TAMPA — Depending on whom you ask, the Bucs have either a Super Bowl-caliber defense or one that is wildly inconsistent.The defense can allow a pass-happy rookie quarterback pin a 17-point lead on it in the first half and shut out a future Hall of Famer for three quarters in one of the worst beatings of his career.The Bucs own the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, but the 4,621 total points scored by teams this season are the most in league history.Sometimes, you get both sides of the coin in the same game.After the Packers' Aaron Rodgers posted a 10-0 lead on the Bucs on Sunday, dominating time of possession in the first quarter, the defense had a sideline summit with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who told its members to play with more fearlessness.“I think they knew it coming in, it was just a matter of letting loose, not being afraid to make a mistake and just go play,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Todd did a great job. The whole coaching staff was over there talking to them about, ‘Just turn it loose.’ And they did.”After that, Rodgers was intercepted twice, sacked four times and hit on 11 other occasions. For the game, he passed for only 160 yards and was held to a passer rating of 35.4. The Bucs won 38-10.“I applaud them for what they did Sunday to Aaron Rodgers because he is a real man,” said former Bucs defensive tackle and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who was at the game. “You don’t throw him for a 35 quarterback rating very often.”It’s easy to search through the archives for the last time a Bucs defense played so well against the No. 1 offense in the league. Go back to the Bucs' obliteration of the Oakland Raiders in their 48-21 win in Super Bowl 37. The last time the Bucs won by 28 points against a team with a winning record was 20 years ago, when they beat the Vikings 41-13 in 2000 to drop Minnesota to 7-1.Comparisons are inevitable but also dangerous. All you can do is look at what the Bucs are doing now and try to predict the future.In addition to ranking first on defense in total yards by allowing only an average 282 per game, the Bucs also are first in run defense, second in sack percentage, seventh in points allowed (20.3), sixth in passing yards allowed (217.7), tied for second in sacks (22) and sixth in yards-per-pass attempt (6.9).But Sunday’s game, coming against an undefeated team, set a new standard this season that the defense must try to live up to."There’s no doubt, that is the standard,'' linebacker Lavonte David said.Dan Orlovsky, a former Lions and Bucs quarterback who serves as an analyst for ESPN, said the Bucs defense that bottled up Rodgers and the Packers is good enough to win it all.“I’ll speak to it from an offensive perspective,” Orlovsky said on ESPN’s Get Up! "You make me one dimensional when you play football like that. You can stop the run defensively if you’re Tampa. Now I’m thinking all I can do is throw the football. You can rush me. You’ve got a great blitz package.“You have the two best linebackers in football in Devin White and Lavonte David, and then you just get after me. You can turn the football over. Every throw is difficult. You run to the football. So if you’re going to make it that easy on your offense, Tom Brady or what not, if your defense plays like that, the Bucs are going to win the Super Bowl.”Former Bucs defensive back Ronde Barber, on his Turning Point segment for the team’s website, broke down the game and dropped some superlatives.“As a whole, the defense was as good as I’ve ever seen it,” Barber said.The architect is Bowles, who uses an array of blitzes and pressure packages — or the illusion of pressure — to force quarterbacks into mistakes.According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Rodgers was 3-of-12 for 28 yards against the blitz, with two interceptions, and was sacked three of the five times. The Bucs have six interceptions and 15 sacks when blitzing this season, both tops in the NFL. They are blitzing 40 percent of the time, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL.Tampa Bay is only the second team in the past two decades to have at least 20 sacks and 10 takeaways and allow fewer than 70 rushing yards per game. The other team to do it was the 2008 Steelers, who beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa.But to be great, you have to be consistent. You can’t allow Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert to go deep or Bears quarterback Nick Foles to come out of a first-half hibernation and beat you with wheel routes to running backs.After six weeks, the Bucs' defense is the best in a league in a season in which scoreboards are being lit up like pinball machines.But for three quarters Sunday, against the hottest quarterback in the NFL, it played the kind of defense that wins championships.“It’s definitely a standard that we have to uphold now,” David said. “Especially with the coaching staff we have. They’re not going to accept anything less than our performance that we had” Contact Rick Stroud at email@example.com or 727-709-5982. Follow @NFLSTROUD.