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Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off with Super Bowl berth on the line

Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Jackson, left, breaks up a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller on Oct. 18 in Tampa, Fla. (AP file photo)

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

For as much as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have accomplished in their Hall of Fame-caliber careers, they’ve rarely faced off on the field.

Never have they met with so much at stake.

When Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers (14-3) host Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-5) in the NFC championship game Sunday, it will be just the fourth time they’ve squared off as starting quarterbacks, and first in the playoffs.

The Packers' Aaron Rodgers reacts after a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb during a game against the New York Giants in Green Bay, Wis. on Jan. 8, 2017. (AP file photo)

“I remember when I heard the news about him coming to the NFC, I thought this was a real possibility,” Rodgers said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to play against him one more time.”

The Bucs trounced the Packers 38-10 in Tampa on Oct. 18. They met two other times during Brady’s tenure in New England, with the Packers winning 26-21 at Green Bay in 2014 and the Patriots winning 31-17 in Foxborough four years later.

Both understand all eyes will be on them Sunday.

Brady, 43, has helped the Bucs earn a franchise-record seven straight road wins. A win at Lambeau Field clinches their first Super Bowl berth since their 2002 championship season.

Brady is trying to join Kurt

Warner, Peyton Manning and Craig Morton as the only quarterbacks to lead two separate franchises to a Super Bowl. He already won six Super Bowls and played in nine total with the Patriots.

Green Bay is making its fourth NFC championship game appearance in the past seven seasons, but Rodgers hasn’t reached a Super Bowl since leading the Packers to a title in the 2010 season. Warner said the postseason weighs heavily on where players stack up in history.

This may be the best remaining chance for the 37-year-old Rodgers at that elusive second Super Bowl berth.

“It’s been a while since he was last a world champion,” CBS Sports analyst and 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon said. “I think that would certainly cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game in my opinion. Not that he needs it, but I’m just telling you that’s probably how he’s wired.”

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