Packers spent last 3 months authenticating the anomaly

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Zach Kruse
·2 min read
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was certain in the days and weeks following an early October defeat in Tampa Bay that the performance during his team’s first loss of the 2020 season was an anomaly and would eventually be revealed as nothing more than a momentary deviation from the norm.

Rodgers and the Packers then spent the next three months authenticating the claim.

The 38-10 loss to the Buccaneers, when superimposed over what the Packers accomplished over the course of the entire regular season, has to be considered an aberration.

All the things the Packers have built their season around – highly efficient passing, elite pass protection, situational dominance and winning the turnover battle – all went out the window for one afternoon in Tampa Bay.

It’d be one thing if the Buccaneers beat up on the Packers and other teams found ways of doing the same. But no other team – even in the Packers’ two other losses – really copied Tampa Bay’s blueprint, once again suggesting the performance was an anomaly.

There are lessons to be learned from the defeat, but a 15-game sample size tells us much more about a team than a one-game performance that, as the season went on, looked more and more like just a blip on the radar.

Consider:

vs. Tampa Bay

Season averages per game

Points

10

31.8

Turnovers

2

0.69

Total yards

201

389

Net passing yards

107

256.6

Sacks allowed

5

1.3

Interceptions

2

0.31

First downs

13

22.4

Yards per play

3.3

6.3

Yards per pass

2.7

8.1

QB dropbacks under pressure

18

7.9

Third down failures

10

5.7

The question for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game becomes this: Will lightning strike twice for the Bucs, or will Rodgers and the Packers prove the anomaly theory and play a style of football more emblematic of their other 15 games?

Maybe the Buccaneers are uniquely constructed to face the Packers. Maybe this team has all the pieces and schemes necessary for disrupting LaFleur’s machine. If so, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will prove it Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The alternate scenario: Maybe the Packers just had one disastrous afternoon on the road in early October, when uncharacteristic mistakes snowballed and everything went wrong against a talented team that pounced on every opportunity. This looks closer to reality, given everything the Packers accomplished before and after the defeat.

The Packers have established a strong identity as a football team, and anomalies don’t often repeat. The Buccaneers may bring confidence to Lambeau Field knowing they beat their title game opponent by 28 points three months prior, but the Packers should feel just as confident about their ability to play the way they want to play, regardless of opponent, based on the totality of their season.

List

7 things to know from Packers' first meeting with Buccaneers in 2020