Bucs’ defense shines in big win over Packers

by Gary Shelton on October 19, 2020

in general

Dean turned the game around with his interception./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

There is some bad news on hand. State Farm is on line two.

Aaron Rodgers, your insurance rates are going up.

When you consider the abuse that Rodgers suffered in the final three quarters of Tampa Bay's 38-10 clobbering over the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers, how could they not?

The last three quarters of Sunday's game had to be embarrassing for Rodgers, who had started the season like a house afire. He was sacked

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four times, and Bucs' defenders hit him 13 times. He was intercepted twice, after not throwing a pick for the team's first four games. After coming in with a rating of 128.4, he had only a 35.4 against the Bucs. He threw for just 53 yards in the final three quarters, seeing a 10-0 lead turn into a lopsided loss.

It was the defining victory of the young season for the Bucs, now 4-2. It was their first victory over a team that was flying high, and it suggested that the Bucs should indeed be a playoff team.

It was almost flawless by the Bucs. They didn't have a turnover. For crying out loud, they didn't have a penalty. Tom Brady played his third game in his last four without an interception and with a rating of above 100.

The Bucs turned the game around with a couple of interceptions. After Green Bay jumped to a 10-0 lead, Jamel Dean intercepted a pass and returned it 32 years for a score. Two Rodgers passes later, Mike Edwards picked off a pass and returned it to the Packers' 2, setting up an easy touchdown run by Ronald Jones II.

Speaking of Jones, he has turned into a force. He rushed for 113 yards, his third straight game above 100.

For the most part, however, the day belonged to the defense. Consider: The Packers rushed for 94 yards, but 45 of those came on two runs. The offensive line couldn't keep Rodgers from being sacked. His four were more than he had had all season (three) coming into the game. The Packers had just four first downs after the first period.

“I think the big turnaround was, you know they came out to a quick start and we kind of hung in there, and then Dean made his play and that kind of changed the momentum in, I thought, the whole stadium," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "We came right back with another one, knocked it in, got the lead. I thought that our offense… As a team I don’t think we had any penalties, I don’t think we had any sacks and if you don’t have any turnovers you’re going to be hard to beat so we kind of set a new standard for ourselves in that regard against a quality opponent. And we were just able to get after Aaron (Rodgers). Once we got the running game shut down it was just a matter of getting after him and Todd (Bowles) did a great job with multiple looks and coverages.”

Inside linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David were excellent. White had 10 tackles, a sack and three tackles for losses. David had eight tackles, a sack and a half and two tackles for losses.

“Their speed just shows up over and over, sideline to sideline, but they’re excellent blitzers," Arians said. "When you have Shaq (Barrett) and Jason (Pierre-Paul) out there it’s hard to send them all the time but that’s four really good blitzers.”

Said White: we always pride ourselves – you know we have great stars on the offensive side of the ball, but like I said in the beginning of the season, we want this team to be a defensive team because at the end of the day we want to be the guys on the field when it’s crunch time. We want to be the ones to be able to make that play or get us off the field and get our offense the ball back. I think we showed just that. It’s just a win. We just have to build off of it. We have to go back to work, because, you know, we have another great opponent coming up that has been doing great things. I think our whole thing is just communication and just playing our ball because we have a lot of guys that can get after it everywhere whether it’s in the passing game, or the run game or getting after the quarterback.”

The Packers had had an easy first four games, scoring at least 30 points in each game. But against the Bucs, they seemed flustered.

“I thought that Todd mixed it up really, really good with his fronts, blitzes, coverages and you don’t usually get Aaron Rodgers confused," Arians said. That’s one thing that I don’t think I’ve ever seen, him confused, but when you start running him down and chasing him out of there… early in the game he was chased out and he made a lot of plays but we just kept chasing him and hemmed him up a little bit and got some hits on him. The defensive line, linebackers and the secondary, it was a great defensive performance.”

The Bucs are tied for second in the NFL in interceptions and sacks.

The Bucs have had good games before this season, but often, it was against a weaker opponent or one missing their quarterback. This was the most impressive showing against a quality opponent this season.

It was the biggest game of the year for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought that Tom and Rob had great connections," Arians said. "Crossing routes, we got the match-up that we wanted on the fade ball and Gronk did a heck of a job of adjusting to that ball and getting the touchdown. I just wish that he could have spiked it with his right shoulder but his right shoulder is hurt. He misses his good spikes but he made some huge, huge plays for us.”

Brady was efficient underneath, but perhaps the most impressive part of the game was the lack of errors. No turnovers. No penalties. Mostly, all Brady had to do was steer.

“Jamel made a hell of a play," Brady said. "He did that to us in training camp a few times, so that was huge play. It sparked us, then we got another turnover, got the ball in, had a decent drive (and) got the ball in. It was good. I think not turning the ball over helped a lot (and) I think not being behind on down and distance helped a lot. But certainly [there are] better things that we can do [and] things better than what we did today. We’re going to keep working at it.”

The Bucs make their first trip to Las Vegas this week, playing the Raiders and former coach Jon Gruden on Sunday night. The game begins at 8:20 p.m.

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