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Inbox: This felt like it was supposed to be it

The disappointment is intense

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QB Aaron Rodgers

T from Waterloo, IA

Is anyone else tired of losing NFC Championship games, or is it just me?

This one definitely feels different than the last two, that's for sure.

Ricardo from Ventura, CA

This one hurts more. 2016 and last year we were up against a buzz saw and clearly inferior. But this year, like 2014, we were legit, and it's a missed opportunity. It's such a sick feeling.

True statement.

Todd from Brighton, MI

This one really hurts. A lot. But anyone that watches the interviews (Aaron Rodgers, ML, Adrian Amos), will understand that is their life in many ways and the weight they, and especially ML feel.

The disappointment is intense. The players, coaches, fans, and everyone associated with the organization feels it after a loss like that. There's never been a lack of accountability from the principals around here, and that certainly came through in LaFleur's postgame remarks. This one's going to hurt everyone involved for a while.

Joe from Parkland County, Alberta

Sorry Mike and Wes, I feel for you. While I was originally upset, neither team deserved to win that game. TB for turning over three times, or GB only getting six points off them. What frustrated me the most was that after 57 minutes of the refs going unnoticed the game came down to a call against the defense. Both defenses were mugging receivers all day and never called, but this one was. It's too bad. On to the offseason. Thanks for all you do and best of luck with the chaos.

No need to feel sorry for me. The flag at the end was almost predictable, simply because they hadn't called anything all game and you knew they would eventually. Marv Levy's old line about the "over-officious jerk" comes to mind. The spirit of that game dictated you let it go because it was by no means egregious, even though Johnson made it look so. Based on when the official threw the flag, it's as though he bought the dive, because the actual grab was earlier. Rodgers should have gotten one more shot. But he also had three fourth-quarter shots needing a touchdown and didn't get it done. The Packers had every opportunity to make the game not come down to a stupid flag.

Gary from Davenport, IA

If Kevin King had held on by the shoulder pads instead of the shirt tail, would that have been a penalty?

I admire the sense of humor, but it's also a valid question. Stretched shirt tails are easier to see, obviously. The missed call at the end of the first half was possibly a 10- or 14-point swing.

Warren from Lutz, FL

Brady had a 73 passer rating with three interceptions. The Bucs had less the 80 yards rushing and we won time of possession. Somebody please tell me how we lost? Still love the Packers.

The list of reasons is long and lamentable. At the top are the two touchdowns on either side of halftime, one an inexcusable defensive mistake and the other just as inexcusable an offensive one. Sometimes the mountain you make for yourself is just too difficult to climb, even though they almost did.

John from Mercer, PA

The Packers deferred and somehow the Bucs ended up doubling up at the half. That's as much the reason for yet another NFC Championship loss as anything.

Exactly.

Sven from Limburg, Germany

Dear Insiders, tough loss and a hard pill to swallow. Do you think kicking the field goal and not going for it will impact the relationship between Matt and Aaron in a negative way? Aaron wanted the shot, Matt the kick and the defense to stop them. It didn't play out, although the stop was there until the flag came in. What's your thoughts on this?

Based on what they've built, it's not going to harm their relationship. I think LaFleur made it pretty clear postgame that he regrets a lot of decisions Sunday, even if he regrets others more than that one. That's probably the one Rodgers regrets the most, though, and I don't blame him.

Steve from Edmonds, WA

Mourning, all week I heard the Packers would not abandon the run. First-and-goal from the 6 in first quarter. Pass pass pass. FG. First-and-goal from 8 in fourth quarter. Four-down territory. Or so I thought. Pass pass pass. FG. Last two picks, plenty of time. Pass pass pass. Why? Love the game-day blog and II.

What you heard from me all week is the Bucs' No. 1 rush defense would test the Packers' commitment to the run like nothing else this season, and they failed to stay committed. LaFleur was really kicking himself afterward for getting away from it. His words were pretty plain in that regard. You don't have to gash them with the run to set up play-action. They just have to respect it. But it becomes a drop-back game, not a play-action one, if you bail on the run. He had the same regrets in Week 6.

Vince from Auburn, WA

I understand the logic of Coach LaFleur kicking the FG at the end, but I also understand the questions that he'll take for not giving AR one more shot on fourth down. As a passionate fan, however, I was surprised that he didn't go for it considering his aggressive mindset all season to get the Packers to this point.

Very fair point.

Gregg from Springfield, IL

Hi Spoff. Another NFC Championship, another loss. This appears to be Rodgers' legacy. With the uncertainty of next year, this feels like a major gut punch.

I don't want this to be his legacy, and I don't think that would be fair, but he may have a hard time escaping it now. Of them all, this was the one that was more in his hands than any other, when you look at the opportunities. There's no getting around that.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Would you say the most telling statistic of the game is the 14 points off two turnovers for the Bucs compared to seven points off three turnovers for the Packers?

Actually six points, and yes.

John from Bozeman, MT

It's hard for me to pick one disappointing moment as the worst. But if pressed, it would be Kevin King getting beat right before half for the TD. Six seconds left. I guess everybody in the world knew Brady had to go to the end zone. Everybody but King. Very sorry affair. This one will take a while for the team and staff to get over.

Yes, it will, and I said in the live blog at the time, that play at the end of the first half felt like the Hail Mary by the Giants nine years ago. Only this wasn't some random, lucky play. It was just a meltdown on so many levels.

Dan from Wausau, WI

Two thoughts and a question. Have to call defensive holding on the Rodgers pick. Inexcusable and a big impact. King is gone and picking him over T.J. Watt continues to haunt. Question is does Rodgers score if he runs? Looks like no to me.

No, he doesn't score. He would have had to risk his body in a serious way to try for the goal line. The question I asked myself afterward was, say he gets halfway, to the 4-yard line … does LaFleur go for it then? We'll never know. The other thing you lose by kicking the field goal is the field position, too.

Matthias from San Antonio, TX

I'm so tired of the "greatness" of Tom Brady. Rodgers outplayed him by near 30 quarterback rating (points) and we still lost!

Stats are for losers in do-or-die games. Only wins matter at this stage.

Lambeau Field hosted the NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

As Monty Python says, "Always look on the bright side of life." Every team that has beaten the Packers in the NFC Championship Game has gone on to lose the Super Bowl (except 1995).

I know anything can happen, but I don't see the Chiefs losing.

Susan from Santa Cruz, CA

Not what I expected. Watching Aaron's press conference highlighted the difference between being a fan and being a professional. Although I'm crushed, my life tomorrow will be more or less the same as today. On the other hand, several guys on the team are in limbo. We want them all to stay, but that isn't realistic. I thought this was our time.

So did I. For the last six years, ever since Seattle, I've had faith Rodgers and this team would get back to a Super Bowl. I've really believed that. I'll be honest, it's hard for me to have that faith today. I hope I can find it again. This felt like it was supposed to be it.

Sammo from Tulsa, OK

With Aaron Rodgers postgame interview, he said he was uncertain that he might be back. And everything he has accomplished the past two years and being a game away from the Super Bowl, do you think he might look for a new team or just talk after a crushing loss?

LaFleur was unequivocal in wanting him back. That's what I'm going with right now. I can't fathom turning over the keys to a draft pick who wasn't even the No. 2 as a rookie, got no preseason action, and never suited up on game day.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Maybe there is some recency bias here, but this one really hurts. Even with the miscues, they fought back and came oh-so-close to completing a monumental comeback. But what hurts the most is seeing a roster full of players that were so likeable come agonizingly short of this sport's pinnacle. It's for them that I feel the worst.

How can you not? I've been around this long enough to never underestimate the physical sacrifices it takes to succeed at this game. It's what makes the game so great and so heartbreaking.

Derek from Hermantown, MN

The more and more I watch the highlights the more and more this game reminds me of the 2014 NFC Championship against Seattle. So many little opportunities missed that could have changed the game. But the one that is not being talked about is the dropped "can of corn" INT by Will Redmond two plays before the TD before halftime. That keeps the score at 14-10 killing the Tampa momentum. We talk a lot about a game of inches. I say more a game of little opportunities, missed or capitalizing on.

You're absolutely right about the Redmond play. That would have made everything feel very different at halftime and, presumably, the start of the third quarter as well when the mistakes started to compound.

Jake from Franklin, WI

On a more positive note, Jaire Alexander absolutely looks like the real deal. Do you think he can be one of the best corners in franchise history?

No doubt.

Will from Breckenridge, CO

It feels like we lost that game much more than Tampa won that game. What a letdown. Davante Adams was right when he said the only one that can stop us is ourselves.

It certainly played out that way.

Jake from Athens, GA

Hell of a game. I don't care what the Packers could've done better. I'm just here to say, it was a hell of a game.

It was a crazy one in a lot of ways. Wild games provide so much to look back on, there's no pinpointing one moment. You can't. You can rank them in terms of importance, but it's a lot to process. I think I would have been much more entertained by it without a horse in the race.

Melissa from Germantown, WI

Where do we go next? I am heartbroken.

You're not alone. What now is a popular question this morning. We process this ending for a few days and live for a while with different priorities, I hope. We'll all move on and come back when we're ready. The Packers will be here.

Cheryl from Marathon, WI

While I'd like to think it's not the case, I'll bet the questions and comments you've walked into are mainly gloom and doom. Personally, I'm thankful we were able to make it through a fun season while in the middle of a pandemic. Yes, it stings. But I still love this team. Always.

There's a healthy mix of everything. Your perspective is meaningful. I don't know if I've provided any today. My brain is still numb.

Ivan from Dublin, Ireland

While it's gut-wrenching as a fan to see the team fall at the final hurdle, I don't believe I've seen teams or interviews with the players/coaches with such a palpable sense of hurt and dismay. While it's no substitute, all we can do is thank them for their efforts and for the season that it was and for giving us something to root for to cheer and to know that we share the journey.

It's not a happy Monday, but it's a Monday we know all too well.

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