Way back in the forgotten time of Week 6, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Green Bay Packers.
Thanks to an offensive explosion in the first month of the season in which Green Bay won all four games and hadn't scored less than 30 points, the Packers were considered to be the favorite -- and were promptly blown out by the upstart Bucs. The win was Tampa Bay's largest feather in its cap to date, and one Bucs fans have relied on when comparing Tampa Bay with the likes of the NFL's other contenders.
It's time to put that feather to the test. Green Bay hosts Tampa Bay hosts this weekend in the NFC Championship Game, and while the Bucs will feel confident because of their 38-10 win over Green Bay in Week 6, the Packers are leaving that nightmare in the past.
"I think our team has come a long way from that day, but everything's just words at this point," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday, via The Associated Press. "You've got to go out there and you've got to have a great week of preparation and you've got to go earn it on the field. So that'll be our mindset and that's how we'll approach it."
The early season result was a stunner just because of how lopsided it turned out to be. After taking a 10-0 lead, the Packers gave up 38 unanswered points. Aaron Rodgers had an incredibly uncharacteristic outing, completing just 16 of 35 passes for 160 yards, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a passer rating of 35.4.
Rodgers will likely win the league's Most Valuable Player award for his exploits this season, only further underscoring the unlikelihood of this result. Since that defeat, the Packers have only lost twice, scoring 22 points or more in every contest to finish the regular season.
Against the league's No. 1 defense in the Divisional Round, Green Bay put up 32 in a 14-point win over the Rams. Statistical rankings don't seem to matter much against this group.
"We're not too worried on who's on the other side of the ball," Packers receiver Allen Lazard said Saturday. "We know who we have on our side of the ball."
Chief among those on Green Bay's side of the ball is Rodgers, who owns a 48-5 TD-INT ratio while working in harmony with LaFleur. The two have the Packers back in the conference title game for a second time in as many seasons, and instead of facing a ground-dominant boogeyman like 2019's San Francisco 49ers, they'll meet a Buccaneers team that has come on strong in the last six weeks and is feeling good about itself.
The positive news for the Packers: They're feeling pretty good about themselves at this point, too. Week 6 was a long time ago.
"What's happened in the past at this point, it really doesn't matter," LaFleur said. "It's about what we do moving forward."
Directly in front of them is a chance to earn a trip to Super Bowl LV, set to be played in -- of all places -- Tampa. Green Bay can silence the cannons from 1,300-plus miles away this weekend