Rapid Reaction: Packers 35, Bucs 26
November, 20, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some thoughts on another Green Bay Packers victory:
What it means: The Packers held a tenuous two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the fourth quarter, but hung on to win their 10th game of the season and their 16th consecutive, dating back to last season and including the playoffs.
RodgersWatch: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers opened the game with incompletions on three of his first four throws and actually threw an interception in the fourth quarter, his fourth of the season. I thought it was time to consider backup Matt Flynn, but coach Mike McCarthy stuck with Rodgers. (SARCASM ALERT.) Rodgers still finished with 299 passing yards and his 10th consecutive game with a passer rating of at least 110. His main target Sunday was receiver Jordy Nelson, who caught two touchdowns among his six receptions for 123 yards. More to come on Nelson a bit later.
This week's Packers concerns: A week after shutting down the Minnesota Vikings' offense, the Packers' defense had its troubles against the Bucs. Tight end Kellen Winslow (nine receptions, 132 yards) was particularly tough to stop. And if you're keeping track, place-kicker Mason Crosby's perfect season ended when his 29-yard attempt hit the right upright in the fourth quarter.
Strategic dilemma: The Buccaneers tried two onside kicks, and I'm not sure if I agreed with either. I understand Morris was concerned about the Packers' explosive offense, but in the end he set them up twice in prime field position. The Bucs were penalized in the second quarter when kicker Michael Koenen touched the ball too early, and the Packers soon launched a touchdown drive from the Bucs' 38-yard line. Then, with 4 minutes, 25 seconds remaining and the Packers holding a two-point lead, the Bucs tried another one. This time, John Kuhn recovered to put the Packers in position to seal the game. Nelson's 40-yard touchdown reception came three plays later.
Rare play: Yes, Packers punter Tim Masthay really did commit two fumbles on one play in the first quarter. First, he dropped the ball after smartly stepping away from Buccaneers linebacker Jacob Cutrera, who had broken through and was in position for a block. Then, as he picked up the ball and took off on a desperate attempt to run for a first down, Masthay dropped the ball again. There was no contact on either fumble, but Masthay got the job done. He was credited with a 6-yard run on fourth-and-1, retaining possession on what would be the Packers' first scoring drive.
Doing "The Raji": Thankfully, defensive lineman B.J. Raji's first career touchdown run did not include a Lambeau Leap. Instead, Raji brought back "The Raji," which includes some kind of mid-section gyration. Raji lined up as a fullback at the goal line during the 2010 playoffs, but Sunday was the first time he received a carry. I'm not sure how often the Packers will hand it to Raji moving forward, but it's on tape now for opponents to include in their extensive preparations for the Packers' offense.