The duel of geriatric quarterbacks went to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, once more denying former Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan a chance to perhaps play in the Super Bowl.
Brady, 43, threw a touchdown and ran for one as the Bucs scored the final 17 points to beat 42-year-old Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 30-20 in the NFC playoffs on Sunday.
Brady will move on to the NFC championship game next week on the road against the Green Bay Packers, where he will face ex-Cal star Aaron Rodgers.
The game that will determine the NFC’s representative to Super Bowl LV will be played Sunday with a 12:05 p.m. PT kickoff on Fox.
Defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City will face Buffalo in Sunday’s AFC title game, kicking off at 3:40 p.m. PT on CBS.
The Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns 22-17 on Sunday to take a big step toward a return to the Super Bowl. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the game with a concussion and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, formerly of Cal, did not play due to an ongoing back injury.
Schwartz, who has not played since Week 7, is questionable for the AFC title game.
Sunday’s NFC outcome prevents Jordan, 31, from chasing his first Super Bowl appearance.
New Orleans last played in the Super Bowl following the 2009 season, when the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colt 31-17 in SB XLIV. That was Jordan’s junior season at Cal.
Jordan had four tackles, including three solo, and got one hit on Brady in Sunday’s game at New Orleans.
The Saints had beaten Brady and the Bucs twice in the regular season, including by a 38-3 margin on Nov. 8.
Brady turned the tables this time. passing for 199 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions, in addition to his rising TD. Brees, who turned 42 on Friday, passed for 134 yards and a touchdown but was picked off three times.
Jordan, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and 2017 first-team All-Pro selection, has started every regular-season game of his nine NFL seasons. This was his 11th career playoff game.
COVER PHOTO OF CAMERON JORDAN BY DERICK E. HINGLE, USA TODAY
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo