Green Bay Packers (11-4) 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-13) 3
Sunday December 21st 2014 (at Tampa Bay)
Josh McCown was sacked seven times as the Bucs were held to six first downs and 109 yards of offense during Sunday afternoon’s loss to Clay Matthews and the Packers. McCown also threw his 13th interception, and Tampa Bay was limited to 16 rushing yards on 14 tries. Photo: Tampa Tribune
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers flips the ball past Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson during the fourth quarter in Tampa. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) is stopped by Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Sam Barrington (58) during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
GAME RECAP (SportsNetwork.com)
(TAMPA BAY) - The Packers clinched a spot in the playoffs for the sixth straight season on the backs of their defense, limiting the Buccaneers to 109 yards of offense in a 20-3 win over Tampa Bay Sunday. Next week the Packers host the Detroit Lions, and the winner of that game clinches the NFC North title. Detroit rallied for a 20-14 win at Chicago Sunday. "This football team put itself in a great position to accomplish its goal, and that's to win this division," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Green Bay's tough defense sacked Josh McCown seven times, including 2 1/2 from Clay Matthews and two from Julius Peppers. On the Bucs' last offensive play of the game, McCown was under duress and threw an interception to defensive lineman Datone Jones. Offensively the Packers (11-4) were led by Aaron Rodgers once again as he threw for 318 yards and a touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers completed 31- of-40 passes. Nelson caught nine passes for 113 yards and fellow receiver Randall Cobb set career highs with 11 catches and 131 receiving yards. Eddie Lacy ran for 99 yards on 17 carries, including a 44-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter. Tampa Bay (2-13) got only 16 rushing yards, led by Doug Martin with 17. His longest run of the day was four yards. McCown completed just 12-of-26 passes for 147 yards. Vincent Jackson caught three passes for 60 yards, and Mike Evans added 49 yards on four receptions. After the Buccaneers landed some big hits on Rodgers early on, the Packers broke the scoreless deadlock with less than a minute left in the first quarter. On a toss play, Lacy burst through the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle from Danny Lansanah and beat the Bucs defense down the left sideline for a 44-yard score. Green Bay drove down the field on its following possession but Mason Crosby missed a 48-yard field goal attempt. He would hit a 42-yarder on Green Bay's next drive to extend its lead to 10-0. After that field goal, the Buccaneers offense was finally able to move the chains for the first time in the game. McCown's short pass to Evans turned into a 22-yard gain on 2nd-and-21 for their initial first down of the game and a 40-yard pass to Jackson kept the ball moving. They would convert a fourth down attempt to extend the drive but settled for a 43-yard Patrick Murray field goal as time expired for a 10-3 Green Bay lead at the half. The Bucs opened the second half with another 3-and-out, and the Packers looked to extend their lead. However, a 13-play drive culminated in no points when Tampa Bay made consecutive stops at the 1-yard line and then defended a Rodgers pass to Cobb in the end zone to turn the ball over on downs. "Defensively, we hung in there," said Bucs coach Lovie Smith. "It's hard to win games when you put up that kind of offensive production, which is very little." Tampa Bay got one first down to get the ball out of the shadow of the goal line, but it had to punt again. The Packers went on another lengthy drive that petered out deep in Bucs territory. Crosby capped the 12-play drive with a 25- yard field goal to extend the Packers' lead to 10. Inside four minutes to go, Nelson made a difficult catch over the back of Johnthan Banks at the Tampa Bay 1-yard line. After two incomplete passes on the goal line, Rodgers hooked up with Nelson again for the short touchdown. The following drive ended when McCown was hit as he threw, and the ball wound up in the hands of Jones. Matt Flynn took the field for Rodgers and knelt three times to run down the rest of the clock.
Game Notes: Tampa Bay has lost eight home games in a row...Lacy eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in his two-year career...McCarthy passed Vince Lombardi to become the second-winningest coach in Packers history with 99 regular season and postseason wins...The Packers have a sack in 35 consecutive games...Nelson and Cobb each set personal single-season bests in catches.
                         GREEN BAY   TAMPA BAY
First downs                     23           6
Rushes-yards                31-121       14-16
Net Passing yards              310          93
Passing (Att-Comp-Int)     40-31-0     26-12-1
Sacked-Yards Lost              1-8        7-54
Punts-Average               2-34.5      8-42.0
Fumbles-Lost                   2-1         1-0
Penalties-Yards               5-40        3-30
Time of Possession           38:38       21:22
GREEN BAY -   7   3   0  10  - 20
TAMPA BAY -   0   3   0   0  -  3
1st - GB - Eddie Lacy, 44-yard run (Mason Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
2nd - GB - Crosby, 42-yard field goal GREEN BAY 10-0
2nd - TB - Patrick Murray, 43-yard field goal GREEN BAY 10-3
4th - GB - Crosby, 25-yard field goal GREEN BAY 13-3
4th - GB - Jordy Nelson, 1-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 20-3
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING
GREEN BAY - Eddie Lacy 17-99 1 TD, John Kuhn 4-22, James Starks 7-3, Matt Flynn 3-(-3)
TAMPA BAY - Doug Martin 10-17, Charles Sims 4-(-1)
PASSING
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 40-31-318 1 TD
TAMPA BAY - Josh McCown 26-12-147 1 INT
RECEIVING
GREEN BAY - Randall Cobb 11-131, Jordy Nelson 9-113 1 TD, James Starks 4-22, Andrew Quarless 3-17, Davante Adams 2-17, Richard Rodgers 2-13, Eddie Lacy 1-5
TAMPA BAY - Mike Evans 4-49, Vincent Jackson 3-60, Charles Sims 3-30, Luke Stocker 2-8
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
Sunday December 21st
Detroit 20, CHICAGO 14 - Joique Bell's touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Detroit Lions a 20-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Detroit's win coupled with Green Bay's triumph in Tampa Bay, means the winner of the NFC North will be decided next week as the Lions will travel to Lambeau Field in a winner-take-all Week 17 matchup. The Lions came into the game having been assured of a playoff spot due to Philadelphia's loss to Washington on Saturday. It is the first time since the 2011 season that the team has made it to the postseason. Green Bay also locked up a playoff spot Sunday. Matthew Stafford had a rough game as he went just 22-for-39 for 243 yards with a pair of red zone interceptions, while Reggie Bush also had a rushing touchdown for the Lions (11-4), who have won four straight to reach 11 wins for the first time since going 12-4 in 1991. Jimmy Clausen played admirably in the start, as he was under center in favor of a benched Jay Cutler. Clausen finished the game 23-for-39 for 181 yards and a pair of touchdown passes along with an interception for the Bears (5-10), who have lost their past four games.
MIAMI 37, Minnesota 35 - Terrence Fede blocked Jeff Locke's punt out of the end zone for a safety with 41 seconds left, sending the Miami Dolphins to a 37-35 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The blocked punt came after Damien Williams' 3-yard TD catch tied the game for the Dolphins. The fourth quarter featured a combined 41 points. Despite the win, Miami (8-7) was eliminated from playoff contention due to the Steelers' win over Kansas City. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in the locker room after the game that head coach Joe Philbin will be back next season. Ryan Tannehill completed 35-of-47 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns and an interception for the Dolphins, who snapped a two-game skid. Lamar Miller carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a score and caught five passes for 58 yards. Mike Wallace hauled in five passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Teddy Bridgewater connected on 19-of-26 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Vikings (6-9), who have lost two in a row. Matt Asiata carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Jennings caught three passes for 56 yards and a score.
NFC NORTH DIVISION STANDINGS
X-GREEN BAY 11   4   0   .733   456  328
X-Detroit   11   4   0   .733   301  252
Minnesota    6   9   0   .400   312  334
Chicago      5  10   0   .333   310  429
X - Clinched playoff berth