Game-Changing Play of the Week: Packers Collapse After Rodgers Pick 6

The Packers were never the same after Aaron Rodgers' first interception of the day.

Yikes.

Not much else that can be said about that performance from the Packers on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After dominating the first quarter and appearing to be en route to another convincing victory, everything unraveled almost immediately after an Aaron Rodgers interception was taken to the house by the Buccaneers' Jamel Dean, just the third pick-six of Rodgers' illustrious career.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this interception is the Game-Changing Play of the Week for Week 6.

The play

This is a risky play by Rodgers. I'm not going to go so far as to say it's a ball that never should have been thrown, because it was delivered on target and with velocity. However, Rodgers clearly underestimated the ability of Dean to break on the ball here.

Not a whole lot to analyze. Rodgers dials in on freshly returned Davante Adams, trying to hit him on a deep out route, and when Dean steps in to make the play he's got nobody in front of him capable of stopping him on his way to the end zone. 

What's fascinating about this play is the ripple effect it caused on the rest of the game.

My immediate response in the moment was "yikes, okay, not a great decision but it's 10-7 and the Packers have been controlling the game so far." There was no reason to panic. And yet it seems like from that moment forward, the offense lost its mojo. 

Just a couple plays later, Rodgers throws another interception, this one off Adams's hands. It was an accurately delivered football, but in a very tight area of the field. It set the Buccaneers up for an easy, go-ahead touchdown to make the score 14-10.

That's when the panic really set in for the offense. In the entire second quarter, the Packers ran 17 offensive plays for just five yards, after completely dominating the statistics and time of possession in the first quarter.

It's as though the Packers, in facing adversity on offense for the very first time all season, suddenly decided to crawl into a hole rather than fight back. There's really no other way of explaining it; Rodgers began pressing, especially when the pass rush started getting home, and LaFleur's playcalling rhythm fell apart. The team was never able to get back into a good flow, due to a combination of the Buccaneers' impressive defense, an inexplicably horrible defensive game plan by Mike Pettine and the offense itself repeatedly shooting itself in the foot.

This made the loss particularly frustrating, because unlike the complete catastrophes in San Diego and San Francisco of 2019, this wasn't a game that the Packers were just never in. They didn't come out flat--they came out and responded well to the challenges of the Buccaneers' defense and showed their offensive prowess, quickly going up 10-0. 

After both interceptions, the team should have been able to catch its breath, regroup and get back to its game plan, one that appeared to be working until the pick 6.

 

It is a bit concerning that the first time we see this team face any sort of real adversity on offense this season, they just completely collapse rather than adjust and show some mettle. That being said, I don't see any reason to be particularly concerned about the offense moving forward in the long term. If they come out and look sluggish against a bad Texans team next week on offense, then maybe you start to get a little worried, but it's certainly not time yet to hit the panic button. Stinkers happen, and this was an excellent defense. That's not defending the output of this offense from Sunday, but simply me attempting to take a more level-headed approach here.

The defense on the other hand... that's a different story. At this point, it's hard to pinpoint anything the Packers' defense does well. Meanwhile, Mike Pettine's game plan against a 43-year-old statue quarterback who's been awful under pressure in 2020 was to... frequently rush three? It was phenomenally stupid, and cost the Packers any real chance at keeping the score within a reasonable margin in case the offense were to have figured it out again.

Ultimately, I still feel this is a team that can beat anyone in the league. But the next time this team faces adversity, it's going to need to demonstrate a much different character than it did on Sunday, otherwise every loss this team notches, however rare, will continue to be a blowout.

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (35)

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Guam's picture

October 19, 2020 at 04:27 pm

I am more concerned about the lack of intensity and attitude from this team than I am from any particular play. Tampa Bay hit them in the mouth and they folded. Strikingly similar result to the SF (two) and LAC games of last year. This team just does not handle physicality well at all and that is about leadership and attitude. Not sure if this stems from the coaching staff or the players or both, but I don't think the Packers will be SB champs without turning this around.

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canadapacker's picture

October 19, 2020 at 04:53 pm

Its one game. The game had just too much Brady - Rodgers hype. If we look at the coming off of a bye week stats - it somewhat could have been predicted. It shouldnt have as the guys had to hang around GB according to covid rules so there was no flying home. But next week will should tell the tale - these guys are not a 1-5 team. And they have JJ Watt and a QB who can run. And it is there. We will need to be on our game.

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jh9's picture

October 20, 2020 at 08:52 am

Guam, I agree.

We know Aaron Rodgers is a cerebral man and QB. The way MLF designs and calls plays, he’s cerebral too. And that’s fine.

However, NFL football is smash-mouth. If the Packers are going to have a cerebral QB1 and HC, every other coach - both on offense and defense - has to instill that smash-mouth mentality. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see what happened at Tampa Bay when we play genuine contenders.

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PackfanNY's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:08 am

No doubt fast, physical teams give them trouble. 49ers and Chargers last year and Bucs so far this year. Hopefully, LaFleur and the coaches can change up the game plan.

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albert999's picture

October 19, 2020 at 06:07 pm

Couldn’t agree more GUAM
Lazy and lethargic and overpaid

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Lphill's picture

October 19, 2020 at 06:59 pm

Yes Rodgers made a poor throw on the pick 6 but the Packers defense did nothing to rally back , the Smiths were invisible and Josh Jackson can't cover me, why does Pettine play back so far? Time to bring in Dan Quinn for the defense .

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Coldworld's picture

October 20, 2020 at 08:47 am

Rodgers gave them 14 points (well one down inside the 5). The D allowed 24 points the entire game, 7 of which were a gift from one back up, Jackson, who may now be the 4th perimeter option. 3 cane from a 50 plus yard field goal after a stop.

After the second interception the O basically could never stay on the field and scored precisely nothing. Their D effectively out scored our O. The D looked ugly but it’s a complete fallacy that they cost us this game.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:22 am

To be fair.
Rodgers gave them 7 points. His 2nd throw hit Adams in the hands. Can't blame Rodgers on that.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 20, 2020 at 07:11 pm

Yes and no. When you try to force things into a tight place bad things can happen. Rodgers usually doesn’t do that and that’s why.

I think Coldworld’s point is that we handed them 14 points. 7 more from a bad mistake by a backup and another 3 on a really long field goal. That’s 24 of the 38 point. This narrative that our defense cost us this game is pretty shaky.

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Rudedawg67's picture

October 19, 2020 at 07:15 pm

First of all this teams needs to draft better on both sides of the ball. They blew it in 2017 trading out of the first round and took Kevin King when JJ Watt was sitting there. Pittsburg took at number 30 right after they traded the 29th pick away. Instead of trading up in this years draft for a receiver like Justin Jefferson they traded up to get a quarterback. Chase Claypool was still waiting in there in the 2nd round and the dang Steelers took him too. We need their talent scout.

Since 2010 here is what we have gotten out of the first and second rounds:
1st Round 2nd Round
2010 - Bryan Bulaga - Homerun / Mike Neal - Miss
2011 Derek Sherrod - Struck out looking/ Randall Cobb - Hit
2012 Nick Perry - Miss / Jerell Worthy - Miss
2013 Dontae Jones - Struck out looking / Eddie Lacy - Foul Ball
2014 Ha Ha Clinton Dix - Miss / Davante Adams -Homerun
2015 Damarious Randall -Miss / Quinten Rollins - Miss
2016 Kenny Clark - Tripple / Jason Springs - Are you kidding me
2017 No first rounder / Kevin King- Double / Josh Jones -Miss
2018 Jaire Alexander - Tripple / Josh Jackson ---- leaning towards a miss
2019 Rashard Gary -Jury still out / Elgin Jenkins - Homerun
2019 Darnell Savage -Jury still out/
2020 Jordan Love -why???? / AJ Dillon - potential

People can break it down however you want but I see about 23 first and second round picks since 2010 and this team has been successful on about eight players. And have failed miserably on the defensive side of the draft. That is not the way to build a team.. Luckily they have had success with later rounds in some drafts.
I hope the new regime can improve that fact but their first two drafts haven't build any confidence.

I think the bottom line is during the regular season you can win a lot of games against teams that are as talented as you because your coaching maybe better. In the playoffs you come up against teams that have as much talent on the sidelines and put more talent on the field and that is why you can make it to the NFC Championship every other year and lose.

It is just one loss and the sky isn't falling but Green Bay needs to find a way to answer back when it gets punched in the mouth in the 2nd quarter of a game against a good team. The problem is I don't think the defense right now can stop the bleeding. Maybe when Martin gets back in the middle he will be a difference maker. Lots of football left to play so lets learn from this.

Go Pack. 15-1

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Bure9620's picture

October 20, 2020 at 04:19 am

I understand you sentiment but 2 things, I think drafting late is always difficult because you simply have fewer home run options, there not many all pro type sure fire picks late in the 1st........most drafts have no more than 15 or so players with a first round grade........How many times did Packers even draft in the top 20 these years??? Once? Gute traded back then up for Jaire, whom is now essentially a shut down corner probably the best corner in the draft......In addition, EVERY team misses in the draft.....take a look at Belichicks drafts, he misses a lot.....also drafting late.....ALL GMs miss, the key is to hit on more than you miss which is easier when drafting higher....The niners built a roster by sucking for several years and drafting high, getting Bosa, Buckner and company and hitting later on Kittle

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Rudedawg67's picture

October 20, 2020 at 02:51 pm

I understand you are going to miss on your picks some of the time. The difference between New England and Green Bay is that over the years they’ve invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball in draft picks and have failed with the exception of Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander and in the meantime you neglected the other side of the ball. And if we have to compare Brady and Rogers we know Rogers is the better quarterback but Brady has had a more talented defense around him and that is why he plays in the Super Bowl just about every year. Belichick must be doing something right in the draft and New England themselves draft pretty low.

I get it though, you can’t hit a homerun every time but I think green bass draft choices in the first and second round over the years has been less than stellar. If you take Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander out of the equation there’s really nothing to show on the defensive side of the ball for all the early round draft picks we have spent.

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Razer's picture

October 20, 2020 at 07:56 am

Well said RudeDawg67. You're outline of spotty drafting in the upper rounds is at the heart of why this team really doesn't have a good base to build on. The scouting and player personnel departments have under performed for a decade and this team just can't get to the next level without that talent foundation.

And while we may not be drafting at the top of each round, there is no excuse for at least not getting talented big men for the trenches. We simply do not scout well when it comes to D-line or O-line. This may be a Ted Thompson hangover where he waited until the late rounds and sifted through what is left for the lines.

Doesn't matter what our stats are at season's end. The first team that we run into with a solid D-line will neutralize the stat machine. Seems this is good enough in Green Bay.

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PeteK's picture

October 20, 2020 at 08:17 am

Absolutely Bure. Lacy foul ball, he had two excellent seasons, that's worth at least a single with a stolen base for a RB.--LOL-- You have to look at the whole draft because we have been productive in late rounds. I'll take," making it to the championship every other year", instead of being a none factor and winning 5 games for 5 seasons. Easy, it's one loss and now we're ripping up everything for the last decade.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:54 pm

I think you should apply the same analysis to some other NFC teams and see how we compare. Nobody bats 1.000.

I also think if you draft a guy and he gives you a couple of good seasons, like Lacy, it’s a good pick.

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jms's picture

October 19, 2020 at 07:43 pm

There are 3 areas that seem to be problems year after year:
Speed
Quickness
Intensity
The game has most certainly changed in the last half dozen years.
We have implemented a new offense which has developed nicely and looks like it is moving forward.
Regardless, our talent level is nowhere near the upper echelon teams. Defensively, we are slow off the ball, drag in pursuit and tackle poorly.
These issues have been a problem for years.
The culture, in my opinion, is a successful season is winning the division.
When will this organization adopt the attitude of winning now and
place much less emphasis on the “Titletown Experience”?

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Difer's picture

October 19, 2020 at 11:55 pm

But isn’t CEO Murphy ultimately responsible for not only the Packers, but Titletown District as well? If so, I can see the logic of fielding a salary cap friendly team that is just good enough to compete for a wild-card spot. That keeps the stadium filled and the revenue stream healthy for the business organization as a whole. That keeps the Executive Committee and BOD happy. And that keeps Murphy handsomely employed.

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astinzz's picture

October 20, 2020 at 03:29 am

This will also be an opportunity for the Packers to play in front of some fans, as Raymond James Stadium is allowing a limited number of fans to attend Sunday’s game in person.

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porupack's picture

October 19, 2020 at 07:44 pm

Very bad stinker of a game on about everyone. But, glad it was now instead of...you know, like that 15-1 season when players just start getting over confident and maybe complacent. Adversity can be a very good teacher early in the season, and they got a ferocity of it for all of 3 quarters. Embarrassed them packers right proper. I'd suppose they will take it out on the opponent. And they better put up about 42 points and keep Rodgers clean.

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Packers0808's picture

October 19, 2020 at 08:06 pm

Packers believed the headlines about themselves way too much! They will be lucky to win 1 of there next 3 games if they play anywhere near like they did against the Bucs!

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baldski's picture

October 19, 2020 at 08:25 pm

The losses to SF in 2019 and yesterday brings to mind a quote from Mike Tyson, " Everybody has a plan until I hit 'em in the face". They just completely fall apart when they get a dose of smash mouth football. This worries me.

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Razer's picture

October 20, 2020 at 08:08 am

Love that quote and it is SO true - particularly with this team. This year's Packers were giddy with their stats and people glossed over the gaps in defense. Putting up big numbers on lesser teams with jet sweeps and hard-counts go out the window fairly fast when the opponent makes you play hardnose football.

Do we have it in us?

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PeteK's picture

October 20, 2020 at 12:45 pm

I guess the two wins against Bears and Vikes plus a playoff win versus Hawks, who by the way all play tough defense ,don't count.

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ImaPayne's picture

October 19, 2020 at 09:08 pm

1. In there three wins those teams were 5-24 and we didn't blow any of them away. First clue.
2. In all our games pettine is playing off receivers letting them catch the ball in open areas. Clue our guys are to slow for man. It showed against the bucks but we didn't answer the hell in this game like the others.
3. The team lacks playmakers on d. The Smiths either are out of shape, old or were using them wrong.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

October 20, 2020 at 08:35 am

1. their - not "there"
2. Pettine - not "pettine"
too - not "to"
Bucs - not "bucks" (the "Bucks" play basketball)
bell - not "hell"
3. we're - not were

Verdict - illiteracy renders comment irrelevant.

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ImaPayne's picture

October 19, 2020 at 09:08 pm

1. In there three wins those teams were 5-24 and we didn't blow any of them away. First clue.
2. In all our games pettine is playing off receivers letting them catch the ball in open areas. Clue our guys are to slow for man. It showed against the bucks but we didn't answer the hell in this game like the others.
3. The team lacks playmakers on d. The Smiths either are out of shape, old or were using them wrong.

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UGDR's picture

October 19, 2020 at 09:57 pm

Game turned on the drive prior to the pick six when Winfield completely lambasted Rodgers at the goal line. #12 got pummeled and was a little shaken and off from that point forward. They moved ball methodically on first two drives before he got wrecked. This reminded me of 2010 NFC championship game when they marched right down the field on opening drive and Rodgers bootlegs for a TD but gets smashed diving for the pilon. After that he was off his game and offense stalled the remainder of the contest. Thank goodness Caleb Heine didn't see big BJ Raji in the flat. Hit 12 hard and hit him early and the offense screeches to a hault. Rodgers and the Pack will bounce back vs a putrid Houston defense but I'm not feeling confident vs winning teams with top 10 defense and a decent enough offense.

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jurp's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:16 am

I agree. I thought at the time that the Buc should've been called for Spearing because he led with his helmet. The facemask hit Rodgers in his unprotected back - I think it hit the backbone. That HAD to have hurt throughout the rest of the day.

I would not have been surprised to have seen Boyle come into the game, but after the first pick that couldn't have happened unless Rodgers left the game on the cart - he would've widely been seen as having been pulled for performance and not injury.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 20, 2020 at 06:59 pm

A shot to his kidneys. Should have been a flag.

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Difer's picture

October 19, 2020 at 11:33 pm

If one play can collapse a team’s spirit and ability to compete, then the Packers are not a play-off caliber team. I think that the rout suffered against the Buccaneers this year occurred for the same reasons as the face plants against the Chargers and 49rs (twice) last year - the Packers can’t move the ball against a fast, hard-hitting defense. Period. Plus La Fleur was out-coached and failed to make necessary adjustments during the game.

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Coldworld's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:00 am

One play can throw off a QB, but it wasn’t one play, it was two and then reeling after the punches happen. The real problem was that we could not adjust and, in my view, had game planned poorly and Made poor choices on top of that.

Where I agree with you is that that is very redolent of the two 49ers games. LaFleur has to get better at motivation over a bye and at planning for when teams attack Rodgers effectively.

The motivation aspect admitted by LaFleur and Rodgers is really concerning. I personally think it may be time to set an example. Bench EQ, Jackson and Lowry. The first 2 clearly didn’t have their heads in the game and the third is a consistent underperformed. Lackadaisical attitudes and lack of focus and effort are inexcusable in the NFL and LaFleur needs to remind them of that in a way that can’t be ignored. Let players with desire get out there.

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Razer's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:07 am

Have seen several posts and Tweets about this play being off-side. It wasn't. Tampa Bay DE just jumped into action with the play clock clicking to zero. Rodgers might as well countdown 3-2-1-GO.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 20, 2020 at 09:30 am

The screen shot I saw was pretty clear he was offsides. The ball wasn't snapped yet and the the DE was almost a yard in the backfield.

Outside of the fact that it would have given them a 1st down, and wouldn't have been a turnover on that play, no harm right.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 20, 2020 at 10:18 am

Of the 18 plays we ran in the second quarter, most of them were incomplete passes. At one point we had thrown 20 passes to 8 runs.

I would have preferred more runs. Our QB wasn’t getting protection and we were turning it over. Better to run it into the line three times and punt if you have to. We might still have lost but I’d keep my QB from taking a beating and try to regroup at the half.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 20, 2020 at 07:01 pm

Needed the power game, no doubt.

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