Breaking down Packers’ 34-20 loss to Buccaneers in Week 15

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Breaking down Packers’ 34-20 loss to Buccaneers in Week 15

The Green Bay Packers trailed 3-0 after both teams’ opening possession, went into halftime down 13-10 and then lost control of the contest when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to open the second half in a 34-20 loss to their old NFC Central rivals on Sunday at Lambeau Field.The Packers lost a second consecutive game and dropped to 6-8. Now, anything less than a 3-0 stretch to finish the season will likely mean missing out on the playoffs for the second straight season.Here’s what went right, what went wrong, what it means and what’s next for the Packers after Sunday’s 34-20 loss:

What went right

  • Rookie Dontayvion Wicks caught six passes for 97 yards, both career highs. He fought through an ankle injury and consistently provided big plays.
  • Jordan Love and Jayden Reed combined for one of the offense’s best touchdowns. Love eluded pressure, extended the play and threw a dart on the run to Reed, who made an impressive catch along the boundary of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-14.
  • Aaron Jones returned and immediately ripped off a 20-yard run. He turned 17 touches into 69 yards.
  • The Packers sacked Baker Mayfield five times, including a strip-sack from Kingsley Enagbare that set up a quick touchdown. Kenny Clark had a pair of sacks, including one on third down in the red zone. Clark also batted a pass on third down.
  • Rookie tight end Tucker Kraft had another explosive play (36 yards) and a touchdown (5-yard score off a screen).
  • Anders Carlson made both of his field goal attempts and both extra points.

What went wrong

  • Just about everything regarding the pass defense against Baker Mayfield, who completed almost 80 percent of his passes, averaged over 17 yards per completion and threw four touchdown passes without an interception.
  • The Buccaneers averaged 7.5 yards per play, scored on six of their first eight drives and likely would have scored 40 or more points had they not been more interested in killing off the clock on the final drive.
  • De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker got picked on over and over and over again in coverage. The entire back seven of the defense — inside linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties — had a miserable day in coverage.
  • Overall, Mayfield killed the Packers in zone coverage.
  • Jordan Love missed what should have been a simple touchdown pass to Jayden Reed on the opening possession. They were 0-for-2 on fourth down overall.
  • A competitive game at half turned one-sided when the Packers went three-and-out and the Buccaneers scored touchdowns on three-straight possessions to open the second half. Tampa Bay gained 202 yards in the second half.
  • The Bucs converted first downs and eventually scored from the following situations: 3rd-and-6 (touchdown), 2nd-and-19 and 2nd-and-29 (field goal), 3rd-and-6 and 3rd-and-12 (touchdown), 2nd-and-18 and 3rd-and-8 (touchdown), 3rd-and-4 and 3rd-and-4 (touchdown).
  • The Packers finished 2-for-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone, with two field goals and one turnover on downs.
  • Love lost a fumble late on a 4th-and-long play with the Packers down 14 points in the fourth quarter.
  •  The Buccaneers converted 7-of-11 opportunities and then ended the game with a fourth down conversion late.

What it means

The rollercoaster season continues in Green Bay. The Packers, once the young darlings of the NFL after wins over the Lions and Chiefs got them back to 6-6, are now teetering on the edge of playoff contention after a second consecutive disappointing defeat. Can Matt LaFleur’s team reel off three straight wins and sneak into the postseason? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, as the last few months proved the Packers can beat anyone when they play well in all three phases and lose to anyone when they struggle in all three phases. They could go 0-3 just as easily as 3-0 over the final three. The Packers need to get healthy in a few key areas, stop playing sloppy football on offense and fix all the issues on defense, but that’s a lot to ask of a young, inconsistent team this late in the season.

What’s next

A must win game arrives Sunday in Charlotte against the Panthers. Carolina is 2-12 on the season but coming off a 9-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons that snapped a six-game losing streak. Can the Packers bounce back from back-to-back defeats and beat a team that hasn’t scored more than 20 points since mid-October? The Packers can keep their season alive with a win, but nothing is a guarantee when Matt LaFleur’s volatile football team is involved.