Sports specs with Sam

Packers given a wake-up call through 38-10 defeat by the Buccaneers

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Before their bye week last week, the Green Bay Packers appeared as one of the dominant teams in the NFC — sprinting to a 4-0 start to their season and looking nearly unstoppable on offense.

Their matchup on Sunday against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of the most anticipated matchups of the NFL season so far. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have shown up for matchups like these so many times.

This time, however, this was not the case. The Buccaneers’ defense smothered Green Bay’s offense in a 38-10 defeat.

This game brought back similar memories from last season — as Green Bay was 8-2 at their bye and playing great and then suffered a 37-8 embarrassing loss against the San Francisco 49ers, who would later dominate them in the NFC Championship game and end their season.

This comparison was brought up in the post-game media sessions and Packers players brushed off this loss as an aberration, not a repeat of last year’s events.

“This year’s team is not last year’s team,” Adrian Amos, the team’s starting safety, said.

Rodgers addressed the team’s struggles in the game despite starting off the game with a promising drive, as they marched right down the field at the beginning of the 1st quarter.

“This is, I believe, an anomaly, not the beginning of a trend,” Rodgers said after the game. “We’ve got a chance to prove me right next week.”

Despite the team’s confidence, their track record when playing the top teams in the NFC the past few years has left a lot to be desired and two years in a row Green Bay has appeared to get off to fast starts in the season with the help of a favorable schedule.

The only solid team Green Bay played in their first four wins was the New Orleans Saints, as their other wins came against NFC bottom-dwellers the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions, and the Atlanta Falcons, who have a combined 4-13 record so far this season.

Even the Saints do not look like the same caliber team as last year, as Drew Brees, their 41-year-old quarterback, is starting to show his age a lot more.

Green Bay has a few more favorable matchups coming up against the Houston Texans and the Minnesota Vikings, but after that they will have a good test on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, who just defeated the Los Angeles Rams but have had an up and down start to their season.

Green Bay’s schedule is pretty favorable for the rest of the season, so they could conceivably have a repeat of last year and enter the playoffs as one of the top seeds only to be outclassed in the championship game.

However, yesterday’s game could also be seen as an anomaly, as it is hard to imagine Rodgers and their passing game struggling in another game this season the way they did against Tampa Bay.

Rodgers rarely throws interceptions and he had two in this game, and he especially rarely throws pick-sixes, as he threw only the third one of his career in this game.

Green Bay may come to regret their lack of addressing their wide receiver needs in the offseason, which will definitely come up if the offense continues to struggle in big games.

“There’s a little bit of wake-up to stop feeling ourselves so much and get back to the things that got us to this position,” Rodgers said. “I think this would be, unfortunately but fortunately, something we can really grow from.”

Time will tell if Green Bay can hang with the best teams in the NFC or not.

Janssen can be reached at [email protected]