By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports staff writer
TAMPA- In the highly-touted matchup between two of the National Football League’s most decorated passers of all time, everyone was fixated on who would come up with the standout performance. That actually didn’t come from either Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, it ended up being Tampa Bay’s defense stealing the spotlight.
Tampa Bay forced Rodgers’ first two interceptions of the season, as the Buccaneers’ defense came up huge in a dominating 38-10 victory over Green Bay (4-1) Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. With the victory, the Buccaneers improve to 4-2 on the season and next Sunday night will face the Las Vegas Raiders at the new Allegiant Stadium.
Many around the league wondered if Tampa Bay could bounce back from its embarrassing 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears, in which the Buccaneers were marred by a number of penalties and missed opportunities on offense. This time around, however, the Buccaneers ended up committing no penalties, no turnovers and had no sacks given up. This is only the second time this has happened in the league since 1972. The other time also included Bruce Arians. It was when the Indianapolis Colts beat the Cleveland Browns in 1999. Arians was the quarterback’s coach for the Colts that season.
Brady didn’t have to be great, as the defense leads all units in the NFL against stopping the run and they flustered Rodgers early. After Green Bay jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, Jamel Dean picked off Rodgers and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. The turnover ended up being what the doctor ordered for Tampa Bay and that’s when the game spiraled out of control for Green Bay.
On Green Bay’s next possession, safety Mike Edwards picked off Rodgers off a deflected pass and the Buccaneers followed it up with a touchdown run from Ronald Jones. Jones had another strong game in the backfield for Tampa Bay (4-2), rushing for 113 yards on 23 carries and scored twice. Brady finished with 166 yards on 17-of-27 passing and two touchdown passes.
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense pressured Rodgers from all angles and several players got in on the action, with Jason Pierre-Paul recording 1.5 sacks, bringing his season total to 5.5. Linebackers LaVonte David and Devin White also recorded sacks in the victory. One of the more memorable moments during the contest was just before halftime when Ndamukong Suh sacked Rodgers and then the two had an exchange of words before going into intermission.
The Buccaneers will be playing in primetime the next two weeks, with next Sunday night in Las Vegas and then the following week Tampa Bay will face the New York Giants on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. The Raiders are coming off a bye week and did not play on Sunday.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.