By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Tom Brady took the field for the NFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon.
He showed up ready to go.
The greatest quarterback of all time looked the part in the opening drive for Tampa, throwing three perfect passes to convert three third downs. The last one was a perfectly passed floater to Mike Evans in the end zone, giving the Bucs a 7-0 lead in chilly Green Bay.
The first conversion came on a third-and-4, after two runs by Leonard Fournette. Brady stood tall in a comfortable pocket and perfectly dropped in a deep lob for Evans, who ran a fade up the left side of the field. Evans hauled it in, and the Bucs avoided having to punt in the opening moments of the game.
That throw was perfect.
Two plays later, the Bucs faced a third-and-9. Chris Godwin ran a 10-yard out, and as soon as he made his break, Brady put a pass right on the money.
The pitch and catch was complete for a gain of 14 yards and a new set of downs.
And two plays after the Godwin completion, Brady was once again perfect, this time delivering a pass to Evans in the end zone. With Kevin King in coverage, Brady's pass floated just over the outstreched arm of the defensive back and into the waiting hands of Evans.
That's quite the start.
Brady was 3-for-5 (Fournette dropped two passes) for 56 yards and the touchdown on the opening drive.
The Packers would answer with a touchdown drive early in the second quarter, but the Bucs came right back with another score. That touchdown drive had much less to do with Brady, though, as it featured Godwin making a bobbling catch on a jump ball for a gain of 52 yards, followed by Fournette turning in an incredible individual effort for a 20-yard touchdown run.
And just before halftime, with the Bucs taking one more shot before the final seconds ticked off the clock, Brady threw up a deep shot to Scotty Miller. It was good for six.
Brady headed to halftime having completed 13 of his 22 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Buccaneers held a 21-10 lead.
It only got worse for Green Bay -- and better for the Bucs -- after that, as Aaron Jones fumbled on the Packers' opening drive of the second half.
One play later ... well, you knew what Brady was going to do:
Brady was 14-for-23 for 210 yards and three touchdowns at that point.
The party kind of ended there for Brady, as he threw three interceptions on Tampa's next three drives. It was ugly.
Brady was just 7-for-14 for 78 yards with one touchdown and the three picks in the second half. But the Bucs' defense stepped up in a big way in limiting the damage to just one touchdown off the three picks.
And with the game on the line, Brady threw to Tyler Johnson on a third-and-4 with 1:46 left in the game and the Bucs leading by five. The throw was incomplete, but Kevin King had grabbed a hold of Johnson's shirt, drawing a penalty flag. From there, the Bucs ran for one more first down and Brady was able to kneel out the final seconds of the game.
For Brady, this one started perfectly and took a turn for the worse after halftime, but it ended the way it does more than not: with a victory.
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