Jamel Dean’s interception return for a touchdown sparked a 38-point surge as the Bucs stomped the previously unbeaten Packers 38-10 Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Dean jumped an out route early in the second quarter and returned Aaron Rodgers' pass 32 yards for a touchdown.
A Mike Edwards interception two passes later took the ball to the Green Bay 2, helping Tampa Bay (4-2) turn an early 10-point deficit into a four-point lead.
The Bucs' defense was relentless, sacking Rodgers five times — two more than Green Bay (4-1) had allowed in the first four games combined.
Linebackers Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul led the way with 1-1/2 sacks each. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and linebacker Devin White had one apiece.
Running back Ronald Jones rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Ke’Shawn Vaughn added 42 yards on five carries in mop-up duty.
Quarterback Tom Brady completed 17 of 27 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski had his biggest day as a Buc, pulling in five passes for a team-high 78 receiving yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Chris Godwin, back after missing two games with a hamstring injury, had five receptions for 48 yards.
Taking a seat
Both Tom Brady ad Aaron Rodgers were out of the game by the halfway point of the fourth quarter.
Brady, 17-of-27 for 166 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, was relieved by Blaine Gabbert.
Rodgers was replaced by Tim Boyle after going 16-of-35 for 160 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
Bucs running freely
Ronald Jones' second touchdown run gave the Bucs a 38-10 lead over the Packers with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
A pass interference call on Josh Jackson against Scotty Miller in the end zone on third and 12 resulted in a 40-yard penalty that gave Tampa Bay the ball at the Green Bay 2.
A too many men on the field penalty against the Packers moved it up to the 1.
Two plays later, Jones ran up the middle for a one-yard touchdown.
Earlier in the drive, Jones ran for 25 yards around right end to move the ball to the Packers 40.
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Roughing up Rodgers
The Packers' offensive line allowed a combined three sacks over the first four games of the season.
The Bucs put quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the ground just as many times before the third quarter even reached the halfway point.
Linebacker Lavonte David had 1-1/2 sacks, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh one and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul 1/2.
Bucs go up 31-10 on Succop field goal
Ryan Succop’s season-long 50-yard field goal extends the Bucs' lead over the Packers to 31-10 early in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay drove 43 yards on six plays on their opening possession of the second half.
Tom Brady’s 31-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski to the Green Bay 40 was the big play on the drive.
Gronk gives Tampa Bay a 28-10 halftime lead
Not content with an 11-point second-quarter lead, the Bucs drove 62 yards in just over a minute and a half to take a commanding 28-10 lead heading into halftime.
Tom Brady’s 12-yard pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the back left corner of the end zone with 1:02 left in the half capped a 28-point quarter for Tampa Bay.
Brady was 4-for-4 for 48 yards on the drive. A 25-yard completion to Chris Godwin moved the ball to the Green Bay 16.
Ronald Jones ran four times for 14 yards, including an 11-yard run up the middle.
Bucs go up 11 on Johnson TD reception
Tom Brady’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson gave the Bucs a 21-10 lead over the Packers with 4:35 left in the first half.
Brady, working out of the shotgun, fielded a low snap, stepped up in the pocket and found Johnson, who had beaten one-on-one coverage from Josh Jackson, near the back left pylon.
The pass capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive that ate up 6:05 of the second-quarter clock.
The drive was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty against Rashan Gary after a six-yard reception by Chris Godwin, resulting in a 21-yard gain to the Green Bay 24.
Picks pick up Tampa Bay
Two interceptions over a span of three pass plays helped the Bucs turn a 10-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Three plays after Jamel Dean returned an Aaron Rodgers interception for a touchdown, Mike Edwards picked off a Rodgers pass in Green Bay territory and ran it back to the Packers 2.
Ronald Jones picked up the two yards off left tackle on the next play to give Tampa Bay a 14-10 lead less than four minutes into the second quarter.
Carlton Davis tipped Rodgers' pass for Davante Adams on a slant pattern into the hands of Edwards, who had just replaced injured Antoine Winfield Jr.
The interception was the second thrown by Rodgers in three plays after he had gone 157 attempts without one.
Pick-six puts Tampa Bay on the board
The Bucs got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Jamel Dean picked off an Aaron Rodgers pass and returned it for a touchdown, trimming Tampa Bay’s deficit to 10-7.
Dean sitting on an out route, stepped in front of wide receiver Davante Adams, intercepted the pass and raced untouched 32 yards down the right sideline for the score.
The interception ended Rodgers' streak of 157 pass attempts without one, which had been the longest active streak in the NFL.
First sign of frustration
Frustrated Tom Brady made his first appearance early in the second quarter, after a third-down pass near midfield went incomplete.
The Bucs had driven 30 yards from their 18 to their 48 when Brady’s pass for Chris Godwin on third and five was well wide of the mark.
Brady shouted something as he left the field. It was unclear whether he was upset with Godwin’s route or if he thought Godwin had been held on the play.
Making matters worse, Bradley Pinion’s punt covered only 30 yards, giving the Packers the ball at their 22.
Packers go up 10-0 on Aaron Jones run
Aaron Jones ran one yard up the middle to give the Packers a 10-0 lead over the Bucs late in the first quarter.
Aaron Rodgers ran six yards around right end for what appeared to be a touchdown in the final minute of the quarter, but replay review brought the ball back to the 1. Jones scored on the next play.
Green Bay drove to the Tampa Bay 13 before a holding penalty against Elgton Jenkins pushed the Packers back to the 21. But Rodgers made up the yardage two plays later when he found Darrius Shepherd for a 16-yard gain to the 7.
Jamaal Williams ran 25 yards off right guard to the Bucs' 21 to set up the score.
Rodgers completed passes of 15 yards to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 13 to Davante Adams and 11 to Robert Tonyan on the drive.
Bucs conservative on opening drive
The Bucs quietly went three-and-out on their first possession — without trying to get a ball to their wide receivers.
To call the Bucs conservative on their first drive might be an understatement.
Running back Ronald Jones gained two yards off right guard on first down, and Tom Brady connected with Jones for a six-yard pass play on second down.
On third-and-2 at the Tampa Bay 33, Brady handed off to LeSean McCoy, who ran for one yard up the middle.
Packers get early field goal
The Packers took an early 3-0 lead over the Bucs on Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field goal 4:33 into the game.
The field goal capped a 10-play, 54-yard drive that started at the Green Bay 25. The big play was a 20-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Aaron Jones to the Packers 45. Rodgers was 4-of-7 for 52 yards on the drive.
RayJay at 25-percent capacity
Today marks the first time this season that the Bucs will play a home game at Raymond James Stadium at 25-percent capacity, which is about 16,250 fans.
While tickets to the game were only made available to the Bucs' season-ticket holders, there’s a noticeable amount of gold in the seating bowl.
Despite the pandemic, Packers fans are at the stadium and likely paid a pretty penny to be here.
This marks the first time that Packers fans will have the opportunity to watch their team play in person this season. The Green Bay area is one of the country’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots and, earlier this month, the Packers announced there would be no fans at home games indefinitely.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported last week that the average lowest-cost seats for today’s game on the secondary market were going for $298 apiece.
The Bucs had a soft opener at Raymond James Stadium two weeks ago, allowing fans who had season tickets since 1998 — the year the stadium opened — and earlier to attend. That game drew 6,383 fans.
LeSean McCoy needs to be more involved
A healthier Mike Evans and the return of Chris Godwin will certainly assist the Bucs' passing game today, but the return of running back LeSean McCoy will also help Tom Brady move the chains.
We know Brady relies on his running backs as pass catchers — and Ronald Jones has 15 receptions in five games — the return of McCoy, whose primary role has been as a pass-catching running back on third downs, should help the Bucs move the chains this afternoon.
Running back Leonard Fournette will be inactive as he recovers from an ankle injury, which makes McCoy’s role as a pass-catcher even more important.
McCoy made five catches for 26 yards — including three that resulted in first downs — in the Bucs' Week 2 win over the Panthers but hasn’t caught more than two passes in any other game.
Last week, the Bucs completed five of eight targets to running backs for 24 yards.
“As far as the running back situation — we were down running backs,” Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said of last week’s loss in Chicago. “We barely had one at the time. We were down to our last one, and he did a great job of just fighting for us.
"Injuries have been tough this year for everyone, but we have to find ways to work through whatever we’ve got out there on the field and make sure we make enough plays to win football games. That’s really our mindset. We don’t really see anything as a deficiency. We see it as putting guys in a position to do what they do well.”
Leonard Fournette, Khalil Davis inactive for Bucs
The Bucs announced their inactives for today’s game, and running back Leonard Fournette and rookie defensive lineman Khalil Davis are the most notable players who won’t dress.
Fournette was active in last week’s loss to Chicago, playing one snap, but won’t play today because of a lingering ankle injury.
Davis, the Bucs' sixth-round pick out of Nebraska, would have had the opportunity to make his NFL debut today because of Vita Vea’s season-ending injury last week, but he is unavailable because of an ankle injury sustained this week in practice.
That leaves the Bucs especially thin at the nose tackle position. Rakeem Nunez-Roches will take most of the snaps in Vea’s absence. But, with Davis out, Jeremiah Ledbetter, a practice-squad player who was elevated to the active roster for this game, could play. Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson could move inside, coach Bruce Arians said.
As expected, cornerback Carlton Davis and safety Jordan Whitehead, both of whom were listed as questionable, are active and will start.
The Bucs will have seven receivers active — Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Justin Watson, Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson and Jaydon Mickens. Evans, Godwin, Miller and Watson were all listed on this week’s injury report.
A matchup to savor
Enjoy this one, Bucs fans.
It’s not often you get to see two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks going head-to-head for only the third — and possibly last— time in their careers.
On your home field, no less.
But that’s just what we’ll get this afternoon, when Tom Brady and the Bucs face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at 4:25 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady won six Super Bowls with the Patriots. Rodgers led the Packers past the Steelers in Super Bowl 45.
Both quarterbacks have their teams in contention again this year. Green Bay is off to a 4-0 start, while Tampa Bay is one of three teams atop the NFC South with 3-2 records.
And both will be getting back big targets today.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin returns to the Bucs’ offensive huddle after missing two games with a hamstring injury. The Packers will welcome back receiver Davante Adams, who missed three games with a hamstring injury.
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A little light reading
Here’s some of our content leading up to today’s game: