Top marks from Packers 14-12 win over Buccaneers in Week 3

Defeating a nasty foe on the road, the Green Bay Packers continued to follow a 2021-esque road at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. Matt LaFleur’s team defeated the Buccaneers with a final score of 14-12 in the teams’ first match-up since the 2020 NFC title game. And just like 2021, the Packers have recovered from a disappointing Week 1 effort with a decisive home win over a division rival and then an upset road win against a top NFC contender.

Here are the key takeaways from Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers:

Covering points for Pat O’Donnell

Kim Klement-US TODAY Sports

What’s a great way to help a defense designed to prevent big play? Flip field position and pin teams deep into their own territory with special teams. Packers punter Pat O’Donnell placed five of his seven punts within the 20-yard line, including one knocked down on the 2-yard line by Keisean Nixon. Shooter Rudy Ford made one tackle without a win and was there to force three different fair catches through the return. The work of O’Donnell, Nixon and Ford was a major reason why the Bucs started all of their 10 runs with no turnover at the 25-yard line or worse.

Romeo’s Breakthrough

(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

With Sammy Watkins on injured reserve and Christian Watson out while sustaining a hamstring injury, fourth round Romeo Doubs finally got a chance to be a prominent player in the passing game, and the rookie shone – he caught all eight goals for 73 yards and the Packers opening touchdown. He caught three passes on the opening drive, including a 21-yard strike from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers specifically designed a few chances for him, including a few catches on rollout passes. In the second half, Doubs made an impressive catch over 15 yards. Through three games, Doubs leads the team with 14 catches and is on pace to get nearly 80 passes.

Frustrating two-sided coin for the offense

Kim Klement-US TODAY Sports

The Packers showed the height of the attacking potential during a two checker stretch to open the game against one of the NFL’s best defenses. Green Bay designed scoring marches from 10 plays and 12 plays, won a total of 146 yards, converted five third downs, hit eight different receivers in the passing game and scored touchdowns in the red zone on well-designed plays. Even on the third drive, the Packers marched 60 yards and had a chance to blow the game wide before a turnover changed everything. In the next eight drives, the Packers turned the ball once and scored seven times, including three after three plays and another three after four plays. The last 10 third-down chances yielded only one conversion. Sunday afternoon gave a glimpse of what the Packers could be at their peak, but also showed how difficult it is to achieve consistency, especially for a young attack still finding their way early in the season.

Keisean Nixon resigns

Kim Klement-US TODAY Sports

The Packers lost Jaaire Alexander after just six games when he injured his groin. As a result, Rasul Douglas moved from the slot to the perimeter and Nixon went inside the nickel. The Bucs tested him early, but the former Raider was up to the task. He forced a fumble after a short completion and was there to force an end zone incomplete on a third-down play. The moment was never too great. Admittedly, the Bucs operated in the passing game with a rag-tag group of receivers, so maybe Nixon was lucky in terms of competition on most snaps. But Tom Brady usually finds the right match and Nixon never looked like the weak link.

Bakhtiari-Nijman tandem

Kim Klement-US TODAY Sports

In an interesting wrinkle, Packers coach Matt LaFleur turned David Bakhtiari and Yosh Nijman in and out on the left tackle. It was an attempt to keep Bakhtiari fresh in the Florida heat on his first game back, and a way to reward Nijman’s work on the blindside over the past year. During the live view, both seemed to perform admirably in a split role. Bakhtiari is the preferred starter, but Nijman has earned the trust of the staff and deserves to be in the conversation as one of the top five offensive linemen on the team, even when everyone is healthy and fully available. This is a good problem to have; the Packers believe they have at least three starting-level tackles in Nijman, Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Shaq Barrett, a Pro Bowl edge rusher, had a quiet afternoon against left tackles.

Setback defense

Kim Klement-US TODAY Sports

For all but two rides (first and last), the Packers were dominant in defense and consistently showed great reactions to adversity. Even on the final drive, the Packers halted the two-point conversion attempt to nearly seal the win. The offense turned the ball around twice, but the Bucs only got three points out of the takeaway. Tampa Bay went 2-for-11 trailing third and never got anything going consistently, largely because the Packers front forced negative play and demanded quick pitches from Tom Brady. A few times the Bucs seemed to pick up some momentum, but Joe Barry’s defense slammed the door every time. Overall, it was a strong performance against a future Hall of Fame quarterback who missed key pieces at the receiver and down the offensive line.

Veteran WRs make clutch clearances

Nathan Ray Seebeck-US TODAY Sports

Allen Lazard, who is still battling with an ankle injury, and Randall Cobb, who missed the entire week of practice due to an illness, both made big plays. Lazard caught a touchdown pass and converted two third downs, including one to extend a drive in the fourth quarter. He’s so tough one-on-one from the slot. Cobb put in a third on a first-half scoring drive on a 17-yard catch, and he nearly led to a third consecutive scoring drive to open the game with a 40-yard catch. The pair caught six passes for 102 yards and a score.

Leave a Comment