by Dave DeLano
The Green Bay Packers won the football game with the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday by a score of 26-20. They were fortunate to come away with a win. Clearly no style points were scored by either team but the win evens the Packers’ 2017 record at 6-6, thus keeping them mathematically still in the hunt for a post-season playoff spot. Of course, after witnessing this stinker, the current level of performance certainly wouldn’t get them far in the post-season tournament.
The Buccaneers scored first as the Packer defense resembled Swiss cheese on Tampa Bays’ first drive, which set the tone for the porous defense for much of the afternoon. Two big plays occurred in the second quarter. Kyle Fackrell blocked a punt and gave the Packers excellent field position, which led to a Jamaal Williams’ touchdown run. The second significant play was a strip sack by Kenny Clark in which the ball got loose and was scooped up and run back for a 61-yard touchdown by Dean Lowry. At halftime the Packers were up 17-10.
As the third quarter played out the Packer offense went into a severe hibernation, going three and out on their first three possessions of the second half. Quarterback Brett Hundley had a gawd-awful game. Having badly missed a touchdown opportunity to a wide-open Geronimo Allison and thrown an ill-advised interception in the first half, Hundley’s second-half passing attempts were limited by Mike McCarthy’s play calling, and when he did throw, they were very short high-percentage variety. Hundley’s yards-per-pass completion for the game totaled a putrid 3.8 yards.
After no scoring in the third quarter, the Buccaneers kicked a field goal followed by a long touchdown drive. That activity took a toll on the exhausted Packer defense and changed the score to 20-17 in favor of the Buccaneers. With six minutes left in regular time the Packers drove to the four-yard line where the drive fizzled and a short field goal attempt was successful to tie the score at 20. Time expired without further scoring so the game went to overtime.
The Packers won the coin flip and put together a nice drive combining the running of Jamaal Williams and Brett Hundley. The drive proceeded to the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line at which time Aaron Jones was inserted to give workhorse Williams a breather. Jones then took his first handoff of the afternoon and ran into a wall of tacklers, but he cut back outside and accelerated quickly into the end zone for the Packer win. Perfect ending!
A quick look at the stat sheet reveals some good and some bad tendencies. In total yards the Packers were outgained 395 to 276, the Packers recorded seven sacks, and Jamaal Williams led all rushers with 113 yards. Hundley’s quarterback rating was way down in the 40s, his passing accounting for a paltry total of 84 yards. Blake Martinez continued his terror this year as the Packers’ leading tackler with 12 tackles on the day.
The Packers travel to Cleveland next week where they will tangle with the worst team in the NFL, the Browns. The Browns’ current record is 0-12. If the Packers game plan properly, it seems they have the tools without Aaron Rodgers to win in Cleveland. The gamblers like them by 3.5 points. If that happens there are three more games to play and rumor has it that Rodgers is raring to play and will be ready to play the following week. It would be so nice to get #12 back in action.