Toughness. That’s what the Green Bay Packers’ defense displayed in a 14-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oh, you thought this post would be peppered with praise for Green Bay’s offense? Ha!
Green Bay’s offense got off to a hot start. Aaron Rodgers was getting rid of the ball quickly, kept the chains moving and quickly put 14 points on the board by the second quarter. (See what a healthy offensive line will do for you?) I predicted on Quick TO:SS this would be a physical, low-scoring ballgame. But, given the way the offense was moving the ball against Tampa’s stout defense, I believe that wouldn’t be the case. Then, Vita Vea happened.
The Packers were driving the ball down the field with ease. They were on the cusp of going up 17-3 or 21-3 (potentially) late in the second quarter. Rodgers gets the ball to Aaron Jones, who gets to Tampa’s 2-yard line. Vita Vea, who had dropped into coverage, lays a hit on Jones, causing a fumble, which the Buccaneers recovered.
Akin to rookie wide receiver Christian Watson’s drop of a potential 75-yard TD in the season opener, the offense deflated. Yes, Tampa Bay tightened the screws a bit after the fumble recovery and throughout the second half, but this offense was not the same after the fumble by Jones.
While the offense wavered, the defense did not. They were determined to take the next step to consistent dominance. Dominance they flashed against the Bears, needed to be on full display for 60 minutes to come out with a victory.
The pressure was constant on Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. Packers pressure got home for 3 sacks. (Kenny Clark 2, Rashan 1) Tampa’s running was stifled all afternoon. Green Bay only allowed 34 rushing yards. (A far cry from the 180 yards allowed to Chicago last week.) The tackling was sound, lead by All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell’s 14.
Speaking of Campbell, he epitomized what I mean by all 60 minutes. It was his leap and knockdown of Brady’s pass on a 2-point conversion attempt, that foiled their plans of tying the game, thus sealing the victory for Green Bay.
This was a great victory by the Packers. A victory to set the foundation on what this team can be. A victory to build upon. It’s up to them to continue the work and to not squander a season building victory such as this.