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AP photo by Morry Gash / After spending his first 20 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and leading them to nine Super Bowls and six title wins, quarterback Tom Brady's first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has him going for another championship.

It was one of those unexpected moments that revealed in one or two seconds so much about Tom Brady's outrageous professional football success the past two decades.

And it did not take place during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' NFC title game battle with Green Bay on the Packers' iconic Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, though Brady did much atop that storied grass to lead the visitors to a 31-26 victory and a spot in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida.

As Fox Sports' Tom Rinaldi was understandably focusing a good amount of his postgame interview window on Brady, the 43-year-old quarterback stopped the reporter short and said, "Let's get some other people up here."

That is far from the only reason the former New England Patriots star is taking the Bucs along for the ride on his 10th Super Bowl appearance and first with Tampa Bay.

Teamwork and unselfishness are great, as is deflecting praise to others. But those three touchdowns Brady tossed against the Pack also had much to do with this win, especially the second one, a 39-yard thing of beauty to possession receiver Scotty Miller. It came on a play Brady lobbied for with but eight seconds left in the opening half, the Bucs facing fourth down and after Tampa Bay had originally planned to punt the ball away.

Instead, Brady convinced Bucs coach Bruce Arians to give him a shot, both Brady and Miller executed it perfectly and Tampa Bay was suddenly up 21-10 at halftime instead of 14-10. When Green Bay turned the ball over on its opening possession of the second half and the Bucs went up 28-10 on Brady's third touchdown toss of the game, Tampa Bay pretty much had all it needed to become the first team in 55 Super Bowls to play on its home field for its sport's biggest prize.

"We're coming home, and we're coming home to win," Arians said during his turn at the microphone after the game.

And how could anyone doubt him with Brady and a defense that kept Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers running for his life much of the contest?

Still, whether Brady wants to admit or not, he's the star. By a wide margin. And unlike the first nine Super Bowls he reached with New England — six of them resulting in victory, the most by any quarterback ever — he won't be sharing praise with Patriots coach Bill Belichick this time around. In fact, given New England's losing record this season, it might be fair to argue that it was Brady instead of his coach who did the most to build that dynasty.

Not that this Bucs win was only because of Brady. Far from it. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dialed up blitzes that made Rodgers uncomfortable most of the game, and without that, the Bucs might not have survived Brady's three interceptions. But thanks to that defense, Green Bay came away with but six points from those three picks, which ultimately proved the difference.

But it's folly to judge Brady's worth on playing statistics alone. Prior to his arrival in Florida this past offseason, Tampa Bay hadn't been to the playoffs since 2007. The Bucs hadn't won a postseason game since capturing the Super Bowl title for the 2002 season.

Yet here they are, back in the biggest game for the first time in two decades, having won three straight playoff contests in order to host Super Bowl LV. And that has Brady's fingerprints all over it, both on and off the field.

Or as Arians — who's in his second year as Tampa Bay's coach — said afterward, "Just the belief he gave everybody in this organization."

To that point, Miller said of the crucial touchdown he and Brady combined on just before the half: "Tom is the GOAT (greatest of all time). Last year, we ended 7-9. This year, we're going to the Super Bowl. He's the biggest reason."

He's been the GOAT of his sport for some time. Most Super Bowl rings (six and counting). Most appearances (10). Most playoff wins (33 and counting). Most career passing yards. First quarterback with a Super Bowl ring to guide his new team to a Super Bowl in his first season with that club.

None of that means the Bucs will win when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7. There's a reason why the Chiefs are the reigning champions: They're terrific, especially on offense, as the Buffalo Bills found out Sunday evening, when they lost 38-24 in the AFC title game at Kansas City.

But no one has ever been more terrific in the NFL's grandest game than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. And now it must also be considered that no quarterback in history has been better at making those around him better when it matters most.

"It only took one man," Arians said of the reason for the Bucs' turnaround.

Actually, it only took one man making a team of men believe they could accomplish super things. Perhaps that's why the greatest of all time keeps getting greater by the season.

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Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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