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Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' loss to Buccaneers

Defensive struggles put Green Bay on two-game losing streak at wrong time of year

Green Bay Packers WR Dontayvion Wicks
Green Bay Packers WR Dontayvion Wicks

GREEN BAY – The Packers lost their second straight game, 34-20 to the Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, dropping to 6-8 on the season.

Here are five takeaways from the defeat:

  1. The Packers couldn't stop Bucs QB Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield became the first opposing quarterback in the history of Lambeau Field to post a maximum 158.3 passer rating as he tore apart Green Bay's pass defense to the tune of 22-for-28, 381 yards and four touchdowns.

"Baker went out and shredded us," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "It's disappointing, obviously, because we sacked him five times and ultimately that still wasn't enough."

Not even close. A strip-sack by edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare deep in Tampa Bay territory set up the Packers' first score, but that was about all the resistance Green Bay could muster.

Aside from that and a three-and-out in the second quarter, the Bucs' other six possessions produced four TDs and two field goals, including three straight touchdowns after halftime that stretched out the score. Tampa Bay then killed the final 4:18 on the clock, sliding down in the red zone rather than scoring again.

Mayfield came within 16 yards of his personal career best of 397 passing yards, with Chris Godwin accounting for 10 receptions for 155 yards. Four different players caught TDs for the Bucs, who quickly re-established a two-score lead twice in the second half right after the Packers had cut the deficit to one score.

  1. The high number of explosive plays, breakdowns in long-yardage situations and lack of even forcing any contested catches was alarming.

In short, it was all too easy for the Buccaneers (7-7) and Mayfield.

They produced a dozen gains of at least 18 yards, converted 7-of-11 third downs and were mostly running free in the secondary all game.

"It's all concerning, right, when it looks like there's some confusion going on back there," LaFleur said. "You've got to be so coordinated and so in tune, really on all three levels. Every guy plays off one another and when there's any type of miscommunication, you get gashed and that's what happened."

Mayfield hit Mike Evans for a 19-yard TD on third-and-6, Godwin for 24 yards on second-and-29 to get a field goal late in the second quarter, Godwin for 15 yards on a third-and-12 screen two plays before a 26-yard TD pass to running back Rachaad White, Godwin for 21 yards on second-and-18, and David Moore for a backbreaking 52-yard catch-and-run TD on third-and-4 with 6½ minutes left that closed out the scoring.

Asked whether defensive coordinator Joe Barry needed to alter his approach with coverage calls, most of which were zones behind four-man rushes, LaFleur said "hindsight's 20-20."

"You've got to be willing to challenge, especially if you're getting gashed, just changing it up," he said.

  1. LaFleur responded to a question about possibly changing defensive coordinators by focusing on the film review and finding answers.

"Right now, we're looking for solutions," LaFleur said. "So I want to go back to it. As soon as we leave here, I'm going to go right into my office and get to work on that.

"It's extremely disappointing to have a home game against a team that's right in the thick of it in their division when you're holding onto one of those (playoff) spots, and you get manhandled in the second half of a tight ball game."

The overall letdown compared to where the Packers were just seven days ago is sobering and hard to escape. They've lost their last two games to a pair of sub-.500 clubs after putting together three straight wins, including two over first-place teams, to give themselves a chance in a crowded NFC field.

Now that chance has gotten much slimmer.

"They're beating us. They're outcoaching us, they're out-scheming us and outplaying us, ultimately," LaFleur said of the last two opponents.

"We haven't found solutions that are good enough in particular in a game of this magnitude. Because we all know what's at stake at this time of the year. I'm proud of the guys in terms our ability to fight our way back into this thing but obviously very disappointed with the outcomes of the last two weeks."

  1. The offense was productive but under too much pressure to score every time.

QB Jordan Love was 29-of-39 for 284 yards with two TDs and a 111.5 passer rating, including an impressive 17-yard scrambling TD pass to rookie receiver Jayden Reed on a third-and-long that broke down.

But going three-and-out to start the second half, and settling for a field goal early in the fourth quarter to only get within 27-20, were the minimal openings the Buccaneers needed to put the game away.

If there was a bright spot or two, it was the play of running back Aaron Jones and rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks.

Jones returned from a three-game absence to post 13 carries for 53 yards, plus four receptions for 16 more. He dominated the first drive with eight carries for 44 yards, but LaFleur regretted not giving him more work in the second half with the game still in reach.

"I think a lot of guys wouldn't even been out there today, quite honestly," LaFleur said, referring to Jones' knee injury. "He means a lot to this football team, this football team means a lot to him.

"It was good to see him out there. I think he did give us a boost, no doubt about it, just his presence on the field."

Wicks was questionable all week due to an ankle injury from last Monday night and set a career high with 97 yards on six receptions.

"That's what you want, you want guys to go out there and battle," Love said. "It's not easy playing when you're injured, when you're banged up. It just shows how much these guys care."

  1. It's truly backs-against-the-wall time.

Any hope of the playoffs almost certainly requires winning out at this point. The Packers aren't giving up, but their play the last two games brings into question whether they can regroup soon enough to put together the winning streak needed.

At 6-8, Green Bay is just one game out of the last two NFC wild-card spots, but there are a total of six teams at either 7-7 or 6-8 in the mix for those two playoff berths.

"All I know is this: We've got three weeks left. We've got three games and every game is a playoff mentality," LaFleur said. "Who knows what will happen? But we can't get it all back at once, you've got to earn it every day. You've got to get back to practice and just give it our best shot from here on out."

Added Love: "It's the same thing we've talked about in the weeks before. We've got to win every game.

"Been a lot of adversity. It's all about how we finish the season at this point, with these three games that we've got."


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