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November 20, 2011 @ 5:25 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Show Fight In 35-26 Loss To Packers

Written by Eric
Eric Horchy


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The Buccaneers bounced back from a dreadful performance last Sunday in a 37-9 loss to Houston, but came up short at Green Bay, losing 35-26 to the Packers. Josh Freeman threw two TDs and two INTs, while RB LeGarrette Blount rushed for 107 yards and a TD.

Tampa Bay had its opportunities to sneak out of Green Bay with a streak-busting statement victory Sunday afternoon but Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Packers were not to be denied, holding off the Bucs for a 35-26 win.

The Buccaneers twice pulled within two points of the defending Super Bowl champs during the second half only to see Green Bay respond with touchdowns on its ensuing possessions following both Tampa Bay scores.

Perhaps Sunday’s most pivotal moment came late in the fourth quarter when Bucs head coach Raheem Morris called for the team’s second onside kick of the day just after narrowing Green Bay’s lead to 28-26.

Rather than kick it deep and let the defense try and get the ball back with over 4 minutes remaining, the Packers took over at Tampa Bay’s 46. Three plays later, wide receiver Jordy Nelson badly beat cornerback Myron Lewis down the left sideline and Rodgers hit him in stride for a game-clinching 40-yard touchdown.

The victory extends the Packers’ winning streak to 16 games and improves their record to a perfect 10-0, while Tampa Bay lost for the fourth consecutive time and fell to 4-6.

The Buccaneers’ defeat came despite outgaining Green Bay’s fourth-ranked offense in total yardage, 455-378, and Josh Freeman (28 of 38 for 342 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) standing toe-to-toe with MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers (23 of 43 for 299, 3 TDs 1 INT).

Tampa Bay held a 121-91 advantage in yardage on the ground, primarily behind the strong, determined running of LeGarrette Blount. The second-year back posted his second 100-yard game of the season, rumbling his way to 107 on 18 touches (5.9-yard average).

After getting waxed by Houston at home last Sunday 37-9 and being challenged by the coaching staff to step it up, Tampa Bay largely answered the call by playing one of its better overall games of the season. Despite falling behind 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Bucs did not allow the game to get out of control and kept within striking distance throughout the day.

Separating the teams on this day, though, was the Packers’ ability to capitalize on another slow offensive start for Tampa Bay and make the most of second-chance opportunities.

The first of these new-life chances came during Green Bay’s first offense possession. Tampa Bay had the Packers stuffed deep, but back-to-back neutral zone infractions turned a daunting third-and-16 situation from the 6 into third-and-6 from the 16. The Bucs defense held to force the punt, but Jacob Cutrera’s ability to disrupt Tim Masthay’s kick led to Masthay dashing nine yards for a first down.

Rodgers and Green Bay’s potent offense took full advantage by running 11 more plays and scoring on nose tackle-turned-fullback B.J Raji’s 1-yard run up the middle to stake an early 7-0 lead.

Along with Tampa Bay’s four-game skid continuing on Sunday, the Buccaneers’ streak of scoring no more than seven offensive points in the first quarter climbed to 64 and helped Green Bay jump out to a 14-0 lead by early in the second period. Tampa Bay’s offense managed just a single first down in the initial 15 minutes of play and the Packers took their two-score advantage on a 5-yard pass to sparsely used tight end Tom Crabtree. The touchdown came on a blown coverage by linebacker Quincy Black and the Bucs secondary that left the second-year Packer wide open in the right side of the end zone to record his third catch of the season and first career score.

The Bucs’ highlight reel play of the game came only two snaps from scrimmage later and at no better time. Freeman first moved Tampa Bay to the Bucs’ 46 with a 28-yard, back-shoulder hookup to wide receiver Arrelious Benn. He then handed off to Blount and the 6-foot, 247-pound running back took it from there, breaking four tackles, juking cornerback Sam Shields and stiff-arming linebacker Erik Walden to complete an impressive 54-yard touchdown run. The play was a career-long for Blount and appeared to reenergize the Tampa Bay sideline.

The Bucs cut the lead to 14-10 on Connor Barth’s 23-yard field goal after a solid drive of 11 plays and 75 yards stalled out at the Green Bay 5. It was Tampa Bay’s first trip of the day into the red zone and the Bucs weren’t able to completely cash in a first-and-10 from the 10 situation.

Tampa Bay scored on all four trips inside the Green Bay 20, with two touchdowns and two field goals. In contrast, the Packers ended four of its five red-zone opportunities with six.

Green Bay received prime field position when the Bucs’ surprise onside kick failed to travel the mandatory 10 yards and kicker Michael Koenen was the first to touch the ball. Needing to cover only 38 yards, Rodgers picked apart the Tampa Bay pass defense and scored on a 5-yard quick slant to Nelson.

The Bucs then suffered another missed chance keep pace with the high-scoring Packers, now trailing 21-10. Working with less than two minutes, Freeman’s march toward field goal range ended in Green Bay territory when a poor pass on the run went to Packers cornerback Tramon Williams instead of Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams.

Tampa Bay again had to settle for another three points off Barth’s right foot when its first possession of the second half came to a halt at Green Bay’s 14. More powerful running from Blount and four Freeman completions allowed the Bucs to cover 67 yards in 10 plays and get as close as the 4. The positive momentum was killed with Freeman’s would-be touchdown fade pass to Kellen Winslow was nullified by an offensive pass interference flag against the tight end.

Even with the lost touchdown reception, Winslow had himself a career day in Green Bay. The 132 yards on nine catches was a profession high and Sunday also represented Winslow’s first 100-plus performance since picking up 102 yards on seven receptions during Week 10 at Miami in 2009.

Another of Freeman’s favorite targets showed encouraging signs of emerging from a sophomore slump mired with dropped passes and a lack of being able to get open. Williams, the Bucs No.1 receiver, secured seven of the 11 balls thrown his way for 83 yards and his second touchdown of the season. His only other score came in a Week 1 loss against Detroit.

Trailing 21-13 following Barth’s field goal, a Bucs defense exposed by poor tackling and all-around ineffectiveness during its prior three losses stepped up to keep Tampa Bay in the hunt. Cornerback Aqib Talib’s diving breakup of a pass over the middle intended for wide receiver Greg Jennings forced Green Bay to punt from its own 41.

The Bucs defensive front got to Rodgers for two sacks, hit him four times and repeatedly flushed him from the pocket. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and tackle Brian Price registered the sacks, cornerback Elbert Mack snagged his first interception of the season and strong safety Sean Jones and linebacker Quincy Black led the team with eight tackles each.

Tampa Bay regained possession at its own 9 and Freeman engineered an eight-play, 91-yard scoring drive capped by Williams’ touchdown on a 9-yard quick slant to the left side. Morris and the Bucs correctly opted to go for the tie rather than an extra point, but Winslow dropped Freeman’s two-point pass in the end zone that left Green Bay on top, 21-19.

The Bucs’ ability to quickly build on that momentum began to then suffer from a familiar season-long foe – penalties. Tampa Bay looked to have forced the Packers into a quick three-and-out with over 11 minutes remaining, but a third-and-4 incompletion to Jennings turned into a first down because of cornerback Myron Lewis’s defensive holding infraction against Nelson away from the play. Green Bay took advantage with four plays of over 10 yards and two more Bucs penalties. Fan-favorite fullback John Kuhn finished the drive off with a 2-yard run plunge and Lambeau Leap into the stands.

Mack’s aforementioned interception of Rodgers came less than two minutes later with the score still 28-19 and bailed out a rare Bucs special-teams coverage lapse. Packers return man Randall Cobb took a Koenen punt 60 yards and into Tampa Bay territory after the Bucs went three-and-out. Rodgers gave the ball right back on the drive’s first play, though, when his pass to wide receiver James Jones was jumped by Mack and returned to midfield. It was only Rodgers’ fourth interception of the season.

Working with his shortest field of the day, Freeman connected with Winslow for six yards on a big third-and-5 play one snap prior to hitting Benn 37 yards down the left sideline to the Packers’ 2. Freeman tossed his second touchdown of the day on a play action pass to wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe cutting across the end zone from right to left. Barth’s point after reduced Green Bay’s lead to 28-26 with 4:25 still showing on the clock.

That was as close as the visitors would get when Tampa Bay’s onside kick attempt failed, Nelson beat Lewis down the sideline and Rodgers hit him in stride for a quick six. Trailing 35-26 and needing two scores, the Bucs’ dim chances grew darker when their next offensive play resulted in a tipped-ball interception by Tramon Williams. It was the fifth-year corner’s second pick of the game.

While the silver lining of Sunday’s loss was progression and rejuvenated effort, Tampa Bay still failed to realize an uptick in the win column. The Bucs’ next chance to do so will come next Sunday at 1 p.m. in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. Tampa Bay will try end its longest losing streak since dropping five straight from Weeks 10-14 during 2009’s 3-13 season.

Sunday’s game was played in front of 70,498 fans at sold-out Lambeau Field under cloudy skies. The game-time temperature was listed at 32 degrees and there was a slight northerly wind of 7 miles per hour.

Starting on defense for Tampa Bay was: LE Michael Bennett, DT Brian Price, DT Albert Haynesworth, RE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Quincy Black, MLB Mason Foster, LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Ronde Barber, CB E.J. Biggers, SS Sean Jones, FS Corey Lynch.

The Bucs lined up offensively with: WR Mike Williams, LT Donald Penn, LG Jeremy Zuttah, C Jeff Faine, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood, TE Kellen Winslow, WR Arrelious Benn, RB LeGarrette Blount, FB Erik Lorig and QB Josh Freeman.

Seven Buccaneers were listed as inactive. They were LB Dekoda Watson, CB Anthony Gaitor, WR Michael Spurlock, OT Demar Dotson, DT Frank Okam, DE Derek Hardman and FS Tanard Jackson.


Last modified on Sunday, 20 November 2011 20:36

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  • avatar

    The Glazers do NOT get every penny that comes out of the stadium. They also pay taxes too! Even taxes that go to PAY for the stadium! I saw your other posts and your not the Big Shot you think you are. Your not even in the same class as the Glazers. Your 30 to 50 employees makes makes you a LMB. Now Take you Political Sh*t somewhere else.
  • avatar

    With the Occupy Wall street movement growing every day and corporate greed is rampant, I just have to comment on the Bucs and the Glazers. The Glazers conned the people of Hillsborough County to pay for a new stadium. We will be paying for that stadium for many years to come with our taxes. The Glazers receive every penny that stadium raises even if an event is held there that has nothing to do with the Bucs. The Glazers then take this huge amount of money and puts a team on the field that has had the lowest payroll in the NFL by far over the last 4 or 5 years. Then when the game does not sell out the people that paid for the stadium don't get to watch the game???? The Glazers must stop using the Culverhouse school of NFL team ownership, when the Bucs were the worst team in the league but Culverhouse was one of the most profitable owners. We cut Barrett Ruud to save money. Tell me he wouldn't be a huge upgrade over Hayes or Black. We cut Cadillac to save money. Tell me he wouldn't be a huge upgrade over Lumpkin. A competitive team needs good 2nd and 3rd string players too. We have very little depth. So come on Glazers, if you can't afford to put a competitive team on the field, sell the team to someone who can. The owners of the stadium deserve much better than you have been giving us since you purchased Manchester United.
  • avatar

    Thought Freeman threw the ball better than he has all year. Disagreed with both onside kick calls. As good as the packers offense is I dont take the chance of giving them a short field.Overall they looked much better, can they build on this?
  • avatar

    Look, this game had a little bit of everythinga. If you hate Morris, you don't have to look hard for ammunition against him. Personnally, I still like him. Didn't like 2nd onside kick. Didn't like Lewis on an island. But if Winslow makes an easy catch, it's a different game. The same issues we had before this game-bad WR's, bad LB's, Bad CB's, are still here. Today at least we played hard. Take away the 1st INT from Freeman, and I would say the WR's played hard all game. Talib showed up and played a little today. Was nice to see, but made me wish for a real #1 CB who came to play every day. Wish Winslow would play like the TE he thinks he is, but don't think that is possible at this stage. He is a mediocre TE. That's it. At the end of the day though, I like Morris, I like Dominick, I like Freeman, I like this team. We will get better. I am not jumping off this boat. And if Mike Lombardi knew anything, maybe he would still be working in the league. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    "They are not who we thought they were". Where is Dennis Green when we need some poetic repartee? We should have won this game. It is easy to judge the 2nd onside kick now, but if it had worked, we would be calling Morris a genius now. However, I do have the benefit of hindsight and I wish we hadn't done that. We had the momentum and time left on the clock, we had stopped Rodgers the previous 2 series - one can only wonder. I did like the way the team stepped up and played the game. I'm still in the boat - I've got my life vest on, but I'm still aboard the pirate ship. Go Bucs! As an aside, you heard it hear first, the Bears are going to beat the Packers!
  • avatar

    gahtadreem.... I am 100% with you on this. I can take this kind of loss. Yes mistakes were made. Freeman should have run on the one interception. He stared down Williams again it looked like to me. And K2, How long do you need to be in the NFL before you figure out you can not push off. That cost points. Yes this was a winable game. Just about everyone on here predicted this to be a blow out including ME. Well I was wrong. This was one Hell of a different team than we have been seeing!! And the call on Biggers in the end zone BS.What ever you did this week coach keep it up. This kind of hard work and effort will pay off. Go Bucs . Get Better. This was one HELL of and improvement and fun to watch.
  • avatar

    Good game and I agree that this was a much better performance. I got to believe now that Coach Morris realizes that Biggers and Lewis are not good enough to play in the NFL. Please activate A. Black before we lose him off the PS. Lets see what he can do. We have quite a ways to go before we can beat the big boys, but atleast they were not blown out. Go Bucs! Get Better!
  • avatar

    Man our defense stinks watching Lewis and Biggers out there remind of the good ol' days when I would watch such stellar players as Vito McKeever and Jeremiah Castille- its just plain embarrasing. Can you imagine if Barber retires and we lose Talib to prison how bad our secondary will be sigh and ughh!!!!
  • avatar

    @Pinkstob - You truly are a optimistic fan-lol The Bucs gave some fight but we are a pathetic team on defense and no real difference maker on offense we have a bunch of receivers who can catch the quick pass and the occasional slant. Benn had a nice catch down the field but he was well covered. We need some speed at receiver and RB and the defense needs an overhaul. My god we actually played Bowers today what a surprise!!
  • avatar

    That phantom pass interference penalty on K2 was a pathetic call and cost the team 4 points. Why does it always seem that the Falcon's and the Packer's opponents have to play against the team in stripes. I originally was a little surprised at the second on-sides kick; but consider the alternative. Kick off and have the Packers control the ball for the final four minutes anyway. It was worth a shot. It was a good plan poorly executed. The team came out and played inspired football in a difficult place. This may have been the best performance of the year in spite of the loss. Maybe this effort will show the youngsters what it takes.
  • avatar

    God...I absolutely despise you so called Bucs fans. You are 100% pathetic!! If you can't see the progress in that game you are blind. By your own admission you predicted we were NOT going to win that game and now when we didn't you act like you're disappointed we didn't??? What are you...double stupid or just searching for something to gripe about in your worthless little world's??? The Bucs played tough today and I have very few complaints. One of them would be directed at the officals and my second would be at the 2nd onside kick call but all in all it was soooooooo good to see the potential in that team finally manifest itself. I will agree that if we play like we did today we will win the remaining games on our schedule and finish 10-6 but we have to play with the effort we did today.
  • avatar

    saying we played tough and still losing is for losers. I am never proud of the fact we lost WE LOST BOTTOM LINE!!! I don't care about silver linings!
  • avatar

    The Complainers need to go back and look at the last 5 games.This was a much improved team today and we almost won. Were there lots of penalties and a few bad plays ? Definitely.BUt the Officiating was horrible. Blount had over a hundred yrds against the superbowl Champions. Freeman looked a lot better. Our Defense looked a lot better and you know what ? Hainsworth is already making that Defensive line legit.
  • avatar

    Did you actually give praise to Haynesworthless- hilarious what are you happy he had one tackle or something?
  • avatar

    morris gets one more year.olsen,jones,black, winslow have to go.jones hit one person early then dissappeared and shyed from contact rest of game, one td all on black, even hayes knew his assignment,winslow looks slow and is a little overrated and pouts like a four year old.olsen is brutal.refs are brutal last week too down 6, talib gets int rev.then winslows fantham facemask, back to emmanuel catch, the first lamb championship game in 79 the tight end td called back gilmore maybe .morris stays but needs get team more disciplined.biggest play today end of half josh should have ran probably could have gotten to where he threw it, had a timeout run it don't force it needs to take off and run more to indescive don't force throws they = turnovers those are on the qb not the wideouts
  • avatar

    Green Bay, better coaches, better scheme,better players, Pa Pa John's, better pizza!
  • avatar

    This game showed we have talents in this team. When the offense executes properly (run good routes, getting separations, no drops), it works. Welcome back Blount, Williams, Benn, Winslow ... !
  • avatar

    "P.S. The NFL referees ought to be ashamed of themselves for some of the flags they threw today...all season really." RIGHT ON Pinkstob !!!
  • avatar

    A pretty good battle, but penalties still killed us. Don't know if we keep on playing like this the rest of the year we may not lose another game, but if we had played like this all the games played so far, we would have a positive record, that's for sure ... Myron Lewis and EG Biggers have not the talent to compete in the NFL. Look for CB at the next draft ... Agree with all who think Black SUCKS BIG, BIG TIME !!! GO BUCS, Get Better !
  • avatar

    I normally praise Rah, but damn man, what is the deal? Literally, this loss is on you. For most of the game we played a zone coverage defense, which worked great. Then, in crunch time for the defense, we blitz almost every play. Therefore, leaving my least favorite players E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis one on one with Green Bays 3rd and 4th best receivers; getting beat or penalized nearly every pass attempt in their direction. Give them some help over the top Rah, Damn! Personally, I loved the first onside kick attempt, but the second? Again, come on Rah. Also, last but certainly not least; Quincy, man you suck. 2012 NFL DRAFT BABY!!! Morris Claiborne, is looking more and more like a possibility. GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar

    Not sure if we watched the same game, but the Bucs played predominantly man coverage for most of the day. Even Aikman commented on how much man coverage we played.
  • avatar

    I agree with the onside kicks ! you have nothing to loose at this point you have to go all out and play wreck less. Morris is a good young coach and will get better as long as they can cont. to bring in young and veteran players
  • avatar

    “If the Bucs play like this the rest of the year they may not lose another game.” pinkstob, That was a dazzling piece of delusional propaganda! Might I suggest you submit your résumé to the Buccaneers P.R. department?
  • avatar

    I'd also like to add I agree with the 2nd onside kick because I fully understand his thinking. It was a clock management decision. The Packers had been moving the ball all day. He figured if he kicked it off to them again they would slowly milk the clock down and the Bucs would never see the ball again. I saw Tomlin make the same call a year or two ago against the Packers in a similar situation and thought the same thing then. If you get the onside kick that's great. If you don't get it, you give them the ball at about the 50 yard line and they really can't milk over 4 minutes off the clock with only half a field to work with. The chances are much higher of getting the ball back and least once. If you can hold Green Bay to a field goal, that's all you need is one possesion to score a TD and win the game. It worked for the Steelers against the Packers then, it just didn't work for the Bucs today.
  • avatar

    P.S. The NFL referees ought to be ashamed of themselves for some of the flags they threw today...all season really.
  • avatar

    Great effort by the players today,but terrible decision by Morris on that 2nd onside kick. Can we please get on to next season already? Looking forward to 2012 draft.
  • avatar

    If the Bucs play like this the rest of the year they may not lose another game. This team was so well prepared for this game. I think Morris did his best coaching job of the year in preparing this team to play in the most hostile environment in the NFL. There were very few mistakes made and they all seemed to me to have been made by the players. M. Lewis and E. Biggers played as well as they could with the talent they have but they just don't have that much talent. Olsen called the same offense he always does but the players were playing so much harder and smarter on offense. The WR's and TE's ran the crispest, fastest routes I've seen all year (except M. Williams on Freemans first INT...it looked like you were jogging on that crossing route Williams). Morris smartly stayed in bump and run man coverage most of the game because Rodgers can beat any zone there is. All in all, I'm proud of the way this team played today. Keep it up Bucs!
  • avatar

    I can take that lose better then the others. Olson still must go
  • avatar

    I do not think in good conscience I can contribute any more hard earned funds to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if they choose to retain Coach Morris after this season. The baffling decisions and defensive calls in key situations in this game have convinced me he is neither competent enough nor worthy to guide an NFL team.
  • avatar

    That's a really rose-colored way of looking at it, Scott. Bottom line was we lost a game we had every chance to win through key personnel and coaching shortcomings.
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