Packers 14, Bucs 12: Instant analysis of Tampa Bay’s Week 3 loss

Let’s be honest, the fact that this game ended up coming down to a two-point conversion in the final seconds is nothing short of a miracle.

The Bucs started a third-stringer at left tackle, were missing their top three wide receivers, and gave up back-to-back touchdown drives to start the game, while nearly giving up a third.

But a clutch takeaway turned the tide, the defense settled down, and Tom Brady still found a way to give the Bucs a chance despite throwing to a group of pass-catchers that might all have been inactive if everybody was healthy.

Outside of his fumble, Russell Gage finally lived up to his $10 million per year price tag, leading the Bucs with 87 yards on 12 receptions, including the team’s only touchdown in the final seconds. Cole Beasley made an impact despite having only been with the team for a few days.

The key was the defense once again, though, settling down after their rocky start, and locking in for another gem of a performance. This time they did it against Aaron Rodgers, who spent most of the game frustrated after that huge fumble into Tampa Bay’s end zone. Top draft pick Logan Hall got his first career sack, Logan Ryan had a hand in both of the Bucs’ takeaways, and the defense kept giving the ball back to Brady over and over again in the second half, keeping Tampa Bay in the game much longer than they should have been.

The kicking game was strong, as well, with Ryan Succop nailing both of his field goals, and rookie punter Jake Camarda averaging nearly 50 yards per kick.

The Bucs have only lost six of their last 30 games, so it’s understandable to be a bit spoiled at this point. It’s hard not to expect a win every week, and there were plenty of opportunities for the Bucs to steal this one, too.

But this time, they just didn’t have enough to overcome everything that was working against them, and they didn’t take full advantage of the chances they had in critical moments to score an unlikely victory against a much healthier team that also happened to have their own future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback.

There are plenty of things that need to get cleaned up, from play-calling and execution on offense to the sluggish start on defense, and the unforced errors that kept this one just out of reach. A delay of game penalty, at home, with the game on the line, just can’t happen. And it never should have come down to that, after all of the opportunities the offense was given by the defense, especially in the second half.

But 2-1 isn’t a bad place to be after three weeks, especially after opening up with two road games in a row. Losses aren’t fun, but everything the Bucs want is still in front of them, and once they get healthy, they’ll still be able to accomplish it.

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Packers 14, Bucs 12: Everything you need to know

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire