The Green Bay Packers stayed in the NFC playoff picture by knocking off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 in overtime on Sunday, snapping a three-game Lambeau Field losing streak.
The Packers improved to 6-6 and will face winless Cleveland on Sunday with the potential return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the final three games of the regular season.
The Packers used a couple of big plays to help their cause. Linebacker Kyler Fackrell blocked a punt that allowed the Packers to take over at the Tampa Bay 45. Jamaal Williams later scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Packers a 10-7 lead.
On the very next Tampa Bay possession, Green Bay defensive tackle Kenny Clark stripped the ball from quarterback Jameis Winston and the ball was scooped up in mid-air by Dean Lowry who returned the fumble 62 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 Packers lead.
The Packers have struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks this season, but they made up for lost time on Sunday. Clay Matthews returned to the lineup and recorded 2 1/2 sacks. Kenny Clark added two sacks, the first two of his career, helping the Packers to a seven sack day. The seven sacks was one short of the team record set against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.
Offensively, running back Jamaal Williams finished with 113 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown. And when he needed a break to catch his breath in overtime, Aaron Jones, who had been cleared to play on Saturday, scampered 20 yards on his only carry for the game winning touchdown.
The play was designed to go up the middle, but Jones saw nothing, so he popped to the left and took the ball around the corner for the touchdown run.
With Ty Montgomery going on injured reserve for the rest of the season, it’ll be up to Williams and Jones moving forward to handle the running chores. That is beginning to look like a good problem to have for coach Mike McCarthy.
After a strong performance in a loss to Pittsburgh a week earlier, quarterback Brett Hundley struggled against the Bucs. Hundley completed just 13 of 22 for 84 yards and an interception. His passer rating on the day was 48.3.
Hundley did help the cause while running the football. He finished with 66 yards rushing on seven carries. It was the best rushing performance for a Packers quarterback since Don Majkowski gained 88 yards on eight carries at Detroit in 1990.
Since taking over for Aaron Rodgers, Hundley has yet to throw a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field. Throw in a handful of interceptions and Hundley’s passer rating at home is just 57. On the road, it climbs to 106. For Hundley, that could be good news, with the next game on the road at Cleveland. A win would move the Packers to 7-6 and keep them in the playoff hunt with the possibility of seeing Aaron Rodgers return to the lineup the following week at Carolina.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he was pleased with how Rodgers looked on Saturday in his first practice since breaking his right collarbone.
“I think it definitely gives your football team a shot,” McCarthy said. “I know it was good for everybody, but it was really good for him, too. I know he really enjoyed being back out there in a practice climate.”