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Inbox: He was a big-time factor

It would’ve been a shame to let that game get away

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CB Keisean Nixon

Anthony from Jamestown, ND

It's good the team got the win, better the defense showed glimpses of its capabilities, best the special teams was a weapon rather than a reliability.

Well put. That's all that needs to be said today. OK, maybe not. I've got a long flight. Let's go.

Dale from Palmyra, NE

Never ceases to amaze me how an offense can dominate on the first two drives then just disappear the rest of the game. Has to be very frustrating for the players.

For everyone involved. It was three drives, really, until Jones fumbled. Then it felt like everything went poof. Tampa Bay's defense is good, turned things around after a slow start, and the Packers didn't have a response. It's why you have to win as a team.

Matt from Chesterfield, MI

This was reminiscent of the SF playoff game. The offense looked good until a fumble, then the opposing defense shut us down. Only this time the special teams and defense pulled off the win. What a game!

The margin for error got thinner and thinner as the game wore on. Or, more accurately, the Packers never did what was needed to increase their margin. Either way, that's life in the NFL at its most typical.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Mike, THIS is the defense I was hoping to cheer for! They stepped up and won a brutally physical playoff-type game on the road against a great, great QB. Other than their physicality, I loved the reckless abandon of Savage laying out on the two-point conversion. He would have made the play even if Campbell did not. Did this defense just set the bar for the rest of the season?

It played up to its standard against a banged-up Bucs offense. It would've been a shame to let that game get away, and we all know what that feels like. The defense shouldn't have had to stop a last-ditch drive like that, but it had two chances – stop the possession, or the conversion. It doesn't matter which one.

Mark from Eau Claire, WI

Three games in, the Packers' defense is allowing an average of 15 points per game. Is that sustainable?

As I've said before, it's difficult to play great defense week after week in an offense-oriented league. Tampa Bay's unit is outstanding, and it was one yard away from giving up 21 points in the first 28 minutes. One week at a time, one opponent at a time. It's a tired cliché because it's so true.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Meanwhile, in the other locker room – Tom Brady is one frustrated guy. I'm sure he firmly believed this was a winnable game for the Bucs. He has to be let down by his own team's costly turnovers and penalties.

The turnovers pretty much evened out. The botched trick play from midfield that lost 12 yards was the most costly miscue until they somehow didn't have a two-point play ready and took a delay of game. That was absolutely stunning.

Patrick from Lakewood, IL

Were you surprised David Bakhtiari was used on a rotational basis? I thought the expectation was he would be active when he could go the entire game since anything less would be disruptive to the timing on the OL.

I didn't expect it, but given the weather conditions and the fact that he hadn't played a full game since Dec. 2020, it made sense. Players don't necessarily like rotations, but LaFleur mentioned doing that once in Houston when he was there and it worked out, so he wanted to give it a try, rather than take a larger risk with Bakhtiari or hold him out another week.

Tom from Iron River, WI

When are we going to see the Packers put a full game together?

There are at least 14 more. They've got time. Just keep winning as many as you can until you get there.

Janet from Auburn, WA

I still like following former Packers who are playing for other teams. It was really sad hearing that Micah Hyde will be missing the rest of the season because of a neck injury. I hope this doesn't affect his career like so many other neck injuries have to other players.

I'm with you on all counts. Speaking of the Bills, did you see the stats from their game in Miami? Total yards 497-212, first downs 31-15, third-down conversions 11-3, offensive snaps 90-39. Turnovers just minus-1. How on earth does Buffalo lose? Remarkable.

Steve from Cedar Falls, IA

Doubs – I think 12 is starting to trust him!

To be honest, he doesn't have much choice. But Romeo Doubs came through. One more catch and he would've tied the team rookie record for one game, Max McGee's nine receptions back in 1954.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Snapshots from the Tampa pep rally: 1.) Wes and Spoff are kind, gracious, and smart humans, exactly as Inboxers might hope. 2.) Slick behind-the-back pass of the mic by Wes. 3.) Spoff praises the Lions; PA immediately blows. 4.) Jet-skiing to a party is the FL equivalent of snowmobiling. 5.) Nick Collins is still fit enough to play. 6.) Met poster Dennis from Parrish and readers Robert (WA), Jessica (IA), Kurt (Tampa), Griff (NY), and many others. What a fun community! 7.) Wes is a fine hugger.

It was a blast meeting so many of you at Whiskey Joe's on Saturday night, and I don't want to leave anybody out so I'm not going to list names. Thanks to all for an awesome turnout. Sorry I killed the sound system, but it actually just gave us more time to chat with folks. Had a blast.

Gavin from Albuquerque, NM

Not exactly what I expected, but I'll take the W. The D looked good and the O did enough against a great opposing D. Was that the heat getting to Lazard or was he playing sick?

I'm guessing the former. He stuck with it all the way to the end and recovered the onside kick.

Mike from Verona, WI

No air conditioning in the TB visitors locker room? Seems unbelievable for such conditions. What are the worst locker rooms you've experienced in the current NFL stadiums?

Hey, when the Packers lost down there in '08 or '09 (can't remember which) a pipe burst, flooded the locker room pregame, and forced a bunch of guys to get dressed out in the hallway. Such fun.

Dean from Ottawa, IL

The last Tampa Bay drive we were playing really soft and Tampa walked down the field for a touchdown. Your thoughts please on playing that soft?

I'm going to sound like a coach and say I need to look at the film, but I can understand when you've got 89 yards to defend, you don't want to get burned for a big chunk. I think the biggest letdowns were when Fournette was all alone in the flat twice and nobody seemed responsible for him. He gained 27 yards on two easy catches.

Ken from Oceanport, NJ

Terrible running game today. What are your thoughts about putting Elgton Jenkins back at LG when Bakhtiari can go full 60 and putting Nijman at RT with Runyan at RG? Also, Dillon needs a head of steam to get going. Disappointing so far.

The Packers rushed for 67 yards and the Bucs had 34, so you take that as getting the better of the tough sledding out there against these defenses. As much of a struggle as it was, the Packers didn't abandon the run. They kept the Bucs honest all game and Rodgers stayed pretty upright back there. As for your O-line shuffle, Adam Stenavich made a comment to the media in training camp that Nijman didn't transition smoothly to right tackle when they tried it, so I think they're sticking with what we saw yesterday.

Winston from Mukilteo, WA

In years past I had the good fortune to be on the sidelines for many NFL games (before the league severely limited access), and the sheer speed and brut physicality is NOTHING like you see on TV. I distinctly recall a pass coming to my area I was certain was way overthrown. I heard rapid exhaling of two men in an all-out sprint, and then felt the ground pulse as their footsteps drew near. They both dove and the pass went off the fingertips for the most exhilarating incomplete pass of my life.

I watched an entire Wisconsin Badgers game from the Camp Randall sideline once, many moons ago. The first time I stood on the Lambeau Field sideline during the action, for just a few minutes, I learned the NFL is a completely different game.

Brian from Reno, NV

The offense sputtered against a good defense again but defense and special teams win a game for us! The biggest special-teams mistake was a bad call in the end zone that cost us 30-plus yards. Turnovers cost us momentum but not the game. I could get used to this because the offense will come around with time.

That was pretty much the gist of my postgame editorial.

Jim from Stevens Point, WI

On the running into the kicker penalty play, is that reviewable?

Negatory. I believe the only penalty that's reviewable is 12 men on the field. Maybe there's another one, but it's a short list.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

Why does Mike feel that James Harrison isn't a first-ballot HOF guy? Over 15 years, he had 573 solo tackles, 220 assists, 84.5 sacks, nine fumble recoveries and eight interceptions. He was selected to play in five Pro Bowls. He won one Defensive Player of the Year award and two championships. And let's not forget the longest pick-6 in Super Bowl history. How is this not the resume of a first-ballot guy?

I do believe Harrison will get into the Hall of Fame. He's a great story, had an impressive career and is deserving. But two first-team All-Pro selections and two second-team with only three double-digit sack seasons is not a first-ballot pass rusher. Sorry, it's just not.

Dale from Kettering, OH

Let me be the 100th to ask, what's that big shot clock in the end zone for again?

The NFL could so easily go to the light-up NBA-style shot clock and do away with this antiquated process and inevitable controversy. But we're going on 15 years to figure out what a catch is, so I'm not holding my breath.

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

Wow, the defense held TB12 and his offense to 285 yards, only 34 on the ground, 2-11 on third down and Pat O'Donnell had 5 of 7 punts inside the 20. Defense and special teams came up big. Great win in Florida in September. But I'd just as soon not face that defense again. Arguably the two greatest QBs in history and only 26 total points scored.

Neither team was at full strength offensively, so it could always be different in a potential rematch. But the Packers mitigated the one significant in-game injury to Alexander thanks to some quality work by Nixon.

Greg from Marquette, MI

What a game for Keisean Nixon, our new utility player. Helped with multiple big-time plays.

He was a big-time factor and still handled all his special-teams duties, too. Quite the workout for him in that heat.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Mike, thanks for burning the candle at both ends. It looked like the 12th man showed up. Was there a lot of green and gold at the stadium yesterday?

For sure, and they made themselves heard. The 69,197 attendance figure was a Buccaneers record for a home regular-season game.

Emma from Davenport, FL

The cannons were very quiet today …

And it took an incredible catch by Gage to set them off. I'm still in awe of that grab.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

(*Whistle of appreciation*) Just saw a slow-mo replay of De'Vondre Campbell's leap on the two-point conversion attempt. Impressive jump and perfectly timed to get his hand on the ball as it flew overhead. Dude's earning his keep.

You can't coach 6-4. The Packers' size at the inside linebacker position has made this a different defense over the last two years. I firmly believe that.

Phil from Portland, OR

This week's game had the same vibes as the playoff game last year. Luckily the outcome was better, but after a hot start, a turnover seemed to take all the air out of the offense. Is it attitude, the play calling, or something else?

If it were just one thing and the Packers knew what it was, they'd work through it. I thought LaFleur was trying just about everything without resorting to desperation. The Bucs didn't miss a single tackle on a short pass. They were stopping the run without loading the box. They were picking their spots to send an extra rusher. Rodgers' explanation after the game of how Winfree got knocked off his route late (two plays after the diving Lazard catch) was exactly the kind of miscue that's been holding the offense back. Making that play would've erased some ills, and a lot of drama.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

Three weeks into the season and there are only two teams without a win and three teams without a loss (maybe just two after Monday). Call it an ugly win all you like but it's hard to win and everyone loses eventually. What team is surprising you most after three weeks? For me, it's a toss-up between the Raiders and the Jaguars.

Definitely the Jaguars. The Raiders have had a tough schedule, but you've got to find a way at some point.

Dave from Overland Park, KS

What a game. It's apparent that there are no easy games on anyone's schedule. It would not surprise me to see a lot of nine- and 10-win teams in the playoffs. It will come down to defenses winning games. Your thoughts?

It'll come down to who makes the plays at winning time, also known as crunch time, on whichever side of the ball. That's what this league is.

Ken from New York, NY

Both teams had their woulda coulda shoulda moments, so I'm just happy we came out with the win.

That's called a healthy perspective.

Jackson from Wausau, WI

Just win, baby!

Happy Monday.

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