Tom Brady & Co. deliver KO performance as Bucs hand Packers first loss

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, running back Ronald Jones rushed for two more and tight end Rob Gronkowski finally saw the end zone in a 38-10 knockout blow to the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Sunday -- the Bucs’ first complete performance of the season and first signature win with Brady as they improved to 4-2 and took first place in the NFC South.

With weapons Chris Godwin and LeSean McCoy back, a rested Mike Evans and rookie Tyler Johnson growing by leaps and bounds, Brady completed 17 of 27 passes, tossing touchdowns to Johnson and Gronkowski. Stepping up in the absence of O.J. Howard, who was lost to a ruptured Achilles tendon two weeks ago, Gronkowski caught five passes on eight targets for a team-leading 78 yards and a touchdown -- a back-shoulder fade in the second quarter.

Not to be outdone, Jones delivered yet another strong effort. He rushed for 113 yards -- his third consecutive rushing performance of over 100 yards after having just one 100-yard performance prior to this season -- and his first multitouchdown game. The defense sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times, with a fifth sack coming against backup Tim Boyle.

Pivotal play: The Bucs went nowhere on offense on their first three possessions and the defense struggled to get to Rodgers, falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter.

But then early in the second quarter when the Packers had the ball on third-and-10 at their own 32-yard line, cornerback Jamel Dean jumped a route on a pass intended for Davante Adams and returned it 32 yards to score, giving the Bucs their first points of the day.

“The pick-six changed the entire ballgame,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said.

“When I saw the formation and I’d seen how everything started to develop, I’m like, ‘I have to make this play, because I know what’s coming,’” Dean said. “Once I saw him throw it, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s mine.’”

Not even two minutes later, on the Packers’ very next possession, Rodgers again tried to find Adams inside in traffic. But this time he was picked by safety Mike Edwards, setting up a 2-yard touchdown from Jones. It set up a 28-point scoring spree -- the most by an NFL team in any quarter since 2018. The Bucs wound up scoring 38 unanswered points while the defense pummeled Rodgers throughout the game.

Eye-popping stats: Even without 347-pound nose tackle Vita Vea, the Bucs pressured Rodgers 12 times Sunday, his most in a game this season, as the Packers struggled to pick up the Bucs’ stunts. He went 2-of-7 for 10 yards (plus four sacks and a scramble) when pressured. Rodgers was also blitzed 17 times, going 5-of-14 with two interceptions and two sacks on those plays -- tied for his most blitzes faced over the past two seasons. Rodgers had been sacked only three times in four games entering Sunday's contest.

Promising trend: After the team committed 11 penalties for 109 yards in a 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 5, Evans called for the Bucs to have more discipline.

“During the week, we’ve got to have some type of discipline within ourselves,” Evans said. “It’s not up to coaches. It’s us the players, so we have to fix that. And we better do it or we’re gonna lose.”

They responded, with zero total penalties Sunday while the Packers had six penalties for 76 yards. It was just the second time in Bucs franchise history they recorded zero penalties (previous time: Week 16 of 1983 at Detroit). Prior to Sunday, the Bucs had been leading the NFL in penalties, averaging 8.4 per game.

"When we play clean games -- and not all games are going to be zero penalties -- but when we keep it down and play hard, you see what the outcome can be," linebacker Devin White said.