The Green Bay Packers came away with a win at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had lost three in a row coming in, but no one was terribly excited about it.
The good news is the Packers are 10-0 and remain one game ahead of the now 9-1 San Francisco 49ers.
The bad news is the Packers played a team they should have handled and they let them hang around until the final moments of the 4th quarter.
After Green Bay jumped out to a 14-0 lead, which made the game look like it would be over before halftime, the defense decided to do their best impression of a Benny Hill skit by letting Tampa running back LaGarrette Blount run through five tackles to give the Bucs momentum. The run closed the score to 14-7 and it would be 21-10 at half, after Jordy Nelson’s first touchdown catch of the day.
Nelson, for one, continued his phenomenal season, catching six balls for 123 yards and two TDs. The final one, a 40-yard strike from Aaron Rodgers, was the winning margin, as the Packers escaped 35-26.
Rodgers, despite throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns, had somewhat of an off day. He threw one pick and missed several passes he normally hits. The Bucs essentially rendered the offense’s two biggest weapons moot — Greg Jennings, who appears to have some sort of leg injury, had only two catches for six yards and Jermichael Finley had only one for 30.
The main problem for the Packers was their defense, though.
After registering a dominating performance against Minnesota, the Packers defense more closely resembled the unit we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the rest of the season — bend, a lot, but come up with opportunistic turnovers to save the day.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers rotated between his base defense and the nickel and the Buccaneers were able to take advantage accordingly. When Capers used his base to stop Blount, the Bucs threw the ball. The strategy worked, as Josh Freeman threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
His two picks were ultimately the difference — both were grabbed by Tramon Williams. His second interception, late in the 4th, went a long way toward sealing the win.
While the defense didn’t make many plays outside of Williams — the team had only two sacks on the day and let Freeman pick them apart — you have to wonder about the play calling.
The Packers gave their running backs only 17 carries on the day. One of those went to B.J. Raji on a goal-line touchdown run. While Raji’s touchdown is swell, it’s at best questionable why Mike McCarthy called a pass on 1st and 10 with under six minutes left and the Packers trying to kill clock. The play resulted in Rodgers’ interception and kept the Bucs in the game.
Oh, and at worst, that play call is goddam asinine, but, hell, I digress.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I’m hungry for some deep-fried turkey, some whiskey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and some goddam Lion.