The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' road to the Super Bowl ran through New Orleans, home of a team that beat them twice in 2020.
A third loss wasn't happening for these Buccaneers.
Nursing a 23-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay's defense took the field needing a stop to give Tom Brady a chance to put away a playoff victory. Linebacker Devin White answered the call, slipping underneath a Drew Brees pass up the seam, intercepting it and returning it 20 yards to New Orleans' 28.
Four plays later, Brady led the Bucs to the promised land of the end zone by keeping it himself on a one-yard sneak for a touchdown.
"He was great. Just to see Devin make those plays, that's what he's capable of making," coach Bruce Arians said. "Everybody was criticizing how he can't cover anybody; I think he just proved he can."
Afterward, White summed up Tampa Bay's approach to the game-changing possession with a legendary response from his head coach.
"We had to look ourselves in the mirror and challenge ourselves on who we wanted to be," White said, via ESPN's Jenna Laine. "Everybody always asked what was our identity. We didn't have an answer. But Coach BA had an answer. He said, 'We're some mother-f-----s who are gonna find a way to win the game."
White's teammates did exactly that, forcing another Brees turnover via tipped interception and putting the game away by picking up a pair of first downs before kneeling out the remaining two minutes to send Tampa Bay to its first NFC Championship Game since the 2002 season.
White has been an essential piece in Tampa Bay's defense, which finished the regular season as the best unit against the run and against runs inside the tackles (allowing just 2.9 yards per carry on such attempts, per Next Gen Stats). Tampa Bay prevented Alvin Kamara from hurting them on the ground, allowing 85 yards on 18 carries Sunday.
And when it came time to make a significant play in a key spot, White rose to the occasion, finishing with 11 tackles and the pivotal interception. His Buccaneers will attempt to do the same next week against the top-seeded Packers -- a team Tampa Bay destroyed, 38-10, in the regular season -- in the NFC Championship Game.
"This is a different football team than that week," Arians said, in reference to the Bucs giving up 38 points to the Saints in a Week 9 loss. "Tried to tell everybody that, nobody wants to believe me. But, yeah, this is the way we're capable of playing. Defensively, we've had some rough spots at times but we've had some really, really good times. This is one of the best times."