Tom Brady, Bucs defense lay waste to hot start by Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Yahoo Sports

Aaron Rodgers made the rarest of mistakes on Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback threw a sideline pass intended for Davante Adams on a third-and-10 early in the second quarter. Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean jumped the route, snagged the pass and returned the interception for the first Buccaneers touchdown of the day.

It would not be their last. The third career pick-six thrown by Rodgers and his first interception of 2020 started an avalanche of Tampa Bay scoring as the Buccaneers reeled off 38 unanswered points.

Tampa Bay rode a swarming defense and and an offense ignited by the revival of Tom Brady’s connection with Rob Gronkowski to a 38-10 win in the showcase game of the day in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Lavonte David (54) and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) team up to sack Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Lavonte David (54) and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) team up to sack Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Aaron Rodgers struggled against a swarming Tampa Bay defense. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Bucs blowout resets NFC race

What was billed as a rare meeting between two of the game’s all-time great quarterbacks turned into a romp for the home team and a celebration for the fans scattered across Raymond James Stadium.

For Brady and the Buccaneers, it was redemption after their last game ended in a loss to the Chicago Bears and jokes at Brady’s expense thanks to some questionable fourth-quarter game management.

For Rodgers and the Packers, it served as a screeching halt to a scorching hot 4-0 start that left them atop the short list of early season NFC favorites.

By the time it was over, Brady vs. Rodgers devolved into Tim Boyle vs. Blaine Gabbert, as the services of both superstar quarterbacks were no longer needed late in the fourth quarter.

The Bucs improved to 4-2 with the win. And the race in the NFC got that much more interesting. Especially considering that this year’s playoffs are expanded to seven teams in each conference with only the top seed earning a bye.

Bucs swarm Rodgers after Packers take early lead

Green Bay scored the first 10 points of the game, seemingly picking up where it left off in a 30-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago. But from the moment Rodgers threw his pick-six, Tampa Bay dominated.

The Bucs finished the game with 21 first downs to 13 for the Packers. They outgained Green Bay 324 yards to 201 while holding the Packers to 3.3 yards per play. Tampa Bay defenders sacked Rodgers four times and intercepted him twice. They also logged a late-game sack on Boyle, Rodgers’ fourth-quarter replacement.

Rodgers did not throw a touchdown while completing 16 of 35 pass attempts for 160 yards. It added up to a 35.4 quarterback rating.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers calls a play against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers calls a play against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Tom Brady’s efficient outing was more than enough on Sunday. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Brady gets the job done

Brady wasn’t prolific. But he more than got the job done while completing 17 of 27 pass attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He did not take a sack. He did not turn the ball over.

He did reignite his relationship with Gronkowski, who caught five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in his best game by far in Tampa Bay.

With Leonard Fournette ruled out with an ankle injury, Ronald Jones carried the Bucs on the ground with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

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