The Green Bay Packers ran their season record to 10-0 with a 35-26 victory over Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, but it was an ugly affair as the Packers arguably played their worst game of the year. After sixteen wins in a row, Cheeseheads have developed a very high expectation level of their club. Ugly wins attract criticism but, to put it all in perspective, sixteen wins in a row is an all-time franchise record. Life is good.
It was a game of screw-ups and mistakes from the get-go as punter Tim Masthay managed to fumble twice on the Packers’ first possession yet somehow turned that play into a first down. That drive continued and was culminated when behemoth nose tackle BJ Raji plowed into the end zone from the fullback position.
After playing superbly last week against the Vikings, the Packers’ defense reverted to their early season miscues as they allowed the Bucs to run up far too many yards. Sloppy tackling allowed the Bucs’ running back to pull off one particularly ugly 54-yard scamper as the feisty Bucs made it known that they had not come to Lambeau to get rolled. By halftime, Aaron Rodgers and Co. had built a 21-10 lead, but the Packers were not sharp on this day and yes, there was more adversity to come.
Rodgers has perfected the back shoulder throw to his receivers this year. Rodgers also frequently calls a run/pass option play with great success. The Bucs must have studied the Packers well as both of these proclivities were used against the Packers on this day and unfortunately with good success.
To counteract the Bucs’ success in churning up yards and points, Rodgers started lighting up the scoreboard. Two of Rodgers’ three touchdown passes went to Jordy Nelson, who is having a superb season. Despite two interceptions by Tramon Williams, the Bucs kept this game entertaining, closing the score to a difference of just two points twice. The Packers continued to sputter but their awesome offensive juggernaut responded to each challenge and in the end 35 points were on the scoreboard and the game was in the win column.
So the Packers escaped this potential “trap” game and hopefully got their worse game of the season behind them. This week’s challenge is a very short week as the Packers play the Lions in Detroit in the early game on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions have been a pathetic franchise for decades but have recently accumulated some very good players via their lofty draft pick positioning and are always a tough challenge on Thanksgiving regardless of talent level.
The Lions have a good young quarterback and one of the best wide receivers in the game. Their defensive line is stout and star-studded. Fortunately, the Lions do not have a strong running game and on defense their pass coverage can be exploited. Aaron Rodgers needs good protection from his offensive line next week then the advantage goes to the Packers. The Lions have developed a reputation lately as a dirty, cheap-shot team, which might just cause some indigestion on Turkey Day.