Buccaneers' Shaq Barrett 'Couldn't Believe' Packers Kicked Late FG Down 8 Points

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Shaquil Barrett (58) celebrates with teammate Jason Pierre-Paul after sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

The reaction of Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Shaquil Barrett was about the same as everybody else after Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur called for the kicking team on 4th-and-goal with just over two minutes remaining in the NFC Championship Game.  

"I couldn't believe it," Barrett told reporters. "I know if they could take that back, they probably wouldn't do that next time."

Hindsight is always 20/20, and coaches are often criticized for the result when the process and decision-making to get there were sound.

Even in the moment, settling for three points while down eight was a puzzling choice. Not to mention, LaFleur was counting on his defense to stop Tom Brady in the final minutes of a postseason clash. Brady threw three interceptions Sunday, but he was far too experienced to make a critical mistake that deep into the fourth quarter.

Given how the contest was officiated, the Packers can be upset with the pass interference call that effectively sealed Tampa Bay's 31-26 win. While it was a clear penalty, the referees had let similar indiscretions go earlier.

Still, it was a mess LaFleur largely created for himself by allowing the Buccaneers to be in a position to ice the game.

Aaron Rodgers was diplomatic when discussing the situation after the game:

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Many fans will read between the lines in the coming days and weeks.

In a vacuum, winning 13 games and reaching a conference championship should be considered a success. Instead, Mason Crosby's 26-yard field goal will be the lasting image of the 2020 season for a lot of people in Green Bay, and it will partially symbolize the Packers' inability to get back to a second Super Bowl with Rodgers at the helm.