Bucs rally, hang on to go 3-1

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Green Bay Packers, 30-21, on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Get the wrap-up, plus notes some of the Bucs' top players.

The Bucs are winning in spite of quarterback Brian Griese.

For the second straight week, Griese threw three interceptions and nearly threw the game away.

With the Bucs leading Green Bay 20-7, the Packers took advantage of the picks -- including one that was returned 62 yards for a touchdown -- to take a 21-20 lead late in the fourth quarter.

Fortunately for Griese, the Bucs defense bailed him out.

In three starts since taking over for Jeff Garcia, Griese has thrown four touchdown passes and six interceptions and owns a quarterback rating of 62.5. Garcia threw four interceptions all of last season.

"I can't make those mistakes and I have to eliminate those things for us to continue to win," Griese said. "Thankfully, we were able to win the past two weeks, but I have to fix that."

Despite the poor performances, coach Jon Gruden stands firmly behind Griese, who has won eight of his last nine starts for the Bucs dating back to 2005.

"Green Bay is good," Gruden said. "Anybody who tries to throw the ball against Green Bay is going to struggle. I thought the first interception of the second half, we had a great drive. We took the opening kickoff, moved it right down the field. It was a tight play, ball was tipped and intercepted. Not a lot I can say about that.

"I thought the ball was thrown fairly accurately. The second one, Nick Collins makes an unbelievable play. I don't think Brian Griese in his career has seen a middle safety break like Collins did in that particular situation. I'm not making any excuses."

Well, yes he is, sort of.

After Garcia dropped the season opener at New Orleans, Gruden was critical of his inaccuracy. But Garcia has been demoted from starter to the inactive third quarterback while Luke McCown is No. 2.

Fortunately, the Bucs have been living off turnovers forced by the defense.

On Sunday, the star was linebacker Derrick Brooks. He had one of three interceptions of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and forced a fumble that Jermaine Phillips returned 38 yards for a touchdown.

The result was a 30-21 victory that saw Matt Bryant kick three field goals, including a 24-yarder that put the Bucs ahead for good with 2:26 remaining in the game.

"I know it's still in me," Brooks said. "I've still got a lot of football left in me, contrary to what some believe. I just put it on tape. I don't discuss it. I don't get into a debate. I put my evidence on tape and again, today was a time when I had an opportunity to put something on tape to change some critic's minds and hopefully I did."

The Bucs will need that kind of effort Sunday at Denver, where Griese began his career.

But don't look for Griese to cheat the hangman much longer if he keeps turning the ball over.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Today is his day. It was all about him for me. I talked with him personally, in my head, throughout the game. I just wanted to remind him that he is my baby boy and that he is with me at all times." -- PK Matt Bryant, who buried his three-month-old son one day earlier.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Bucs have scored 48 points off turnovers this season and have scored at least seven points off turnovers in every game this season. Last year, the Bucs scored 114 points off miscues, fourth best in the NFL.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

S Sabby Piscitelli suffered a right elbow injury against the Packers and did not return to the game.

LB Derrick Brooks recorded his 25th career interception, breaking a streak of 157 straight passes by Aaron Rodgers without an INT.

LB Barrett Ruud recorded his second INT of the season and the fourth of his career in the second quarter. It's the second game in a row he has had a pick.

DE Gaines Adams recorded his second career INT and the second in as many weeks. He also intercepted a pass at Chicago.

RB Earnest Graham had a 47-yard run to set up a TD and finished with 111 yards on 20 carries. He has gained at least 100 yards in three of the Bucs' four games.

PK Matt Bryant, whose three-month-old son died on Wednesday, was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts and was perfect on all three PATs. He is 8-for-8 on field goals this season.

WR Dexter Jackson fared much better on kickoff returns this week, averaging 33.3 yards on three returns.


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