By: Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida – Bucs reporter
Heading into week 6, the hype surrounded the matchup between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but it was the strength and athleticism of the Tampa Bay defense that stood out the most. The defense showed off their speed and ability to move to the ball which led to two interceptions and four sacks.
And it was a Buccaneers pick 6 that changed the entire ball game. According to Coach Arians, “[Jamel] Dean made his play and that changed the whole momentum.” The Buccaneers were trailing 10-0 going into the second quarter when Dean intercepted Rodgers on an out route. It was the first interception on Rodgers all season, and led to Tampa Bay’s first touchdown of the game.
Linebacker Devin White explained in the first quarter, “they gave us something we had not seen and we got beat . . . but Dean’s pick set the tempo for the rest of the game.”
The defense continued to put plenty of pressure on the Packers, confusing Rodgers on coverage and chasing him out of the pocket. The pairing of inside linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David were explosive off the line. Coach Arians reported, “their speed shows up, sideline to sideline, but they are excellent blitzers.”
When combined with outside linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has a force to be reckoned with and a leading NFL rush defense.
As Devin White explained, “we fly around to the ball . . . I told Todd to unleash me, let me get after the quarterback.”
Overall, the Buccaneers executed much better than last week. One of the biggest corrections was having no penalties the entire game; only the second time in franchise history. The Buccaneers also walked away with no sacks on Brady and no turnovers. As Arians explained, when you have no penalties, no sacks and no turnovers, “you’re going to be hard to beat.”
And it only took 6 weeks, but Tom Brady and Tight End Rob Gronkowski were finally able to connect for a touchdown pass in the second quarter. Gronkowski celebrated his first Tampa Bay touchdown with a signature spike in the end zone. Unfortunately, he is still battling an injured right shoulder, so his left-handed spike didn’t reach the heights some had hoped for.
Arians described after the game, “he did a heck of a job adjusting to that ball and getting the touchdown. I just wish he could have spiked it with his right arm.” Brady added, “[Gronkowski] played great today, and I’ve got to keep getting him and Cam [Brate] the ball,” which helps take pressures off the other receivers.
Brady continues to find multiple receivers throughout the game, including Chris Godwin who finally returned after battling with a hamstring injury for several weeks. Godwin had 5 receptions for 48 yards.
Brady also connected with rookie receiver Tyler Johnson who scored his first NFL touchdown. After the game Arians explained Johnson was the fourth read on that play, and they had never completed that ball before. Arians added that while there was great protection by the Packers, “Tom [Brady] did a great job and Tyler [Johnson] ran a great route.”
Running back Ronald Jones II completed the game with 24 rushes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Jones now has three games in a row with 100+ rushing yards.
While the Buccaneers admittedly gave up the first quarter, they kept their composure, focused on executing plays and came away victorious against an undefeated Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay (4-2) needs the keep the momentum rolling into next week against the Las Vegas Raiders on October 25th, as both of their losses have been on the road. The Raiders are currently 3-2 and coming off a bye week, which means they will be rested and ready to battle.