Buccaneers rough up Aaron Rodgers, bottle up Packers’ explosive offense in rout

TAMPA, Fla. —Tom Brady tapped into the perfect formula to get the best of Aaron Rodgers.

Lean on the Bucs defense. Check.

Find Rob Gronkowski in key moments. Done.

Keep mistakes to a minimum. And how.

Brady did his part, too, passing for 166 yards and two TDs, as the Buccaneers knocked the Green Bay Packers from the ranks of the unbeaten with a convincing 38-10 verdict at Raymond James Stadium.

Green Bay (4-1) seemed ready to lay the tracks for a rout in sprinting to a 10-zip lead, but the Bucs quickly turned the game by intercepting Rodgers on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter – the first returned 32 yards by Jamel Dean for a touchdown.

In addition to snagging the first interceptions this season off Rodgers, the Bucs sacked Green Bay’s quarterback four times and left him with one of the worst statistical performances of his career. Rodgers completed 16 of 35 passes for 160 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 35.4 – the second-worst rating of his career, after a 34.4 showing at Buffalo in 2014.

The Bucs (4-2) also did a number on Aaron Jones, holding him to 15 yards on 10 carries.

A shootout featuring marquee quarterbacks? Hardly. Tampa Bay scored 38 unanswered points to turn the matchup into a lopsided laugher. Both passers were pulled for the final six minutes of garbage time.

Also noticeable: The Bucs, the most penalized team in 2019 and tied for the most infractions through the first five weeks of 2020, didn’t draw a single yellow flag.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ndamukong Suh (93) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the second quarter of a NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

Three other things we learned from the Bucs romp:

1. Rodgers not perfect anymore — After not throwing a single pick during the first four games, Rodgers had two interceptions in the span of four snaps in the second quarter. Both throws were intended for Davante Adams and they led to quick points that reversed the game’s momentum. Dean undercut Adams’ out route for the first theft and ran 32 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. The ensuing drive abruptly ended when Adams didn’t secure the football while running a short slant. The ball popped into the hands of Mike Edwards, whose 39-yard runback set up a 2-yard Ronald Jones TD plunge on the next play. Rodgers – who threw just four INTs all of last season – had his streak of throws without a pick this season snapped at 153.

2. TB12’s red zone chemistry with Gronk still exists — It took a few games, but Brady finally connected with Gronkowski for the duo's first TD collaboration as Bucs teammates. And it looked a lot like the clutch stuff we saw from them for so many years as Patriots.  Gronkowski made a sweet adjustment while running a fade pattern against the single coverage of Adrian Amos late in the second quarter to haul in a 13-yard pass for his first score since Dec. 9, 2018. And he didn’t stop with that. Gronkowski also caught his longest pass of the season, 31 yards, to set up Ryan Succop’s 50-yard field goal in the third quarter and finished with five catches for 78 yards to mark his most productive day as a Buc. 

3. The Bucs are capable of playing clean football — That’s worth repeating with this team. The Bucs are capable of playing clean football. Tampa Bay, which led the league in penalties last season and entered the game tied for the league lead this season, didn’t have a single penalty. It had to make Brady feel at home, finally, after so many years with a Patriots team that typically ranked near the bottom in penalties.

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Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady: Inside the numbers as future Hall of Fame QBs meet for third time

NFL fans were treated to quarterback duels between Drew Brees and Tom Brady in Week 1 and Brees and Aaron Rodgers in Week 3.  

Now, it’s time to see Brady and Rodgers in Week 6. The future Hall of Fame quarterbacks lead a pair of NFC contenders into a 4:25 p.m. ET matchup Sunday between the Packers (4-0) and Buccaneers (3-2).  

It is only the third head-to-head matchup between No. 12 and No. 12. Which quarterback has the edge on Sunday? Sporting News explores the past matchups between Rodgers and Brady for some trends you should pay attention to:

Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady  

Brady is close to catching Brees for the most TD passes in NFL history. Brady has 553 TD passes for his career – three fewer than Brees’ all-time-record of 556. Brady also ranks second in career passing yards with 75,946.  

Rodgers is the NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating (103.0). He ranks seventh in passing TDs (377) and 12th in passing yards (48,160).  

Brady and Rodgers have combined to win five AP NFL MVP awards. Brady won the award in 2007, 2010 and 2017. Rodgers won the award in 2011 and 2014.  

How many seasons has Tom Brady played in the NFL?  

Tom Brady is in his 21st season in the NFL. He made his NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000, taking over for starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in a blowout Thanksgiving loss to the Lions. 

How many seasons has Aaron Rodgers played in the NFL?   

Aaron Rodgers in his 16th season in the NFL. He made his debut on Oct. 9, 2005 with the Packers in mop-up duty for Brett Favre in a blowout victory against the Saints.  

Aaron Rodgers vs. Tampa Bay  

-Rodgers has four career starts against the Buccaneers, and he has a 2-2 record in those starts. That includes three road games. Rodgers is 85 of 136 (62.5 percent) for 1,048 yards, eight TDs and seven interceptions in those games.  

-Rodgers made his first appearance against Brady in New England in a 35-0 loss on Nov. 19, 2006. Rodgers completed 4 of 12 passes for 32 yards in a blowout loss. 

Tom Brady vs. Green Bay   

-Brady has made five career starts against the Packers – two against Brett Favre, one against Matt Flynn and two against Rodgers. Brady is 3-2 in those games and split the starts against Favre and Rodgers.  

-Brady is 103 of 169 (61.0 percent) with 10 TDs and three interceptions against the Packers in those five starts.  

Rodgers vs. Brady head-to-head matchups   

Rodgers and Brady have met head to head just twice in their career. They split those two meetings.  

Brady is 44 of 70 for 539 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions in two head-to-head starts against Rodgers, who is 48 of 81 for four TDs and zero interceptions in those two games.  

A look at those two meetings: 

Green Bay 26, New England 21 (Nov. 30, 2014)   

The Patriots (9-2) and Packers (8-3) entered the game with winning records at Lambeau Field, and Rodgers finished with 368 passing yards and two TDs. Brady had 245 yards and a pair of TDs. The Packers sealed the victory on a late connection from Rodgers to Randall Cobb, which elicited a memorable reaction from Brady.  

New England 31, Green Bay 17 (Nov. 4 ,2018)  

The second matchup fell on Sunday Night Football, and it came complete with a promo from Michael Jordan.  

Brady, who finished with 294 yards and a TD, led two TD drives in the fourth quarter to break open a tie game. Rodgers finished with 259 passing yards and two TDs in the loss.  

Rodgers vs. Brady playoff history   

Brady is a six-time Super Bowl winner with a 30-11 record in the postseason, and he has 222 career victories as a starter in the regular season. Brady won all six Super Bowls with Bill Belichick in New England.  

Rodgers won a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 2010, but he has yet to get back to the big game. Rodgers took the Packers to the NFC championship game in 2014, 2016 and 2019. He is 11-8 in the postseason, and Green Bay reached the NFC championship game last season under first-year coach Matt LaFleur.   

Rodgers vs. Brady in 2020  

Rodgers is off to a fantastic start in 2020. He is completing 70.5 of his passes, and that comes with 1,214 yards, 13 TDS and no interceptions. He is in the MVP conversation, and the Packers are one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFC.  

Tampa Bay is 3-2 with Brady. The Buccaneers are coming off a Thursday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears. Brady is still learning with new coach Bruce Arians, but the veteran quarterback is completing 64.3 percent of his passes with 1,375 yards, 12 TDs and four interceptions. 

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Aaron Ramsey: Wales midfielder withdraws from squad to face Bulgaria

Aaron Ramsey has withdrawn from Wales’ squad for their Nations League game in Bulgaria on Wednesday due to injury.

The Juventus midfielder missed Wales’ 3-0 friendly defeat to England at Wembley last week following a COVID-19 outbreak at the Italian club, but returned to captain the side in the goalless draw against Republic of Ireland on Sunday.

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Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks is also missing for Wednesday’s game in Sofia due to injury, along with suspended pair Kieffer Moore and Joe Morrell.

Brooks was a 77th-minute replacement for Daniel James in Dublin, but was not included in the squad for last weekend’s friendly defeat to England.

He returned to full training with Bournemouth in February following two ankle operations, which forced him to miss most of the 2019-20 season.


Giggs confident Wales have enough options

Wales boss Ryan Giggs has defended his decision not to strengthen his squad and says being in a COVID-19 bubble has made the situation “more problematic”.

“We all got tested [for coronavirus] after the Ireland game on Sunday,” Giggs said. “After that it would have been very difficult [to bring players in]. Players would have had fly to Dublin and then Bulgaria.

“We just have to deal with the players we’ve got, which is fine.”

Asked if he should have called up a replacement when Hal Robson-Kanu was ruled out with a broken arm two days before last Thursday’s England friendly, Giggs said: “We had 26 players so that was fine.

“I felt with Dan James, Harry Wilson and Brooksy not involved in the England game that they would be three new players coming into two games. So we felt we were fine in that respect.

“It has been more problematic because of the COVID situation. But that wasn’t solely the reason, we felt we had enough players.”

Wales are currently top of Nations League Group B4 after winning two and drawing one of their first three games.

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