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Buccaneers 38, Packers 10

Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski connection helps Buccaneers turn showdown vs. Packers into a rout

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes Sunday.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes Sunday.Mike Ehrmann/Getty

TAMPA, Fla. — So much for Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. A stingy Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense turned a rare meeting between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks into a mismatch on Sunday.

Brady outplayed Rodgers, however, a young Bucs secondary was equally impressive in setting the tone for a 38-10 rout of the previously unbeaten Packers, who unraveled after taking a 10-0 lead and limiting Tampa Bay to just five offensive plays in the first quarter.

Rodgers threw two interceptions — Green Bay’s first turnovers of the season — within a three-pass span of the second quarter to turn the 10-point lead into a 14-10 deficit.

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Cornerback Jamel Dean returned the first pick 32 yards for a touchdown. Safety Mike Edwards ran the other back 38 yards to the Packers 2 to set up another TD.

“Jamel made a hell of a play. It was a huge play. It sparked us,” Brady said.

“That pick-6 changed the entire ballgame,” coach Bruce Arians said.

It was the 43-year-old Brady’s first signature victory since signing with the Bucs (4-2) after a historic 20-year run with the Patriots, and he got his favorite target into the mix, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 28-10 halftime lead. It was Gronkowski’s first TD since December 2018 and the 79th in the regular season for the quarterback/tight end tandem — tied for fourth on the all-time list with Miami’s Dan Marino and Mark Clayton.

“I thought everybody stepped up and stepped in,” Arians said.

Brady also threw a 7-yard TD pass to rookie Tyler Johnson, and Ronald Jones rushed for 113 yards and a pair of TDs for Tampa Bay, which didn’t turn the ball over, allow a sack, or commit a single penalty after being flagged 11 times in a one-point loss to Chicago in its previous game.

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“We took care of what beat us last week,” linebacker Devin White said.

Both of Rodgers' interceptions — his first with multiple picks since throwing three in a loss to Carolina on Dec. 17, 2017 — came on throws intended for Davante Adams, who had a team-leading six catches for 61 yards in his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him two games.

“I don’t feel like we ever got into a rhythm. Even with 10 points to start the game, we had off-schedule plays to kind of keep drives alive,” Rodgers said.

“I felt good about both throws. Missed the one slightly inside today, the other just looked like it was tight coverage,” Rodgers added. “Those were frustrating plays, especially up 10-0 there, giving them basically 14 points, obviously changed the momentum of the game. I don’t feel like we were very efficient before that. We obviously weren’t very efficient after that.”

Rodgers finished 16 of 35 for 160 yards and no touchdowns after completing 70.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 13 TDs in Green Bay’s first four games.

Brady, meanwhile, was 17 of 27 for 166 yards and two TDs without an interception. Gronkowski led the Bucs with five receptions for 78 yards — his best game since ending a one-year retirement to join Brady in Tampa Bay.

“I thought Tom and Rob had great connections. We got the matchup we were looking for on the fade ball,” Arians said. “Gronk did a heck of a job adjusting on that ball and getting the touchdown. I just wish he could have spiked it with his right shoulder, but his right shoulder’s hurt.”

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It was just the third time Brady and Rodgers have faced each other in their long successful careers, with the Packers winning, 26-21, in 2014 at Green Bay and Brady’s Patriots winning, 31-17, at Gillette Stadium in 2018.

And although both insisted during the week that it wasn’t Brady vs. Rodgers, the friends expressed mutual admiration for one another’s accomplishments while acknowledging it would be fun sharing the field with the Packers trying to remain unbeaten and the Bucs looking to gauge their progress against one of the NFL’s top teams.

Brady noted how important it would be to minimize mistakes, something no quarterback had done better through the first five weeks of the season.

In addition to becoming the first team in NFL history to score at least 150 points and commit no turnovers through the first four games of a season, the Packers had only allowed three sacks before Sunday.

The Bucs had two of their four sacks by halftime.

“It was a pretty frustrating day. We got outcoached, got outplayed. You’ve got to give the Bucs all the credit in the world. They had a good game plan and they really took it to us in really all three phases,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we stick together. We’ve got to bounce back. ... If you really look critically throughout the course of our week, it wasn’t our best (week of practice) and it showed today. That’s what happens,” LaFleur added. "We’ll find out what we’re all about. We’ve got to hit that reset button and bounce back.''

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BRADY VS. RODGERS


INJURIES

Packers: LT David Bakhtiari left in the third quarter with a chest injury, leaving Green Bay to play the remainder of the game without its best offensive lineman. S Darnell Savage (quad) missed a portion of the second half... CB Kevin King (quadriceps) and RB Tyler Ervin (wrist) were inactive.

Buccaneers: RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) sat out for the second time in three games. DL Khalil Davis (ankle) also was inactive because of injury.

UP NEXT

Packers: at Houston next Sunday

Buccaneers: at Las Vegas next Sunday night.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL




Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reeled off 38 straight points en route to a 38-10 victory over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers on Sunday in Florida.

The Buccaneers (4-2) fell behind when the Packers scored on their first two drives, but the vaunted Tampa Bay defense, ranked second in the NFL entering the game, took over and set the tone the rest of the way.

First the defense cut the lead to 10-7 with an interception return for a touchdown by Jamel Dean, then it set up a short touchdown run by Ronald Jones with another interception that was returned to the 2-yard line. The Bucs punched it in on first down for a 14-10 lead.

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Brady went to work after that, leading two drives for a touchdown and another for a field goal while the defense shut down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay (4-1).

Brady hit 17 of 27 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Jones ran for 113 yards on 23 carries and scored on two 1-yard touchdown runs. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert came in for mop-up duty in the final five minutes for the Buccaneers.

Rob Gronkowski, the tight end who came out of retirement to join his former Patriots teammate Brady in Tampa Bay, had his best game as a Buccaneer. Gronkowski, who caught 79 touchdown passes during his nine seasons with the Patriots, had five receptions on eight targets for 78 yards and a touchdown.

It was Gronkowski’s first touchdown as a member of the Buccaneers. Entering Sunday, Gronkowski, who played nine seasons in New England, had 12 receptions for 140 yards. Gronkowski had three catches for 29 yards in the first half.

After falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Brady and the Buccaneers scored 28 straight points to take a 28-10 lead just before halftime. With 1:03 left in the first half, Brady hit Gronkowski on a 12-yard touchdown pass.

The score capped a seven-play drive that began at Tampa Bay’s 38.

The Packers scored on their first two possessions, but then had their next four drives end with two interceptions and two punts.

Brady hit 14 of 16 passes in the first half for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Jones had 12 rushes for 41 yards.

Rodgers hit 11 of 25 passes for 128 yards in the first half.

Here are updates as posted throughout the game by the Globe staff.

Third quarter: Buccaneers 38, Packers 10

It’s turned into a rout. Ronald Jones ran for his second touchdown as the Buccaneers have taken complete control of this highly anticipated matchup with 2:43 left in the third quarter.

The Buccaneers' defense, ranked second overall entering Sunday’s game, has kept the Packers in check and Brady and the offense have run off 38 straight points.

A 25-yard run by Jones and an 18-yard reception by Rob Gronkowski highlighted a seven-play drive.

Third quarter: Buccaneers 31, Packers 10

A 50-yard field goal by Bucs kicker Ryan Succop made it 31-10 early in the third quarter. The kick capped a six-play drive that began at Tampa Bay’s 25 to open the second half.

Second quarter: Buccaneers 28, Packers 10

After falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Brady and the Buccaneers have reeled off 28 straight points to take a 28-10 lead just before halftime. With 1:03 left in the first half, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 12-yard touchdown pass play.

The TD capped a seven-play drive that began at Tampa Bay’s 38.

It was Gronkowski’s first touchdown as a member of the Buccaneers. Entering Sunday, Gronkowski, who played nine seasons in New England, had 12 receptions for 140 yards. Gronkowski had three catches for 29 yards in the first half.

Gronkowski caught 79 touchdown passes while with the Patriots.

The Packers scored on their first two possessions, but then had their next four drives end with two interceptions and two punts.

Brady hit 14 of 16 passes in the first half for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Ronald Jones had 12 rushes for 41 yards.

Rodgers hit 11 of 25 passes for 128 yards in the first half.

Second quarter: Buccaneers 21, Packers 10

Brady recovered a low snap and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson as the Bucs' offense got untracked and put together an 11-play drive for 21-10 lead.

The Bucs covered 65 yards and used 6:05 of clock time on the drive that began at Tampa Bay’s 35. Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski twice for a total of 17 yards on the drive.

Second quarter: Buccaneers 14, Packers 10

After watching the Packers march down the field on a pair of long drives in the first quarter, the Bucs' defense has come to life and put Tampa Bay in front in the second.

On the Packers' possession immediately following an interception returned for a touchdown, another interception set up a quick score. Mike Edwards picked off a Rodgers pass at the 39 and returned it to the 2-yard line, where Ronald Jones ran it in on first down.

The Bucs have 14 points, but only 25 yards passing and 16 yards rushing early in the second quarter. The two interceptions are the first two thrown by Rodgers this season.


Second quarter: Packers 10, Buccaneers 7

While Brady and the Bucs' offense hasn’t been able to do much, the highly rated Bucs defense has produced a score to put Tampa Bay on the scoreboard. Jamel Dean intercepted Rodgers at the 32 and returned it for a touchdown.

It was the first interception of the season thrown by Rodgers.

First quarter: Packers 10, Buccaneers 0

Aaron Jones plunged through the Buccaneers' goal-line defense for a 1-yard touchdown touchdown on Green Bay’s second possession, and the Packers went ahead by two scores early.

The Packers have held the ball for 12:05 so far in the first quarter, with drives of 11 and 10 plays leading to a touchdown and field goal. The Bucs held the ball for 2:55 in the first quarter.

The Bucs' defense entered the game ranked first against the run and second overall, but it gave up 107 yards in the air and 38 on the ground in the first quarter.

First quarter: Packers 3, Buccaneers 0

Green Bay capped its opening drive with a field goal. The vaunted Tampa Bay defense bent a bit, but did not break as it stopped Green Bay at the 21-yard line, where it settled for a 39-yard kick by Mason Crosby. The Packers took the opening kickoff 54 yards in 10 plays, with Rodgers completing four of seven passed for 54 yards.

On Tampa Bay’s first possession, the Buccaneers went three-and-out and punted after gaining nine yards.

Preview

They’ve been in the NFL a collective 37 years, but quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have only faced off twice. That changes on Sunday, when the Green Bay Packers visit Tampa Bay to take on Brady and the Buccaneers at 4:25 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox.

The all-time series between the two stars is tied at 1-1. Most recently, Brady and the Patriots beat the Packers, 31-17, in 2018 in New England. They lost on the road in Green Bay, 26-21, in 2014.

This time around, Rodgers comes in packing some power: The Packers are 4-0, and have won their last nine regular-season games. They’re the first team in NFL history to score at least 150 points and not commit a turnover through the first four games in a season. And get this: They have scored at least 30 points in each of their first four games without turning over the ball. The only team to have a longer streak than that? The Patriots, of course, who did it in seven straight games in 2010.

Brady has his own edge: The Buccaneers defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL against the run, and No. 2 overall on defense.

“I’m not defending Aaron," Brady said this week. "We’ve got a whole defense that’s doing that. But from my standpoint, what does that mean? I can play a role in that by doing our job on offense, so that a guy like that doesn’t have his offense on the field trying to score points. You just can’t give guys like that extra opportunities because they make you pay.”

The Buccaneers are coming off a 20-19 loss to the Bears, which is perhaps more memorable for Brady’s mental lapse as time expired.

They’ll be looking to get a lot out of receiver Mike Evans, who is tied with Minnesota’s Adam Thielen for the league lead in touchdown catches with six. But Packers tight end Robert Tonyan isn’t far behind, tied with three others for third place with five.

Pregame scenes

Aaron Rodgers (right) and Jamaal Williams during warmups.
Aaron Rodgers (right) and Jamaal Williams during warmups.Mike Ehrmann/Getty
The Green Bay Packers had some live fan support in Tampa.
The Green Bay Packers had some live fan support in Tampa.Mike Ehrmann/Getty


The Buccaneers allows some fans at Sunday's game.
The Buccaneers allows some fans at Sunday's game.Mike Ehrmann/Getty