Packers Suffer Special Teams Letdown; Fall in Tampa Bay 38-28


Everyone seemed to think that the 0-7 Tampa Bay Bucs were just what the doctor ordered after the Packers fell at home in a tough setback to the Vikings at home. Think again. The Packers on Sunday played awful in Tampa Bay on special teams, costing the team what should have been an easy win, and instead turned into a 38-28 setback that has everyone shaking their heads.

“That’s two weeks where we have been on the wrong side of a lopsided special-teams performance,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Last week it was 154 yards of (lost) field position to the Vikings, and now the big plays time and time again today. We definitely need to get that going in the right direction because the momentum swings are really holding us back.”

The loss could be pointed to a blocked punt by Tampa Bay that turned into a 31-yard touchdown to make it 14-14 n the second quarter. Then a long kickoff return of 83 yards by Clifton Smith set up the Bucs with a short touchdown that made it 28-24 Packers. It was important as it came right after the Pack went up 11 at 28-17.

The stunning setback means the Packers are 4-4 after eight games. This after they were 4-2 just 14 days ago, and looking forward to getting some revenge against their old QB. Instead, it seems that last weeks loss to Brett Favre and the Vikings may have been a precursor to what happened in Florida.

“It’s discouraging,” nose tackle Ryan Pickett said. “It’s tough. It’s going to be hard to watch the film. I hate even talking about it. It’s going to be a long flight home, going to be hard.”’

Green Bay opened the game with a bang, as on the second play Aaron Rodgers threw 74 yards for a score to James Jones that made it quickly 7-0. The Pack seemed to have their way with Tampa Bay in terms of the stat columns, as they outgained Tampa Bay 404 to 279, and had the ball for 35:17 to 24:43 for Tampa Bay. All that now matters little.

“We did not take the team lightly at all because of the record,” McCarthy said. “ I was very concerned coming into this game. Any time (you play) a team coming off the bye week — if anything, we may have overworked (the players). That’s something I’ve got to look into. This is my responsibility. We were not prepared to the level that we should have been.”

And because of it, now about the only thing the Pack has left to play for is a wild card spot. And even that seems light years away right now.

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