|Date of game: 12/21/2014
Recap: Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay
Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - 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 ... Tampa Bay hosts New Orleans to finish the regular season.