh Gordon.  Playing at Gillette Stadium, Brady completed 22 of his 35 passes for 294 yards. Rodgers, meanwhile, wasn’t as dominant as the first meeting: He went 24 of 43 for 259 yards with two touchdowns. 

“He’s been the gold standard at quarterback for two decades,” Rodgers said.

⦁ Oct. 18, 2020: Buccaneers 38, Packers 10: The rubber match turned out to be a bit anti-climatic — but it didn’t appear that way at first.

Rodgers and the Packers jumped out to a 10-0 lead, only for the Buccaneers to pile on points afterward. Tampa Bay scored 28 points in the second quarter alone as Green Bay fell apart.

Rodgers threw a pick-six to Jamel Dean to first get Tampa Bay on the board, and then the Buccaneers seized on the momentum with three first-half touchdowns. 

Neither quarterback had a particularly flashy performance. Brady went 17 of 27 for 166 yards with two touchdowns, while Rodgers went 16 of 35 for 160 yards with two interceptions. 

This week, Rodgers said he wasn’t fazed by the one-sided affair from October. 

“‘I’ll give that (loss) as much credence as (the Buccaneers) gave that 38-3 game, which obviously meant nothing to them when they went and beat the Saints on Sunday,” Rodgers said, referencing Tampa Bay going 0-2 against the Saints in the regular season before beating them in the playoffs.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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