Tom Brady will be playing in his 14th conference championship as his Bucs beat the Saints, 30-20 Sunday night in New Orleans.
Tampa Bay was led by its defense, which forced four turnovers and the Bucs were able to take full advantage with 21 points off those turnovers.
“Yeah, the defense was incredible all game,” Brady told reporters after the game. “The turnovers were huge. The last time we played them we lost the turnover (battle) minus-three. Today was plus-four. You’re not going to lose any games when you’re plus-four. It was a great effort. They came up huge.”
The quarterback finished 18-of-33 passing for 199 yards with two touchdowns to go along with a 1-yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans had beaten the Bucs in both matchups this season prior to Sunday.
“It’s a long way from the last time we played these guys at home and certainly we started the season here,” Brady said. “It’s a lot better feeling sitting in this tent this time around than the first time I was sitting here about, 18 weeks ago.”
He added: “It feels great to obviously beat a great football team. That’s what feels best. It’s a team effort and it speaks to the commitment level of everybody in the organization, and the coaches, the players, and everyone coming together. You don’t beat great teams like this -- they do a lot of things the right way. I knew for us, going into this week, we had to play a great game.”
Now, Brady and the Bucs will travel to Green Bay for the NFC title game where temperatures are expected to be in the upper 20s with snow potentially being in the forecast.
“You’ve just got to have some mental toughness and wear some warm clothes and be ready to go,” Brady said. “It’s chilly, man. That’s January football in the Northeast, Midwest. We’ll be prepared. The team that plays the best is going to win. Not the team that is the coldest. We’re going to have to go out there and play well. We’re going to be challenged and it’s going to be a great game.”