News now! Packers clinch playoff berth; NFC North on the line next week

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 21, 2014 – 2:47 pm

Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb

TAMPA — The Packers clinched a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season with a 20-3 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

The win improved the Packers to 11-4 and set up a division-title showdown next week at Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions, whose game against the Chicago Bears was in the fourth quarter when the Green Bay game ended. The Lions’ result had no bearing on the NFC North race, which will come down to a winner-take-all meeting in Week 17, though both teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

The winner next week will enter the playoffs as the NFC North champions, while the loser will be a wild card. If the Packers win the division, they’ll be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the NFC and have a first-round bye.

To recap the fourth quarter Sunday, the Packers entered the final period ahead 10-3. They added to their lead on a drive that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. Five straight completions by QB Aaron Rodgers — two to WR Randall Cobb, two to WR Jordy Nelson and one to WR Davante Adams — picked up 31 yards. RB Eddie Lacy then converted a third-and-1 with a 6-yard run and FB John Kuhn followed with an 11-yard run.

The drive bogged down, however, as RB James Starks carried twice for 6 yards but was stopped short on a third-and-4 pass, leading to a 25-yard FG by K Mason Crosby. The three points put the Packers ahead 13-3 with 10:19 to go.

The Packers defense responded by allowing just one first down, and then LBs Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews sacked QB Josh McCown on back-to-back plays, forcing a punt. The sacks were the second on the day for each player. Matthews recorded his second straight two-sack game, while Peppers had his first two-sack game as a member of the Packers.

Matthews added another half-sack on the Buccaneers’ final drive of the game, giving the defense seven total sacks on the day, a season-high for Green Bay. That drive ended with an interception by DE Datone Jones, the first of his career.

Taking over with 6:47 left, the Packers offense got back to work moving the chains and killing clock. An 11-yard run by Kuhn was followed by a 16-yard pass to TE Andrew Quarless and a 30-yard catch-and-run by Cobb to get the ball to the Tampa Bay 20 with under four minutes to go. A 19-yard connection to Nelson moved it to the 1, and then Rodgers hit Nelson on a slant pass for the TD and a 20-3 lead with 2:45 left.

The pass completions to Cobb and Nelson put both players over 100 yards receiving in the same game for the second time this year (also vs. Philadelphia). Cobb posted career highs in both receptions and yards with 11 catches for 131 yards. Nelson had nine grabs for 113.

Rodgers finished 31-of-40 for 318 yards and a TD for a 108.1 passer rating.


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News now! Packers stopped on the goal line

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on December 21, 2014 – 2:03 pm

Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington sacks Buccaneers QB Josh McCownTAMPA–Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the Packers led the Bucs, 10-3, heading into the fourth quarter of today’s game at Raymond James Stadium.

Early in the third quarter, the Packers began a drive at their 33-yard line. Aaron Rodgers found Jordy Nelson on third down for 13 yards and a first down at the Packers 47. Rodgers followed with a 12-yard pass to Randall Cobb.

The Packers continued to mix run and pass, but the Bucs defense focused more intently on stopping Eddie Lacy. That opened the passing lanes, and Rodgers threw 15 yards to Cobb to the Tampa 23.

Another Rodgers-to-Cobb pass gained 15 to the 6-yard line. Lacy took the ball to the 1. Two plays later, John Kuhn was stopped for no gain, fourth-and-goal. Rodgers threw incomplete to Cobb and the score remained 10-3.

The Packers defense forced, yet, another punt, and the Packers offense got the ball back at its 37-yard line.

 


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News now! Bucs get on board with FG on final play of half

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 21, 2014 – 1:27 pm

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron RodgersTAMPA — Tampa Bay’s anemic offense finally got on the board on the final play of the first half with a field goal, and the Packers headed into the locker room with a 10-3 lead at intermission on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Packers missed a chance to add to their lead early in the second quarter. Passes of 8 yards to WR Davante Adams and 12 yards to WR Jordy Nelson picked up first downs, but on third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 30, QB Aaron Rodgers came up short on a pass for WR Randall Cobb. K Mason Crosby then missed a 48-yard FG try, wide left.

Green Bay’s defense responded with its fifth straight three-and-out to start the game. This one included a sack by Clay Matthews, the Packers’ second sack of the game. Those two sacks have accounted for minus-16 yards, leaving Tampa Bay with zero net yards after five drives.

Crosby made his next FG try, giving the Packers a 10-0 lead with 4:55 left in the half. A 24-yard pass to Cobb started the drive, RB Eddie Lacy carried twice for 10 yards, and then a 9-yard pass to Cobb got the offense into scoring territory. A third-down pass for Adams, though, was in his hands and knocked out by a big hit from Bucs S Dashon Goldson, forcing the FG try.

Tampa Bay recorded its initial first down of the game with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the half on a 13-yard pass to WR Mike Evans. The Bucs then threatened to score for the first time after a 40-yard completion to WR Vincent Jackson. Tampa Bay then picked up a first down at the Green Bay 20 on a fourth-and-1 run by RB Doug Martin. The Packers defense eventually held, though, as LB Julius Peppers sacked QB Josh McCown on third down, and the Bucs were forced to settle for a 42-yard FG by K Patrick Murray on the final play of the half.


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Packers fans packing Raymond James Stadium

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on December 21, 2014 – 1:23 pm

Ask Vic Halftime

Brandon from Manhattan, KS

Vic, I don’t get to watch many Packers games but I am listening to the game today. I love pounder-type running backs, and so whenever I see or hear Eddie Lacy get a carry, I squeal like a teenage girl that just met her favorite boy band. How good did Eddie Lacy look on his 44-yard TD run?

I think I heard the safety squeal.

Charlie from Fort Walton Beach, FL

Vic, it sounded like the stadium erupted when Lacy scored that touchdown. Lot of cheeseheads at the game? What does the stadium look like today?

I’d guess that Packers fans occupy about 40 percent of the crowd.

Evan from Eau Claire, WI

Do you have any information on Aaron’s calf? Seems like he strained it or something.

No information has been offered. He has complained in the past about tightness in his calves, but it’s possible there could be a more specific reason for the problem. It seemed to emerge following the sack on which Rodgers fumbled. He’s not his bouncy self today.

John from Saratoga Springs, NY

Vic, why do the Packers seem satisfied with their lack of production from their special teams during kick returns? How come we haven’t seen a change, especially when they have a guy perfectly built for returns in Jeff Janis?

This isn’t the preseason; this is December. This isn’t a time for finding out if a guy can play; this is for guys you know can play. Janis is a talent, but he’s a developing talent. I have no doubt the Packers will use him when they believe he’s ready to play and can help them.

Danny from Sun Prairie, WI

Well, the defense looks great.

That’s an understatement. Through the middle of the second quarter, the Packers had yet to allow a first down. In fact, the Bucs had yet to a gain a net yard.

Ryan from Kenosha, WI

I get the feeling the Packers are having mental struggles; same as the Buffalo game. Do you see this as a problem?

They’re out of sync. Is it Rodgers calf injury? Is it some kind of late-season malaise? I don’t know what it is, but I acknowledge this is not the same offense that was blowing teams out at midseason.

Kevin from Chicago, IL

I’ve got both the Packers and the Lions games on. Originally, I was thinking I wanted a Packers win and a Lions loss, but I want both to win to set up next week.

A Lions loss would be meaningless, as far as next week’s game goes. A Packers loss would be devastating if the Lions won, because it would clinch the division title for the Lions.

Randy from Springfield, IL

Vic, today I am only listening to the game. What is the feeling today? Is Tampa Bay really matching us, or are we beating ourselves?

The Packers aren’t on their game, but I get no sense Tampa could win this game. I hope I’m right and it stays that way.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

The Packers are using the pistol. What are the advantages to using this formation?

You can use your power running plays and play-action out of it.

Dan from Madison, WI

As we all knew, the Packers are seeing rush four, drop seven. They are chipping away at the defense with some smaller pass completions. Outside of Eddie Lacy having a big game, is this the other way to beat it?

You can’t double-cover everyone. Somebody needs to beat their man and Rodgers has to find that guy and get him the ball. Davante Adams’ performance against the Patriots is the example. Rush four, drop seven isn’t genius. It’s as basic as it gets. Run at it and force the linebackers to support, and then play-action against it and find the open guy down the field. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking someone has reinvented the game.

Randy from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Vic, this team is regressing late in the year, not getting better. The offense is underwhelming for the second straight week, after a lackluster second half vs. Atlanta. Missed field goals, blocked extra points, sacks, fumbles, dropped passes and more. Why should we believe this team can go anywhere in the playoffs?

Because we know what it can be when it’s playing its best football. This isn’t it.


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News now! Lacy scores late, Packers hold 7-0 lead

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on December 21, 2014 – 12:44 pm

Packers RB Eddie Lacy

TAMPA–Through one quarter of Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium, the Packers defense had yet to allow a first down and the Packers offense overcame a slow start to score late in the quarter and take a 7-0 lead.

The Packers won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Following an exchange of punts, the Packers put the ball in play at their 28-yard line. A third-down pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson gained 28 yards to the Bucs 36-yard line.

Two plays later, Rodgers was sacked by Michael Johnson. It was ruled no fumble had occurred, but the Bucs challenged the ruling and won. The recovery put the ball in the Bucs’ possession at their 45-yard line, but the Packers defense forced a second consecutive three-and-out.

Near the end of the first half, Rodgers completed a pass to Nelson for 24 yards to the Packers 39. The Packers crossed midfield with 1:40 to play in the half. Shortly after, Lacy struck the first blow of the game, running 44 yards for a touchdown with :50 to play in the half. The run put Lacy over a thousand yards rushing for the season.

A 5-yard pass was the Bucs’ longest play of the quarter.

 

 


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Pregame warmup: Packers can clinch playoff spot with win

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 21, 2014 – 10:40 am

TAMPA — The Packers can clinch a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium today.

That’s the biggest fallout from Saturday’s loss by the Eagles to the Redskins. That result clinched a playoff spot for the Lions and puts the Packers one win away from clinching.

If the Packers do earn that playoff spot today, next week’s game vs. Detroit at Lambeau Field would be to decide which NFC North team goes into the playoffs as the division champion and which goes in as a wild card. If the Packers lose today, the Lions can clinch the division title with a win over the Bears.

The other game factoring into Green Bay’s playoff scenarios today is the prime-time NFC West showdown between Arizona and Seattle. If the Cardinals win, they lock up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. If the Seahawks win, they control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed and would get it by winning again next week.

The Packers control their fate as it relates to a first-round playoff bye. If Green Bay wins its final two games, it will be no worse than the No. 2 seed, will earn a first-round bye and will play at home on the divisional playoff weekend (Jan. 10-11).

Weather update: Temperatures are in the mid to high 70s today in Tampa with clouds and very light winds. There is a chance for rain, but not until later in the day, most likely toward the very end of the game or after it is over.

Up front: The Packers are expected to have their starting offensive line intact for the 13th consecutive game. RT Bryan Bulaga, who left last week’s game in the fourth quarter with a concussion, was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report on Saturday, a sign that he has gained medical clearance through the concussion protocol.

Bulaga is the only starter on the offensive line to have missed a game this season, and it came way back in Week 2. Since Week 3, the group of Bulaga and David Bakhtiari at the tackles, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang at the guards, and rookie Corey Linsley at center has started every game.

Quasi-home game?: It will be tough to tell until the game gets going, but some estimates say Raymond James Stadium could feature 50 percent Packers fans today. The stadium holds approximately 66,000 people, so that could mean as many as 30,000 Green Bay fans in attendance.

The Packers are 3-4 on the road this season and will look to end their regular-season road slate with a .500 mark.

Past horrors: Green Bay’s last two visits here have not been kind. For more details on the recent history the Packers must overcome today, click here for this week’s “One Last Look.”

TV map: Here’s a look at the FOX TV map for the noon CT kickoff today:

Map courtesy of 506sports.com

 


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No surprises on Packers’ inactive list vs. Buccaneers

Posted by Duke Bobber on December 21, 2014 – 10:30 am

The following players have been declared as inactive for Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
16 QB Scott Tolzien
31 CB Davon House
54 LB Carl Bradford
72 C Garth Gerhart
80 TE Justin Perillo
83 WR Jeff Janis
99 DT Bruce Gaston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10 WR Robert Herron
11 WR Solomon Patton
25 RB Mike James
32 CB Isaiah Frey
73 T Anthony Collins
77 DL Lawrence Sidbury
86 TE/FB Evan Rodriguez


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#PackersBusinessTrip: Behind-the-scenes photos from Tampa

Posted by Duke Bobber on December 21, 2014 – 9:30 am

141220-packers-business-trip-600


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Buccaneers take safety, Barron from Alabama

Posted by Mike Spofford on April 26, 2012 – 7:46 pm

The top safety in the draft, and the only one thought to be a first-round talent, is off the board.  Tampa Bay took Alabama’s Mark Barron at No. 7.

The Packers obviously need a safety with the release of Nick Collins, but there was little hope of Barron being on the board at No. 28.  Interestingly, though, is no defensive linemen or outside linebackers have been taken yet, which is good news in terms of the Packers’ needs.

Miami, with former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as head coach and former head coach Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator, is now on the clock.


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