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Punchless Bucs fall to Packers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) gets sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52). [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) gets sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52). [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Dec. 22, 2014

TAMPA — Any Green Bay Packers fan worth his Instagram photo account left Sunday's 20-3 win over the Buccaneers with a few new tan lines and some terrific shots of his Christmas vacation to Florida.

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See the largest Raymond James Stadium crowd (64,247) in two years, two-thirds of it wearing cheeseheads and turning the new Sombrero into a Lambeau Field south. You can't really blame Bucs fans for selling their tickets rather than watch a 2-13 team while the Pack clinched a playoff spot in their yard.

"(To) take over our stadium, it was kind of surprising to me," Bucs safety Dashon Goldson said. "I've never seen it like that."

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That's quarterback Josh McCown wearing Packers linebacker Clay Matthews like a backpack. Matthews had 2½ of the Packers' seven sacks, a season worst for the Bucs, whose offense had five three-and-outs to start the game.

The Bucs had only 109 total yards and didn't crack the century mark until the two-minute warning. Heck, Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who had scored the only touchdown of the game until the fourth quarter, had 99 yards by himself. The Bucs' 16 yards rushing were their fewest since 1989, when Don Majkowski was the Packers quarterback, two future Hall of Famers ago.

"Then of course, when you pass, you can't really protect" the quarterback, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "Quarterback-wise, there's some decisions we'd probably like to have back, maybe getting rid of the ball quicker. It's a combination. To just pinpoint or blame on one area wouldn't be right."

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That's the coaching box high above Lambeau South. The empty seat is where former Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was supposed to be. Tedford had two stents placed in a coronary artery in August. He asked to leave the team a few weeks ago to become head coach of the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League. He told the Vancouver Sun, "I've been good to go for a couple of months now and I feel great."

A couple of months now?

"We didn't have a coordinator in place this year, and we haven't had a whole lot of offensive production, so we're easy targets for that," Smith said.

McCown went further. "All I know is that he wasn't here and I've said it over and over again, there's no excuses. But there's a reason why 31 teams have an offensive coordinator."

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That's Aaron Rodgers, the likely MVP of the league, throwing his only TD to Jordy Nelson with 2:45 left in the game. Until then, the Bucs defense kept A-Rodge and the NFL's No. 1 offense mostly out of the end zone, including a goal-line stand and a turnover. Of course, it's cold and flu season in Wisconsin, and Rodgers had been under the weather for a few days then had his calf cramp up. Nothing some cheese soup and actor girlfriend Olivia Munn can't make better.

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"It's frustrating because to see the defense play the way that they played," McCown said. "I talked earlier in the week about the respect I have for Aaron and what kind of player he is. For (the Bucs defense) to play the way they played, it's frustrating, man. We (the Bucs offense) have got to be better than that."

After the game, Smith didn't try to gloss over how putrid the Bucs' offense has become.

"We picked the worst possible time to play our worst game. Period," Smith said.

"This is where we are right now. We're not going to always be down like this. Yeah, we have one game left and we can't change it all overnight and I can't tell you exactly why we're here. We are here. But we won't be always."

The Bucs still have not won a home game this year, so why not treat Sunday's defeat like a road loss? They have one more chance next Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, who were eliminated from the playoffs with their 30-14 loss to Atlanta.

"I look forward to the day when we're playing good enough football where our fans want to come and see us," Smith said. "Where more of our fans want to see us play. Right now, we're not. That's what it is. So again, we're not playing good enough football, but I've been in the situation where they've taken it over before. But we'll have our day. Right now, where we are, we have to take it. That's what happens."

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