SportsPulse: The Packers and Bills punched their tickets to championship weekend. Mackenzie Salmon reacts to the NFL’s Saturday divisional round action.
In what is widely expected to be Drew Brees’ career finale, the 13-time Pro Bowl Saints quarterback threw three interceptions.
An opportunistic Tampa Bay defense totaled four takeaways Sunday night as the Buccaneers outlasted New Orleans 30-20 at the Superdome in an NFL divisional playoff game. The turnovers overshadowed what was expected to be a display of passer acumen between future Hall of Famers Brees and Tom Brady.
“The defense was the key to the game the way they played,” Brady said on Fox. “Got the turnovers we needed.” 
Tampa’s defensive prowess continues the Bucs’ pursuit to become the first team in NFL history to compete in a home-stadium Super Bowl. An NFC championship showdown at Green Bay next Sunday is the lone win that stands in their way.
Brees finished 19-of-34 for 134 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
It wasn’t Brees, but backup Jameis Winston who found the end zone first against Tampa. Credit Saints coach Sean Payton’s latest gadget play for scheming Winston against his former team, Winston entering the game with 8:17 to play in the second quarter as Saints running back Alvin Kamara fielded a direct snap. Kamara then pitched it to a streaking Emmanuel Sanders, who shoveled the ball to Winston.
The Bucs defense swarmed Kamara as Winston sailed a 56-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Tre’Quan Smith to regain the Saints’ lead against Winston’s former team.
Smith, activated from injured reserve with an ankle injury, caught both of the Saints’ touchdowns.
Low key, I could watch this forever. What a brilliant play call by Sean Payton.
Amie Just (@Amie_Just) January 18, 2021
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Brees’ game didn’t dupe the Bucs defense nearly as effectively. Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting unleashed the flow when he nabbed a second-quarter Brees pass to Saints receiver Michael Thomas, Murphy-Bunting stiff-arming Thomas and returning the theft 36 yards to the 3. Brady found receiver Mike Evans for a score one snap later.
The Bucs’ second touchdown would also arrive via a turnover-shortened field, Bucs rookie safety Antoine Winfield knocking loose a Jared Cook catch that linebacker Devin White recovered and returned 18 yards. This time, Brady and Co. needed five plays to traverse the remaining 40 yards.
White also intercepted a Brees pass to seal the win. The Bucs scored 21 points off turnovers. 
Brady finished 18-of-33 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. His 32nd career postseason win advances him to a conference championship for the 14th time in 20 seasons, though first in Tampa. Brady focused instead on what the win mean to the Bucs, advancing further than the franchise had since the 2002 season.
“We worked hard to get to this point,” Brady said. “Two road playoff wins is pretty sweet. We’ve got to go beat a great football team, one we know pretty well. Aaron (Rodgers) is playing incredible and we’re going to have to play great to beat him.”
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