Anticipated QB Matchup Between Brady, Rodgers Puts Buccaneers Struggles On Display

TAMPA — The highlight of this game and perhaps this entire season so far for Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense came late in the third quarter when the quarterback, seeing no receivers open (again), took off running.

Let me repeat: Tom Brady, 45, took off running.

It was a sight to behold when he gained 18 yards as the middle of the field opened up like a veritable Red Sea on his third-longest career run.

“I saw a lot of green grass and no Packers,” Brady said after Sunday’s loss. “I can turn a 40-yard gain into 18 yards better than anyone. Unfortunately when I slid I broke my knee brace and had to get it on the sidelines but if I’m running it, it’s usually not a good thing.”

It indeed was not a good thing.

It wasn’t good because Brady scrambling must never be a team’s best offensive play of a game, much less a season. And it looked like both.

It wasn’t good because the play was nullified by a penalty. Which happened a lot Sunday.

It wasn’t good because all those things together speak to the struggles last year’s touchdown passing king and perhaps the greatest quarterback in the game is experiencing so far in 2022.

Green Bay Packers 14.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12.

Anticipated QB matchup fizzles

The showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Brady was supposed to be about offensive fireworks and dynamic plays by two of the best to ever take a center snap.

It wasn’t really that for either player.

Rodgers completed 27 of 35 passes for 255 yards with 2 TDs and 1 interception. His quarterback rating was 103.9.

So, good. Not great, but good.

Plus Rodgers and his team won the game, which is kind of the point.

But Brady lost and it was a slog most of the afternoon before the largest crowd ever to see the Buccaneers play a game at Raymond James Stadium.

“We had penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities,” Brady said, counting more problems than his team had touchdowns. “The defense played great. We have to play better on offense, we have to do a lot better job, we haven’t scored many points all season. Three games we got to be a lot better.”

The Buccaneers have scored three offensive touchdowns in three games.

Three.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 25: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks with Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing the two point conversion against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter in the game at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

They have not scored a touchdown in the first half this season.

That’s all a problem if the quarterback is someone lacking reputation or accomplishments. But Brady has seven Super Bowl rings, lest you forget. One of those came with the Buccaneers and he’s trying to add another this season.

But this fake offense that averaged 2.4 yards per rush, fumbled three times and lost two, and (again) got in the end zone only once is not what a Brady unit ever looks like.

“Our job is to go out there and score points, were just not doing it…” Brady said. “They did a better job than us. They have a good defense, a good physical defense. I give them a lot of credit. They forced us to make a lot of good plays and we just didn’t do a great job of executing.”

Reason For Buccaneers Struggles

This is not what anyone expected from the Bucs. And it was jarring seeing Brady afterward failing to find reasons things went sideways in much the same way he failed to put points on the scoreboard.

“Yeah, we just got to do a better job,” he said. “I wish it was one thing. We’re not running as good as we’re capable. The passing game hasn’t been very good, so …”

Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles went through the litany of reasons his offensive unit is substandard now and he started with a potential game-tying two point conversion at the end of the game that went awry, mostly, because the Bucs picked up a delay of game penalty before the attempt.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 25: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers calls a play against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter in the game at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Inexcusable.

“It wasn’t just that moment, there were a few things that happened that we can’t let happen,” Bowles said. “We had six crucial penalties at different times that cost us the ballgame. We know they’re a good football team, hat’s off to them. But we made some dumb mistakes ourselves.”

Bowles called the trend his offense is suffering “concerning.” But he rejected the idea the Bucs didn’t perform simply because they played with a diminished lineup.

The Tampa lineup did not include receivers Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. So the team’s three starters missed the game.

Starting left tackle Donovan Smith also was inactive.

“We shot ourselves in the foot and that’s something we can’t do,” Bowles said. “Talent has nothing to do with it.”

Buccaneers Get Talent Injection For Next Game

Maybe, but the talent is about to get better because Bowles said Jones will return to the lineup next week after wanting to play Sunday but being held out by the team. Evans, serving a one game suspension, also is expected back with the team Monday morning and available for next week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The warning from that, obviously, is Evans played the previous two games and Jones played one of those. And yet, the Bucs scored one offensive touchdown in each of those first two games.

So something’s got to change very quickly while the rest of the NFL watches.

“No one will feel sorry for us,” Brady said, “nor should we. We’ve just got to go back to work.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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