(WLAX/WEUX) – “They flat out whipped us.”
That was the assessment of head coach Matt LaFleur 24 hours after the Packers’ 38-10 debacle in Tampa Bay in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“Lack of execution carried over from last week’s practices,” LaFleur said. “. . . (we’d) better bring you’re A-game or they’ll embarrass you. And that’s exactly what happened. . . got to bounce back from this one.”
Coming off a much-needed bye week, Green Bay looked sharp in the game’s first 15 minutes at Raymond James Stadium. The Packers jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a Mason Crosby field goal and a 1-yard Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown run.
From then on, it was all Tampa Bay. And it started with the Buccaneers defense.
Aaron Rodgers, who had thrown 13 touchdowns and no interceptions entering the contest, was intercepted twice on back-to-back possessions in a quarter dominated by Tampa Bay with 28 points.
Cornerback Jamel Dean’s pick six of Rodgers on a ball intended for Davante Adams in the second quarter turned the momentum of the game and ignited the Buccaneers. On the next series, another Rodgers’ aerial intended for a tightly covered Adams was deflected away and into the waiting arms of safety Mike Edwards, who returned it to the Green Bay 2.
One play later, running back Ronald Johnson II scored easily and Tampa Bay led 14-10 and the rout was on.
“That pick-6 changed the entire ballgame,” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said.
A duel between two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks never materialized.
Brady’s numbers were pedestrian by his lofty standards: 17 completions in 27 attempts, 166 yards, two touchdowns, including a perfect 12-yard fade to Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter.
Brady and the offense were efficient and played mistake-free, rattling off 38 unanswered points as their balanced attack overwhelmed the Green Bay defense. Johnson was a workhorse, rushing 23 times for 113 times (4.9-yard average per rush) and two short touchdown runs.
Tampa Bay, its own worst enemy at times this season, had no penalties, no sacks, and no turnovers in the game—the first time that’s occurred since 1999 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Devin White embodied the Buccaneers’ physical and relentless unit that shut down Green Bay’s offense and the “Aarons.” Tampa Bay sacked Rodgers five times, intercepted him twice, and registered 13 quarterback hits and limited Jones to 10 rushes for a meager 15 yards.
White was a dominant force all over the field, recording 10 total tackles (9 solo), one sack, three tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits.
The Packers offense could never get untracked.
“I don’t feel like we ever got into a rhythm,” Rodgers said. “Even with 10 points to start the game, we had off-schedule plays to kind of keep drives alive.”
LaFleur took some of the blame as the play-caller in his Monday afternoon zoom press conference, saying he had to do a better job..
“You are only good as your last game. . you can never get comfortable or you’ll get embarrassed,” he said. “Any time you get punched in month like that. . . (you have to be) critical of yourself and learn from your mistakes. Can’t allow one loss to lead to two.”
Aaron Rodgers matter-of-factly said after the contest that this was a “wake-up call” and “kick in the a–” for the Packers, who had seemed to rack up points with ease and with no turnovers in the first four games of the season.
Rodgers also enjoyed stellar protection from his offensive line and running back Aaron Jones’ versatility and production provided great balance to the offense. But a blitzing and dominant defense make a statement to the Packers and the NFC. They are for real.
Green Bay absorbed its first loss of the year to fall to 4-1 and in second place to 5-1 Chicago in the NFC North.