Writing this recap has been brutal. Losing to an 0-7 team is always hard. But looking back at the game, they did so many things right.
But then the special teams failed them (blocked punt for TD; 83 yard kickoff return allowed) and the defense, which played great outside the red zone, allowed 3 TDs on all 3 Tampa trips into the red zone. It's bad to have 6 sacks (and 12 QB hits), as the offensive line continues on it's historically awful pace, yet they still scored 28 points. You should win the game if you score 28 points.
In that sense, this loss was very similar to the loss last week to the Vikings. Awful special teams gave the Bucs (and Vikings) a huge field position advantage, and the inability of the defense to hold their opponents to FG attempts in the red zone put the score out of reach. The offense has scored 26 and 28 points in those 2 losses. But it's seemingly impossible for the offense to score more than that with the awful pass protection.
I have a hard time blaming QB Aaron Rodgers. Despite 3 INTs, he did score 3 TDs. They have to be able to win games even when he has a couple turnovers. And I don't count the last INT that was returned for a TD against him since it was a 4th down desperation play.
"We've got to get to work as soon as possible on Dallas," said Mike McCarthy at his post-game press conference. What else can they do? They aren't going to find a consistent pass rush sometime this season. Maybe they can find someone to do a better job on kick coverage and special teams blocking. And the good news is that RT Mark Tauscher's knee injury does not appear to be serious, according to the Press-Gazette, so once he returns (again) and they bench LG Daryn Colledge, the offensive line could actually improve. I'm just fed up with Colledge. He mixes in a couple good games with a stinker like this. He's been doing that in each of his 4 seasons. Though as I mention above, it's not exactly the offense that's the problem.
The remaining schedule is a little rougher. Next week against the Cowboys looks tough. The game in Pittsburgh on December 20 is another bad one. But the rest of them are all winnable games against teams with problems of their own (49ers, Lions, Ravens, Bears and Seahawks). I'd put the Cardinals into the tough category, but it's hard to tell with them since they mix in good wins (Giants, Bears) with a stinker loss (Panthers).
Just focus on a win each week and battle for a Wild Card spot. Play-by-play recap after the jump.
The play-by-play from NFL.com:
(12:27) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 89-J.Jones for 74 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Obviously it was a great pass, and a great run by WR James Jones. It's really disappointing to remember how good the pass protection was early in the game, and how it deteriorated as the game went on.
(9:48) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle intended for 80-D.Driver INTERCEPTED by 33-E.Mack at GB 44. 33-E.Mack to GB 8 for 36 yards (12-A.Rodgers).
Mike McCarthy said in the post-game press conference that Rodgers just didn't see the cornerback in Tampa's base defense.
(8:52) (Shotgun) 5-J.Freeman pass short right to 28-D.Ward for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Yes, LB Aaron Kampman isn't very good in pass coverage. But obviously it's really hard for the defense to prevent a score when the Bucs only have to go 8 yards after the INT.
(8:02) 25-R.Grant left tackle to TB 44 for 20 yards (36-T.Jackson).
There were a couple times when RB Ryan Grant almost broke a big run. It was a horrible game for the offensive line, but they did manage to open up some running lanes against the Bucs awful run defense.
(12:09) (Punt formation) 7-J.Kapinos punt is BLOCKED by 54-G.Hayes, Center-61-B.Goode, RECOVERED by TB-20-R.Barber at GB 31. 20-R.Barber for 31 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Tom Silverstein said that FB John Kuhn failed to pick up the LB who blocked the punt.
(7:46) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 80-D.Driver for 32 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
A great route by WR Donald Driver. He faked CB Ronde Barber into believing a slant route, and then sprinted down the sideline. And made a difficult over the shoulder catch while dancing around in the pylon.
(6:49) 5-J.Freeman Aborted. 52-J.Faine FUMBLES at TB 3, recovered by TB-5-J.Freeman at TB 3. 5-J.Freeman to TB 3 for no gain (77-C.Jenkins).
I thought QB Josh Freeman had 2 botched fumbles, but apparently this was the only one. It was 1 of 2 recorded fumbles, the other was a botched lateral, but neither fumble bounced the Packers' way.
(5:21) (Shotgun) PENALTY on GB-70-T.Lang, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at TB 45 - No Play.
McCarthy had talked about rotating tackles, and at this point LT T.J. Lang came in for LT Chad Clifton for 2 plays. Rodgers wasn't sacked at all during the 1st half, but then Lang committed this penalty, allowed a hit on Rodgers, and was pulled for Clifton by 3rd down. I don't recall seeing him the rest of the game.
(3:11) 5-J.Freeman pass deep left intended for 85-M.Stovall INTERCEPTED by 36-N.Collins at GB 41. 36-N.Collins to TB 46 for 13 yards (85-M.Stovall).
Freeman's accuracy was bad, he only completed 45% of his passes, but this was his only INT. His accuracy did seem to improve in the red zone.
(2:49) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to 80-D.Driver.
Then the offense did nothing with their best starting field position of the day. It also gave the Bucs another opportunity on offense and Freeman had his best drive of the 1st half which led to a FG. This was easily a 6 point swing if the Packers could have gotten a couple 1st downs after the INT.
(14:17) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 1 for -5 yards (sack split by 91-S.White and 95-C.Hovan). Tampa Bay challenged the safety ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1.)
Though RT Allen Barbre came in for Tauscher, the 1st sack, and most pressure thereafter, came from the left side. It wasn't anything complicated; they just went in for the bull rush and overpowered the left side (Colledge and Clifton) of the line. DE Stylez White doubled his sack total from 1.5 to 3 in this game.
(10:20) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 27 for -5 yards (71-M.Bennett).
A defensive tackle the Bucs picked up off waivers a few weeks ago threw TE Donald Lee out of the way for the sack.
(8:17) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle intended for 85-G.Jennings INTERCEPTED by 25-A.Talib (41-C.Lynch) at TB 1. 25-A.Talib to TB 16 for 15 yards (80-D.Driver).
Another missed opportunity on offense. A 1st down in Tampa territory and Rodgers lofts this one into triple coverage. Though Driver put a huge hit on CB Aqib Talib. Just a bad decision by Rodgers. It took potential points away from the Packers, but the Bucs didn't do anything with the ball on offense.
(6:40) 5-J.Freeman pass incomplete short right to 34-E.Graham.
(1:51) (Shotgun) 5-J.Freeman pass incomplete short right to 18-S.Stroughter (24-J.Bush).
The Packers run defense was very good again in this game. The Bucs have been able to run the ball a little this season, but they didn't do anything against the Packers. On 2 consecutive 3rd and short plays, the Bucs decided to throw instead and failed to convert either.
(13:39) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at TB 12 for -6 yards (93-R.Miller).
This was a coverage sack. Rodgers was just waiting for something that never opened up.
(13:04) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers scrambles left end for 12 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
But he made good on the next play with the TD run. They ran 6 of 9 plays on this drive out of the shotgun.
2-M.Crosby kicks 70 yards from GB 30 to TB 0. 22-C.Smith to GB 17 for 83 yards (38-T.Williams).
(11:44) (Shotgun) 5-J.Freeman pass short left to 82-K.Winslow for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
The big problem in the red zone was Freeman just too well protected. He had time to wait, on this TD he rolled to his left with no pressure. The Packers have been burned this season on the blitz, but rushing only 4 down lineman has produced so little pass pressure. It really hurt that Kampman was out by this point with a head injury. LB Brady Poppinga did nothing as his replacement.
(7:29) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to 41-S.Havner [91-S.White].
After the Tampa TD, the Packers call 6 straight running plays, and this 3rd down pass fails. An awful punt nets them only 22 yards.
(5:58) (Shotgun) 5-J.Freeman pass deep left to 80-M.Clayton to GB 13 for 29 yards (31-A.Harris).
(4:20) (Shotgun) 5-J.Freeman pass short right to 18-S.Stroughter for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Again, I don't recall any noticeable pressure on Freeman during this drive. It's not like Freeman's accuracy was greatly improved, I thought that pass to WR Michael Clayton was tipped except it was just under thrown. Though the TD pass was well thrown.
(4:14) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 13 for -7 yards (98-R.Sims).
(3:05) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers scrambles right end ran ob at GB 32 for 8 yards. PENALTY on GB-73-D.Colledge, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at GB 24 - No Play.
(2:57) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 14 for 0 yards (96-T.Crowder).
The first sack should be on RG Josh Sitton. The lineman knocked him back, ran around him up the middle, and collapsed the pocket. Rodgers recovers for a 1st down run, but Colledge only prevented a sack by committing a holding penalty. Last week, Barbre was benched after a critical late holding penalty ended any chance at a rally. This week, Colledge did the same thing and should get benched too. As far as I remember, the final sack on this series (it's hard to keep them all straight) was a total collapse but DE Tim Crowder got credit for it.
(1:31) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 4 for -9 yards (91-S.White).
(:52) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep left intended for 80-D.Driver INTERCEPTED by 36-T.Jackson at GB 35. 36-T.Jackson for 35 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Another sack is one of the reasons, on 4th and 12, Rodgers has to throw a desperate pass to Driver in double coverage that's picked off. The defense gave them another chance, but the o-line couldn't stop the bull rush and the receivers couldn't get open.