The Green Bay Packers headed down south to Tampa Bay for their first real test of the season against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. The Packers, coming off of yet another dominant performance against the Chicago Bears in their home opener, hoped to continue finding their offensive rhythm against a tough Buccaneer defense, while the defense looked to limit a battered Buccaneer offense missing many key players. The Packers themselves were also without key players, notably rookie wide receiver Christain Watson and veteran Sammy Watkins, both of whom are dealing with hamstring injuries. The Packers were lucky to get back all-pro left tackle David Bahktiari, making his first meaningful appearance in a game since tearing his ACL back in 2020. In what could very well be the final time Aaron Rodgers and Brady face off, the game looked to be a defensive slugfest.
The Packers offense opened the game with a beautiful 75-yard touchdown drive. The offense looked like they finally found their rhythm with Rodgers completing every pass attempt, and AJ Dillion and Aaron Jones getting big gains on their way to a Romeo Doubs touchdown reception. After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, the offense continued to dominate on their way to a second touchdown drive, this time on a pass to Allen Lazard. After the defense forced yet another Buccaneers three-and-out, the Packers offense went right back to work and drove all the way down to the Tampa Bay two-yard line until an Aaron Jones fumble turned the ball over. The Green Bay defense would let up some yards but Keisean Nixon would ultimately force a second Tampa Bay fumble. The Packers dominated on both sides of the ball in the first half, with the defense only giving up one field goal on Tampa Bay’s opening drive, and the offense looking in control for all but one drive. The Packers went into the half up 14-3.
It was a tale of two halves for the Packers offense in this game. While Rodgers and the Packers offense were near perfect in the first half, with Rodgers going 15/18 for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns, they just simply could not get anything going in the second half. Following the Aaron Jones fumble, the Packers offense would falter, with seven of their next eight drives ending in a punt and the other ending due to a Rodgers interception. With the Packers struggling offensively, going an abysmal one for 10 on third downs in the second half, the defense had to step up, and they did just that, forcing punts on every drive with the exception of one, where they gave up a field goal on a short field following the Rodgers interception. As promised, it would be a back and forth defensive slugfest down to the last drive. It looked like Brady would once again make a comeback, as he drove the Buccaneers 89 yards and scored what could’ve been the game tying score, but De’Vondre Campbell would stop the two-point conversion attempt to keep the Packers ahead. Allen Lazard would recover the ensuing onside kick attempt to seal a Packers victory over the Buccaneers, with a final score of 14-12.
Players of the Game
After Jaire Alexander went down with a groin injury early in the game, Neisean Nixon filled in for him and did an outstanding job in coverage, only giving up one big play. Nixon would record seven tackles in relief of Alexander. Nixon would also down a punt on the Bucs two yard line to pin them deep in their own territory.
In a breakout performance, Romeo Doubs was excellent as the WR2 for the Packers offense. Doubs would record eight receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown and was responsible for one of the Packers few big chunk plays in the second half. Doubs looks like he will be a valuable asset to the Packers offense.
Jaire Alexander suffered a groin injury on the first defensive drive of the game. He did not return to the game.
Josh Myers suffered an injury late into the fourth quarter and was replaced by Jake Hanson.
While the Packers did walk away with a win this week, it was by no means a total victory for them. In what seems to be a trend in Matt Lafleur lead offenses, once they got kicked in the mouth with the Jones fumble, the offense was never able to find its stride again. The Packers offense needs to find ways to close out games and recover from bad mistakes. Even one field goal would’ve put the game away. Their inability to move the ball after making mistakes is concerning and will eventually cost them games. They cannot rely on the defense to hold every offense to 12 points a game, especially since every offense won’t be down their top three receivers and have health issues on the offensive line. The defense won’t win every game for the Packers, so the offense needs to find ways to give them a break and some cushion to work with in future matchups.
Regardless, the Packers head into their week four matchup with a winning record, and will head back to Lambeau to host the New England Patriots (1-2) who are coming off of a high-scoring loss to the Baltimore Ravens.