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Packers Beat Buccaneers 14-12 on Campbell’s Two-Point Breakup

After a hot start, the Green Bay Packers held on for dear life to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-12. Give the game ball to De'Vondre Campbell for his pivotal deflection.
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Forget Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. Defense wins championships and two championship-level defenses engaged in a steamy slugfest on Sunday. The Green Bay Packers, staggered and hanging on for dear life, clung to a 14-12 triumph over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

In vintage Brady form, the Buccaneers drove to a late touchdown, with Russell Gage absorbing a big hit by Rasul Douglas with 14 seconds remaining. On the do-or-tie two-point play, the Buccaneers were flagged for delay of game. It was a colossal, simple mistake by the legendary quarterback. Pushed back to the 7, Brady went back to his favorite receiver, Gage, but linebacker De’Vondre Campbell used every bit of his 6-foot-4 inch frame to make a leaping deflection.

Allen Lazard recovered the onside kick as the Packers (2-1) won their second consecutive game and edged the powerful Buccaneers (2-1) in a game that could have serious NFC playoff ramifications.

“Feels good, for sure,” Rodgers said. “Could be some tiebreaker stuff down the line when you beat a team like this but it’s just Week 3.”

The Packers looked poised to score an early knockout. This time, it was the Buccaneers who were on the ropes but were saved by the bell – an Aaron Jones fumble, to be exact. From there, it was like old-school World War I-style trench warfare. Yards were at a premium. Big plays were nonexistent. Every first down seemed like a momentous achievement.

The Packers failed on eight consecutive third downs, starting with the Jones fumble late in the first half, until finally moving the chains on a third-and-4 completion to Lazard with 5 minutes remaining. Moments later, Rodgers threw a perfect deep ball to Lazard, who got a step beyond Antoine Winfield for a huge gain of 26. Rather than the clinching field goal, the drive stalled when rookie defensive lineman Logan Hall finally beat Royce Newman for a sack.

That set the stage for the final round, with the Bucs taking over at their 11 with 3:04 to play. Brady is the king of the 2-minute drill. Three completions to Gage gained a total of 29 yards, and running back Leonard Fournette was all alone in the flat for a too-easy gain of 17. That put the ball on the Packers’ 43 at the 2-minute warning.

On the next play, Brady hit tight end Cameron Brate for 11 more. Once again, Fournette was open in the flat, resulting in a gain of another 10. Short completions to Scotty Miller and Gage set up a first-and-goal at the 10. Campbell broke up a first-down pass but safety Adrian Amos was flagged for interference. That meant first-and-goal at the 3 with 26 seconds to go. On second down from the 2, Brady fired a bullet to Gage, who made a tremendous catch against a jarring hit by Rasul Douglas.

The Packers, though, won on Campbell’s deflection of a pass to Gage on the two-point play.

“It’s a play we’ve been practicing all week. I just went to my instincts, trusted my instincts,” he said.

For most of the afternoon, Green Bay’s defense was dominant, with the obvious asterisk that the Buccaneers didn’t have their elite receiver trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones or left tackle Donovan Smith. The short-handed Buccaneers just didn’t pack much of a punch. The Buccaneers were just 1-of-10 on third down until the final drive.

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“Every team is going to face adversity throughout the course of the season and it really doesn’t matter,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Nobody really cares. It’s about finding ways to win a game and I was proud that we did that tonight. It’s never easy. I told our guys we’ll never apologize for winning. You’ve just got to find a way and we did.”

Rodgers was 27-of-35 passing for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Green Bay managed only 67 rushing yards after running roughshod over Chicago.

The Packers led 14-3 at halftime behind a virtuoso first half by Rodgers, who was 15-of-18 for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the opening 30 minutes. Romeo Doubs caught four of those passes and five players had two. Of the three incompletions, two were intentional on the final drive of the half.

The Bucs struck first on Ryan Succop’s 45-yard field goal on the opening drive. In three games, Green Bay has given up 17 points on those first drives. The Packers answered with a 5-yard touchdown catch by Doubs. A 17-yard catch-and-run by Randall Cobb on third-and-6 was the big play. On their next series, Lazard had a 6-yard touchdown. Rodgers converted third downs with completions of 9 yards to Robert Tonyan, 7 yards to Lazard and 23 yards to Tyler Davis on a perfect play-action boot.

The only negatives? Jones’ goal-line fumble late in the first half, a play that could have turned this showdown into a route, and a groin injury sustained on the opening series by cornerback Jaire Alexander. That Jones fumble turned out to be a monster play considering the offensive funk that followed.

“It’s been a lot of fun competing against Tom over the years and it’s always nice coming out on top because it hasn’t happened that many times,” Rodgers said.

Game Balls

De’Vondre Campbell saved the day with his brilliant deflection of the two-point play. He had a game-high 14 tackles, too. The Buccaneers’ inside linebackers were pivotal to Tampa Bay’s two wins in 2020. On Sunday, it was Campbell who came up huge.

And don't forget cornerback Keisean Nixon. Forced into action after Jaire Alexander suffered a groin injury on the opening series, Nixon delivered excellent coverage, forced a fumble and made the brilliant play on special teams.

Questionable Call

Midway through the third quarter, Pat O’Donnell’s superb punt was caught by gunner Keisean Nixon. That set the Buccaneers up at the 2. A three-and-out punt should have given the Packers great field position. And it did, with Amari Rodgers returning the kick to the Bucs’ 32. However, Tipa Galeai was flagged for running into the penalty – a terrible call; he was thrown into the punter by Keanu Neal. A 5-yard penalty, in reality, was a 33-yard infraction. Instead of starting in instant field-goal range, the Packers turned it over on Aaron Rodgers’ interception.

Turning Point

The Packers were just steps away from a 21-3 lead late in the first half. Instead, Aaron Jones was drilled near the goal line by defensive tackle Vita Vea and fumbled. The Buccaneers recovered and stayed in the game. That play not only eliminated a potential huge halftime lead but it eliminated all of Green Bay’s offensive mojo.

Number of the Day

Pat O’Donnell punted seven times. Five pinned the Buccaneers inside the 20. Of the Buccaneers’ 12 drives, they started beyond their 25-yard line just once.

What’s Next?

The Packers will return to Lambeau Field to host the New England Patriots next Sunday. Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m. New England fell to 1-2 with a 37-26 home to loss to Baltimore. Lamar Jackson threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns and added 107 rushing yards and another touchdown in a superlative effort. Meanwhile, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones threw for 321 yards but threw three interceptions. Adding injury to insult, the Patriots reportedly believe Jones sustained a high-ankle sprain late in the game. The backup is veteran Brian Hoyer.