After the Packers lost at home eight days ago to the gray-stubbled face of the franchise who had committed the ultimate indignity by donning a purple helmet with horns, we wondered what it would take to make the Cheeseheads put the indignity behind them.
Now we know.
Indeed, there’s nothing like a completely humiliating loss to one of the worst teams in the league to serve as the rancid sorbet for the moldy Fontinella that Favre crammed down the locals’ throats.
As the previously 0-7 Buccaneers managed to stay in the game early without generating much offense (thanks to a long interception return that created a very short field and a blocked punt that resulted in a 31-yard touchdown from Ronde Barber), it appeared that the Packers eventually would pull away.
But the most dangerous approach to playing a pathetic team is allowing said pathetic team to believe that it’s in the game beyond the first quarter or two of play.
That’s previously what the Packers did. With only a 21-17 lead at intermission, the Bucs were foolish enough to think that they had a chance to win.
And they were dumb enough to still believe it after a scoreless third quarter.
Even more amazingly, the Bucs thought that they could still pull it off even after the Packers pushed the score to 28-17.
But then it happened. An 83-yard kick return from Clifton Smith set the table for rookie Josh Freeman to fire his second touchdown pass of the day, cutting the lead to five with more than 11 minutes to play.
So the Packers probably felt like the Vikings did a week earlier, with a game that supposedly was in the bag suddenly up for grabs. The difference? The Vikes held off the Pack — the Pack couldn’t hold off the Bucs.
Freeman engineered a 72-yard drive that ended with his third touchdown pass of the day, and that gave the Bucs their first lead of the afternoon.
Next, the heir to Favre showed that he’s got a long way to go when it comes to working late-game magic, taking a sack to kill the first chance at a comeback and throwing a pick six to ice it.
Speaking of six, the Bucs managed that many sacks. As Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, Baby Swiss has given up 37 of them in eight games, putting the Packers on pace to allow (excuse me while I whip this . . . calculator . . . out) 74 for the season.
“Well, it has to stop,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “You can’t sit here
and keep taking sacks. I’m sure you’re tired of asking the question,
and I’m tired of talking about it.”
How tired is he of it? Already there are rumblings that offensive line coach James Campen could be fired soon, ten months after a January purge of most of the defensive coaching staff.
But dumping Campen could be too close to McCarthy for comfort, since McCarthy is supposedly an offensive genius. Indeed, dumping Campen could be a rest stop on the road to McCarthy being asked to hit the road.
Possibly with G.M. Ted Thompson taking a hike, too.
There’s still plenty of football left to be played, and the Packers in theory could turn it around. But, let’s face it, they lost to the Bucs. What will they do against the Cowboys or the Ravens or the Steelers or the Cardinals?
The good news? Maybe the early Thanksgiving Day game between the Packers and the Lions won’t be a tryptophan-fueled snooze fest after all.
For the Bucs, it’s not time to start plotting out the possible postseason tiebreakers. But at least it will quiet talk of coach Raheem Morris being one-and-done in his first head-coaching gig.
And the talk clearly was out there. Tight end Kellen Winslow indirectly acknowledged it after the game.
“We just wanted to win for these players and these coaches,” Winslow said after the game, via JoeBucsFan.com. “Especially
for Rah. We know he’s under a lot of pressure. We’re not letting him go
nowhere.” (Cue the commenters who’ll explain that this technically means that the team plans to let the coach go somewhere.)
Meanwhile, “Rah” gushed about Freeman, who got his first career win in his first career start.
“That’s why we brought him here to lead this franchise,” Morris said, per the Tampa Tribune. “It reminded me of his first college
That’s fine. But why didn’t Freeman get the nod sooner? Though the Bucs might not have won many of those seven games they lost, if Freeman is capable of playing every week like he played in his debut, the Bucs might not have been competing for space at the bottom of the barrel with the likes of the Browns, Rams, Lions, and Chiefs.