The Tampa Bay Buccaneers home opener ended on a sour note as the Green Bay Packers held on for a 14-12 victory at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. In a matchup featuring two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, it was the defenses that controlled the game. Tom Brady led the Bucs on a potential game-tying drive, throwing a touchdown to Russell Gage with 14 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Bucs failed to convert the two-point conversion attempt, and Green Bay went on to secure the win.
The Buccaneer defense was the top-ranked unit in the NFL entering week three. They did not look anything like the number one defense in the league at the start of this game. Continuing a trend of lethargic starts to games, the Bucs gave up 146 yards and two touchdowns on Green Bay’s first two drives of the game. The Packers were poised to score another touchdown right before halftime, until Lavonte David and Vita Vea forced an Aaron Jones fumble at the Bucs five-yard line.
From that moment on, the Bucs defense played up to their abilities, and held Green Bay to 101 yards in the second half without allowing a single point. Safety Mike Edwards played a great game for the Bucs. He led the team with 13 tackles and was flying around the field all night long. Rookie lineman Logan Hall had the Buc’s lone sack of the day, and also tallied three quarterback hits. Safety Logan Ryan recovered a fumble, and intercepted Aaron Rodgers (27 for 35 for 255 yards) which set up a field goal for the Bucs.
The banged-up Buccaneer offense struggled once again after a nice 10 play, 48-yard opening drive that resulted in a field goal by Ryan Succop. The Bucs totaled only 285 yards of offense, 34 total rushing yards, and were 2 for 11 on third down conversions. Tom Brady (31 for 42 for 271 yards) played well enough to win the game for the Buccaneers. He was sacked three times, and hit four more times, but managed to give the Bucs a chance to tie the game despite the poor play of his supporting cast.
Russell Gage finally showed up and led the team with 12 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. But he lost a fumble in the third quarter that ended a good drive for the offense. Breshad Perriman also lost a fumble for the Bucs in the closing minutes of the first half that ended another potential scoring drive. Cameron Brate had a solid game totaling five catches for 52 yards.
Rookie punter Jake Camarda once again showed off his huge leg, booming six punts for an average of 49.5 yards per punt. Kicker Ryan Succop went 2 for 2 on field goals which kept the Bucs in striking distance throughout the game.
The Buccaneer’s home opener did not end up the way we would have liked it to. A slow start, six penalties for 40 yards, and two fumbles lost proved to be too much for the undermanned Buccaneers to pull off the comeback victory. Next Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs come to Raymond James for a rematch of Super Bowl 55. Let’s hope this loss lights a fire under the team, and they are able to bounce back in a big way.