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Frustrations all around for Packers in first loss

Early deficit for Buccaneers meant nothing


The early 10-point lead turned out to be an aberration, and the Packers knew it.

The Buccaneers dominated from the second quarter on to post a convincing 38-10 triumph over the Packers at Raymond James Stadium and hand Green Bay its first loss of the season Sunday.

"Obviously that was a pretty frustrating day today," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "Got outcoached, got outplayed. Gotta give the Bucs all the credit in the world. They had a good game plan and really took is to us."

Even with scores on the first two possessions for a 10-0 lead, the Packers didn't exactly feel good. The offense wasn't in rhythm and was succeeding with off-schedule, extended plays.

Then quarterback Aaron Rodgers did what he almost never does – throw a pick-six. He said he missed his spot on a third-down sideline out to Davante Adams by about a foot to the inside.

Sitting on the short route, cornerback Jamel Dean snagged it and ran 32 yards untouched for just the third pick-six of Rodgers' career (and second at Tampa Bay, strangely enough).

"That (stuff) happens," Rodgers said. "I haven't had a lot of those over the years."

He hasn't thrown interceptions on back-to-back possessions very often, either, but that happened, too. A third-down slant for Adams was deflected into the air by cornerback Carlton Davis, picked by safety Mike Edwards, and returned 37 yards to the Green Bay 2-yard line.

The Packers had suddenly turned it over twice in a span of three snaps when they hadn't had a turnover in the season's first four games. One play later it was 14-10 Tampa Bay, and the mirage of an early lead had vanished in less than two minutes.

LaFleur blamed himself for the second interception, saying he should have called a timeout because the Packers were in a bunch formation when they should have been more spread out.

That was just one of many mistakes, and anytime the Packers made one, the Bucs made them pay.

"It definitely swung the momentum in their favor," LaFleur said. "That was a significant part of the game."

When Rodgers missed a wide-open Marcedes Lewis on Green Bay's next drive – another throw, like the interception to Adams, he wondered about the effect of a stiff crosswind – there seemed little hope for anything to turn around. It was 28-10 by halftime and 31-10 in the opening moments of the third quarter.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 6 matchup on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.

Constantly under pressure and sacked four times before being pulled with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, Rodgers wound up with a 35.4 passer rating (16-of-35, 160 yards, two INTs), the second-worst in his career when he played all or most of the game.

"It's definitely a frustrating deal, when they bring pressure and you don't have answers for it and can't beat it," LaFleur said.

"That pressure was real, man. I don't think we blocked it very well, and I don't think we had a great answer from a schematic standpoint."

LaFleur also took the blame for the offense not getting in and out of the huddle efficiently, and repeatedly running the play clock all the way down. Rodgers called it a "lethargic" performance offensively, coming off a poor week of practice, with his and everyone else's timing disrupted pretty much all game.

And there was no rally to be had, especially not after All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari left the game with a chest injury. The postgame hope was Bakhtiari would be OK.

"You can't have three-and-outs, you can't have negative-yardage plays and you can't turn the ball over. That's how you stem the tide," Rodgers said. "We could feel it. It was 10-0 and it didn't feel like we were dominating the game.

"We didn't get a chance to get us back to where we were feeling good about the game."

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady didn't do anything spectacular (17-of-26, 166 yards, two TDs, 104.9 rating), but he didn't have any miscues. He fired a pinpoint fade to tight end Rob Gronkowski (five catches, 78 yards) for a score, and he wasn't sacked.

The Packers struggled to stop the run, allowing 158 yards on the ground, including 113 and two TDs by Ronald Jones on 23 carries.

Like the offense, the defense did little right after the first quarter, losing safety Darnell Savage (quad) and nose tackle Tyler Lancaster (shoulder) along the way.

The loss has the Packers, at 4-1, looking up in the NFC North standings for the first time this season at the 5-1 Bears, who had beaten this same Bucs team a week ago Thursday.

Tampa Bay and Brady, who didn't perform well then and made an uncharacteristic mental gaffe at the end of the defeat, came back with a vengeance 10 days later.

The Packers have only seven days, with a trip to Houston on deck next Sunday, to do the same.

"We'll find out what we're all about," LaFleur said. "But we have to hit that reset button and bounce back. It starts by looking at the film critically, everybody looking inward, staying together and learning from this.

"Because this is not fun. It was a pretty frustrating night."