Raymond James Stadium in Tampa has been a house of horrors in Aaron Rodgers career and it continued on Sunday. Rodgers threw a pair of interceptions, including just the third pick-six of his career, sending the Green Bay Packers (4-1) to a 38-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their first defeat of the season.
The two interceptions were the first of the season for Rodgers. The first pick came on a third down with Rodgers looking for his favorite receiver, Davante Adams in the flat. Buccaneers safety Jamel Dean read Rodgers all the way, stepped in front of Adams and scampered 32-yards for a touchdown.
Two of the three interceptions thrown by Rodgers that were turned into interceptions, took place at Raymond James Stadium. The pick-six started a Tampa Bay run of 38 straight points for the Buccaneers, after they originally fell behind 10-0.
Just as stunning came Rodgers second interception of the day, just two passes later. Davante Adams was the intended target again, but the ball was tipped and it landed in the arms of safety Mike Edwards, who returned it to the 2-yard line, where the Bucs scored a play later on a Ronald Jones II touchdown run. Jones rushed for 113 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns against the Packers defense.
It’s the second straight season that the Packers have come out of a regular season bye week and laid an egg. Last season, the Packers came out of their bye with a 8-2 record and were buried by the San Francisco 49ers 37-8.
It’s the first time this season that the Packers failed to protect Rodgers, who was pressured by the Buccaneers defense 12 times and sacked four times. Rodgers faced 17 blitzes from Todd Bowles defense and the pressure appeared to affect the quarterbacks ability to convert play opportunities.
After the game, Bucs coach Bruce Ariens said, “I thought Todd mixed it up really, really good with his fronts, blitzes and coverages. You don’t usually get Aaron confused; I don’t think I’ve ever seen him confused. When you start running him down and chasing him out of there…early in the game he chased out and he made a lot of plays. We just kept chasing, it hemmed him up a little bit, and we got some hits on him. The defensive line, linebackers and the secondary, it was a great defensive performance.”
The Packers only touchdown came on a short run from Aaron Jones. Rodgers finished just 16-of-35 for 160 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His 35.4 passer rating was the second-lowest of his career.
The Packers defense entered the game with just three take/aways in four games. They left Raymond James Stadium with three take/aways in five games. Their defense was so in-effective that they failed to register a single quarterback sack or force a turnover. Outside linebackers Za’Darius and Preston Smith managed just one tackle each.
The Packers defense allowed the Bucs to rush for 158 yards on 35 carries (4.5 pgc avg.). Tom Brady completed 17 of 27 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Davante Adams returned to the Packers lineup and led the way with six catches for 61 yards.
Packers punter J.K. Scott had seven punts in the first four games of the season. He had seven more on Sunday, averaging 46.4 yards a punt.
The Packers are hoping for good news on left tackle David Bakhtiari. The All-Pro tackle left the game in the second half with a chest injury and didn’t return. The Packers also lost two other starters during the game: defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster (shoulder) and safety Darnell Savage (quadriceps).
The loss dropped the Packers out of first place in the NFC North, falling a half game behind the Chicago Bears (5-1). They’ll play a second straight road game this coming Sunday at Houston against the Texans.