The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were initially optimistic that Antonio Brown would be on the field for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. But despite the early optimism, Brown's lingering knee injury ultimately kept him out the Buccaneers' 31-26 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
While Brown had to miss Sunday's game, the Buccaneers expect to have the former All-Pro receiver back in the lineup for Super Bowl LV, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Brown has a little less than two weeks to heal for the game, which will take place in Tampa Bay on Feb. 7.
Brown appeared to suffer the injury during the second half of the Buccaneers' divisional round playoff victory over the Saints. Brown, who spent most of the final moments of that game on the sideline, underwent an MRI last Monday. He did not practice the week leading up to the NFC title game. In Brown's absence, the Buccaneers were still able to throw for 280 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay's defense. Chris Godwin led the Buccaneers with five catches for 110 yards. Mike Evans caught three passes that included the game's first touchdown. Fellow wideout Scott Miller's 39-yard touchdown catch just before halftime gave the Buccaneers a 21-10 lead at intermission.
After serving an eight-game suspension, Brown signed with the Buccaneers on Oct. 25. In eight regular season games, Brown caught 45 of 62 targets for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He caught his fifth career postseason touchdown pass in Tampa Bay's wild-card playoff win in Washington. If the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, Brown would receive a $750,000 bonus as part of his contract, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers are already interested in having Brown back for the 2021 season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The Buccaneers currently have Tom Brady signed through the '21 season, as Brady signed a two-year deal with the club last offseason.
While Brady is in pursuit of his seventh Super Bowl ring, Brown is hoping to win his first ring. A fellow member of the NFL's All-2010s Team, Brown lost his only previous Super Bowl appearance, as Pittsburgh fell to Green Bay during Brown's rookie season.