Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooks leads Bucs past Packers 30-21


There was no shortage of throat lumps for the Buccaneers on Sunday. Wet eyes and hearts heavy as anvils were in abundant supply. ¶ So with sentiments stirring after kicker Matt Bryant returned to work one day after burying his 3-month-old son, a team tends to rely on its emotional leader. ¶ Derrick Brooks did not disappoint. ¶ At 35 and still hobbled by a hamstring strain, the Bucs linebacker took over the game and steadied the season. ¶ Brooks had one of three interceptions of the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and forced a fumble that Jermaine Phillips returned 38 yards for a touchdown. The result was a 30-21 victory that saw Bryant kick three field goals, including a 24-yarder that put the Bucs ahead with 2:26 remaining in the game.

"I know it's still in me," Brooks said. "I've still got a lot of football left in me contrary to what some believe. I just put it on tape. I don't discuss it. I don't get into a debate. I put my evidence on tape, and again, (Sunday) was a time when I had an opportunity to put something on tape to change some critics' minds.

"And hopefully I did."

Rodgers, who also was sacked three times, completed 14 of 27 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns to Greg Jennings. But he injured his right (throwing) shoulder during a scramble in the fourth quarter and left the game for one series.

By the time he returned, Bryant had given the Bucs a 23-21 lead. Then Rodgers was hit by Greg White as he attempted a pass on second down, and Gaines Adams intercepted it, ending Green Bay's comeback hopes.

Even in his 14th season, Brooks proved he is capable of being the best player on the field when his team needs him most.

"There's a reason why he's going to Canton (and the Hall of Fame)," Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan said. "He played one of his better games. A forced fumble, a pick, he could've had two more picks. He was all over the place."

So was the whole Bucs defense, for that matter.

Tampa Bay shut down running back Ryan Grant, holding him to 20 yards on 15 carries. Then they got after Rodgers, disguising coverage and flushing him out of the pocket.

Prior to Sunday, Rodger was one of only three quarterbacks who had not thrown an interception this season. A streak of 157 attempts without one dating to 2005 ended on the first play of the second quarter. A pass intended for Brandon Jackson deflected off the running back's hands right to Brooks.

Six plays later, the Bucs tied the score at 7 on Brian Griese's 9-yard pass to Alex Smith.

"He's still a rookie," Hovan said of Rodgers. "Three years (as a backup) at Green Bay doesn't surmount to playing any football games. He's still a rookie. We knew we had to get to him."

Midway through the third quarter, Brooks put his helmet on the football, forcing Grant to fumble. Phillips scooped it up and scored the Bucs' third defensive touchdown in four games to build their lead to 20-7.

The Bucs took advantage of all four Packers turnovers, leading to 24 of their 30 points.

It's a good thing, too.

Griese nearly threw the game away, getting intercepted three times in the second half — including one that Charles Woodson returned 62 yards for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 21-20 lead 1:17 into the fourth quarter.

"At the end of the day, it's about winning," Brooks said. "We're not looking for style points when it comes to a W. We're looking for the W."

As his career winds down, Brooks has had to make some adjustments. He has been taken out of the game on some passing downs in favor of fellow linebacker Cato June. And the injuries seem to take longer to heal.

But the more emotional the game, the better Brooks seems to play.

"We had a long discussion this week with Derrick," coach Jon Gruden said. "We know he's been nursing and working through a tough injury. What he played like (Sunday) was the Derrick Brooks that everybody recognizes. He made plays sideline to sideline, caused a couple of turnovers.

"There's a lot of strength left in Derrick Brooks."

At times such as these, Brooks' shoulder pads seem to be big enough for a whole franchise to lean on. Emotion is what fueled the Bucs on Sunday — the love for a teammate and the profound sadness over the loss of Bryant's infant son, Tryson.

"I just think the handshakes and the hugs and the 'I love you,' is pretty much all we can do," Brooks said of Bryant. "It's a situation (where) you just lean on your faith in God and know God's perfect plan is always in place. And we just showed him the love as a team; to give him the space he needed. But also when he came around, we gave him the love he needs.

"Going out there and being perfect every time he hit the field is a real testament. The healing process is going to be long. And as a team, we just can be supportive of him."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud

Three picks? Not a problem

Brian Griese won a game for the Bucs despite throwing three interceptions … for the third time. Since 2003, Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Brad Johnson lost every time they threw three:

Date QuarterbackOpponentResult

Sunday Griese Packers30-21 W

Sept. 21, 2008 Griese at Bears27-24 W

Oct. 28, 2007 Garcia Jaguars24-23 L

Dec. 3, 2006Gradkowskiat Steelers14-3 L

Sept. 17, 2006 Simms at Falcons27-0 L

Sept. 10, 2006 SimmsRavens20-3 L

Oct. 2, 2005 Griese Lions17-13 W

Dec. 12, 2004 Griese at Chargers31-24 L

Dec. 28, 2003 Johnson at Titans33-13 L

Dec. 20, 2003 Johnson Falcons30-28 L

Oct. 19, 2003 Johnson at 49ers24-7 L

Griese continues to go down

The quarterback ratings for the Bucs' quarterbacks this season:

Date QuarterbackOpponentRating

Sept. 7 Jeff Garcia at Saints71.3

Sept. 14 Brian Griese Falcons82.7

Sept. 21 Brian Griese at Bears66.0

Sunday Brian Griese Packers36.0

Brooks leads Bucs past Packers 30-21 09/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant in 10-inning victory

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh and working eight strong innings overall in a 4-2 10-inning victory over the Pirates.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better as the season goes on, which could make the Rays' decision whether to trade the free-agent-to-be tougher and tougher. He was efficient and effective, rolling through six no-hit innings and eight total.

  3. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Rays sign first-round pick Brendan McKay to record bonus

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Determining whether top draft pick Brendan McKay will be more productive as a pitcher or a hitter or can handle the demands of doing both professionally will be a long endeavor that could take years.

    Louisville pitcher Brendan McKay  connects for a grand slam home run during the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament against Notre Dame in May in Louisville, Ky. [Timothy D. Easley/ via AP]