Buccaneers' defense rattles Rodgers in win over Packers
|Chris O'Meara / Associated Press|
|Kicking the go-ahead field goal for the Buccaneers capped a difficult week for Matt Bryant.|
TAMPA, Fla. -- Derrick Brooks hasn't been himself this season. A sore hamstring has seen to that, feeding the perception that the 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker and Tampa Bay's aging defense are slowing down.
Aaron Rodgers will tell you otherwise.
Brooks had one of three interceptions off Green Bay's young quarterback and also forced a fumble that Jermaine Phillips returned 38 yards for a touchdown Sunday, helping the Bucs (3-1) beat the Packers 30-21.
"Unbelieveable," coach Jon Gruden said. "We know he's been nursing and working through an injury. What he played like today was the Derrick Brooks that everybody recognizes. He made plays sideline to sideline. There's a lot of strength left in Derrick Brooks and we need him in the final 12 weeks."
Rogers threw two touchdowns, both to Greg Jennings, who had six receptions for 109 yards, but was sacked three times. He left the game for one series with a shoulder injury midway through the fourth quarter.
The fourth-year pro returned briefly after Green Bay (2-2) fell behind 23-21 on Matt Bryant's third field goal of the game. But he was hit from the blindside as he launched a pass on second down, and the ball was picked off by Gaines Adams with just over 2 minutes to go.
The Packers said Rodgers will be examined Monday. The quarterback thinks he might have separated the shoulder when he was tackled after scrambling for a 7-yard gain in the third quarter.
Both Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy said it was too early to predict whether he'll be able to play next week against Atlanta.
|Consecutive pass attempts without an interception in Packers history:|
"I'm sure we'll take a look at it (Monday)," Rodgers said. "If there's a way I can go, I'll go."
Earnest Graham put away Tampa Bay's third straight victory with Brian Griese at quarterback, breaking a 47-yard run to the Packers 1 and then scoring on the next play to make it 30-21. He finished with 111 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Rodgers was 14-of-27 for 165 yards. He threw a 25-yard TD pass to Jennings on Green Bay's opening drive of the game, then threw a 48-yarder to Jennings on the last play before he was removed from the game to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 20-14.
When Bryant, kicking four days after his infant son died at home, booted a 23-yarder to put the Bucs ahead, coach Mike McCarthy didn't hesitate to send his starter back onto the field to try to pull out a win.
Matt Flynn was 2-of-5 for 6 yards on the two possessions he replaced Rodgers. The Packers finished with 181 yards total offense and just eight first downs -- one in the second half, on Rodgers' long TD throw to Jennings.
Still, the Packers had a chance to win, thanks to mistakes by Griese, who threw three interceptions for the second straight week. Charles Woodson returned the last pick 62 yards for a TD that gave Green Bay a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"Offensively we were poor. We've just made a number of the same mistakes that we've made the first three weeks. Penalties. Turnovers," McCarthy said. "It's very difficult to win a football game like that."
A week after throwing a franchise-record 67 times and accumulating a career-high 407 yards passing in an overtime win over Chicago, Griese completed 15 of 30 passes for 149 yards. But the day belonged to the defense, and Bryant, whose 3-month-old son Tryson, died at home on Wednesday.
"It's been a very, very difficult week, especially for Matt," Gruden said. "You have to pray for him. He's a man of very few words, always has been, always will be. I think he needed the game today. He needed football today, and did he really perform."
The Packers played nearly the entire second quarter in their own territory, with Rodgers throwing two interceptions to set up 10 points and a short punt giving the Bucs the ball at the Green Bay 41 leading to one of Bryant's field goals.
Rodgers was one of just three starting quarterbacks who didn't throw an interception during the first three weeks of the season. He extended his streak of consecutive attempts without a pick to 108 before a throw intended for Brandon Jackson deflected off the running back's hands into Brooks' arms on the first play of the second quarter.
Brooks, slowed by a hamstring injury sustained during a season-opening loss at New Orleans, nearly had two other interceptions. He forced Ryan Grant's fumble midway through the third quarter, and Phillips scooped up the ball and raced to the end zone for a 20-7 lead.
"This is a testament to this team, just finding a way to win in the fourth quarter," Brooks said. "No matter what phase of the game or who it is, we've been able to come up with big plays. To me, that's the sign of a good football team."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press