Monday, December 22, 2014

Packers Easily Beat Bucs, 20-3, Clinch Playoff Spot

I had some concerns as I watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Buccaneers, which looked silly in hindsight. The Bucs were within one score for the entire first and third quarters, and I wanted at least a two score cushion. But in the end, the defense was so dominant that I shouldn't have had any concerns. It might not have felt like a great win, but they won by 17 points on the road and clinched a playoff spot. That makes it a good game.
QB Aaron Rodgers, who had been battling the flu all week, pulled a calf muscle early in the game, though he expects to play next Sunday. It looked like he had injured his foot or ankle, the trainers were adding some cushion to his shoe and he didn't record a single carry for the game. He usually converts at least one first down with a scramble per game, so his inability to run might have stalled some drives. RB Eddie Lacy didn't play in the fourth quarter due to cramps, but that shouldn't be a concern for next week.

The penalties and dropped passes weren't as big a problem as they were last week in Buffalo, but WR Davante Adams dropped at least two more passes and at least one drive was stalled by a penalty (an iffy holding penalty on C Corey Lindsey wiped out a 20+ yard run by Lacy). But WR Jordy Nelson was perfect, he caught all 9 passes thrown his way with multiple 3rd down conversions and a touchdown, which was big for him after he dropped that likely 90+ yard touchdown pass in Buffalo.

It wasn't the best game for the offense, but the Packer defense was in complete charge. To end the first half, the Bucs went on a 56 yard drive for a field goal, and they only had 53 yards of offense for the rest of the game. The pass rush on QB Josh McCown was brutal and they didn't get anything going in the running game to slow the rush down. The Bucs offense is bad, but they were averaging over 300 yards of offense and 18 points per game before they faced the Packers. The defense has had some dominant performances earlier in the season against bad quarterbacks, they were pretty good last week in Buffalo too, but this was their best game of the season in every aspect.

The defense has been inconsistent all season (everything was doom and gloom after they got torched by the Falcons) and this is just another curve on the roller coaster. They could go back to their bad ways as soon as next week against the Lions.

Bottom line, the Packers took care of business in Tampa and set themselves up to win the NFC North and the No. 2 seed with a win next week against the Lions.

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