An incredible start to Sunday’s showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost featured an ugly ending, but the Green Bay Packers were able to hang on and survive at Raymond James Stadium, using a late stop on a two-point conversion attempt to avoid overtime and escape with a 14-12 win over Tom Brady and the previously unbeaten Bucs.
The Packers, after another disappointing Week 1 start, have won two straight games and are trending in the right direction as September ends.
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from the Packers’ 14-12 win over the Buccaneers:
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He’s Bakh: The Packers rotated him in and out with Yosh Nijman, but David Bakhtiari made just his second start at left tackle since his debilitating knee injury at the end of the 2020 season and looked solid against a top pass-rush. He played 35 snaps (out of 63). With both Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins back in the lineup, the Packers offensive line suddenly looks championship-worthy again.
Nixon’s day: Reserve cornerback Keisean Nixon was the unexpected star of the contest. After Jaire Alexander went down, he played 57 snaps on defense, plus 16 more on special teams. He forced a fumble, helped create an incompletion on third down and downed a punt at the 2-yard line, while adding seven total tackles.
Rookie to the rescue: Fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs made his first NFL start and played 55 snaps. He caught all eight of his targets, scored his first NFL touchdown and created his third catch of at least 20 yards in as many games. The rookie looks like an emerging playmaker for an offense that needs one or two more in the passing game.
Pat O’Donnell and the Gunners: Rock band name or special teams wizards? O’Donnell had five punts downed inside the 20-yard line, thanks in large part to the work of Rudy Ford, Keisean Nixon and Shemar Jean-Charles.
First two drives on offense: The Packers gained 146 yards on 22 plays, converted five third downs and scored touchdowns on both red-zone opportunities. Aaron Rodgers hit eight different receivers. This was the fully realized Packers offense. But it just didn’t last.
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Turnovers: Aaron Jones fumbled near the goal line after being sandwiched by Vita Vea, squandering a scoring opportunity, and Aaron Rodgers threw a bad interception targeting Robert Tonyan near midfield. The Packers are fortunate that the two giveaways only resulted in three points for the Bucs. In three games, Green Bay already has five turnovers.
Final drive defense: After aggressively attacking the Bucs’ overmatched offense all afternoon, the Packers played passively on the final drive and allowed Tom Brady to drive 89 yards to score a touchdown and give the Bucs a chance to tie the game. Coverage breakdowns allowed easy catches for 17 yards and 10 yards to Leonard Fournette, and the Bucs took advantage of a pass interference penalty on Adrian Amos near the goal line.
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The offense after Jones’ fumble: Woof. The Packers gained 206 total yards on the first three drives on offense. After Jones fumbled to end the third drive, the Packers gained only 89 more yards, created three first downs, converted 1-of-10 third downs and scored zero points. Time after time, the Packers had chances to kill off the game with a scoring drive and failed. The final eight possessions (not including the kneel down): punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, punt. The fast start provided enough points to win on Sunday, but scoring 14 on the road is usually a good way to lose. The Packers didn’t have any answers once Todd Bowles adjusted.