This is the feeling we've gotten so used to over the years, yet somehow it feels just as sweet each time. The Pack flew down to Tampa Bay for a battle with the 2-0 Buccaneers on Sunday and walked out of Raymond James Stadium with the 14-12 victory. It was presented as the potential final meeting between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, however, the real stars of this game belong to the Green Bay Defense.
After starting to show signs of the defense we all expected last week versus Chicago, the team put on a masterclass performance against Tampa Bay last night. The first Bucs' drive saw Tom Brady's men go on a 10-play, 48-yard drive to settle for a Ryan Succop field goal. That would be the only points Tampa Bay scored the rest of the half. Green Bay forced 2 fumbles in the first half and continuously shut Leonard Fournette down en route to helping the Packers go to the locker room with a 14-3 halftime lead.
While the Green Bay offense sputtered and stalled out in the 2nd half, the defense did not. Picking up where they left off in the 1st half, Joe Barry's defensive unit continued to cause havoc for Brady. Kenny Clark used his big and agile frame to get himself into the Buccaneers' backfield on multiple occasions, along with Rashaan Gary, to put Tom Brady under distress in the pocket. Clark ended the game with 2 sacks and Gary added 1 to his season tally.
Tampa Bay had under 200 total net yards prior to the final drive of the game. Ryan Succop banged in his 2nd 45-yard field goal of the game in the 3rd quarter to make the score 14-6. The Bucs' forced Green Bay into a 3 and out to get the ball back for one final drive to tie the game. In typical Tom Brady fashion, he marched Tampa on a 13-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that took 2:50. The GOAT used his 2-minute, tempo, offense to break down the stingy Pack' defense for the first time all day. This setup a dramatic 2pt conversion finish.
On the touchdown pass to pull the game back to 14-12, it sure seemed the Buccaneers were the beneficiaries of a blown no call. The clock had hit :00 before the ball got snapped. This is important because Tampa ended up getting called for this exact penalty on the 2pt try. It moved them back 5 yards and basically forced a pass play. Brady dropped back and tried for a corner endzone throw but superman, err, I mean Devondre Campbell jumped to deflect the ball. After a nervy onside kick was secured, Rodger's took a kneel to close out the road victory.
The Defense was nothing short of spectacular in this game. Keep in mind they lost All-Pro CB, Jaire Alexander, early in the first half but Keisean Nixon did fantastic filling in his role. Nixon ended with 7 tackles and multiple deflections. It was the type of defensive performance that you want to see and expect each week from this group. As Aaron Rodgers' said in his postgame comments, "If our defense is holding them to 12 points, we're probably going to win all those games"
It was a serious gut check performance by Green Bay on Sunday afternoon/evening, against a team they may see again in January. The Packers move to 2-1 on the year with a date versus the New England Patriots looming back home in Lambeau. Safe to say we will have most of America, outside of Bostonians, rooting for our cheeseheads in week 4!
GO PACK GO!