Mistakes again bury Packers

Bucs pick off three passes from Favre; "Cadillac" rambles

Another winnable game, another loss for the mistake-prone, young Green Bay Packers. However, it was a handful of Packers veterans that made some costly mistakes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Those mistakes allowed the Buccaneers, behind rookie running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, to edge the Packers 17-16, sending the Packers to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1988 when Green Bay began the season 0-5. The Packers lost their fourth straight game at Lambeau Field. Green Bay's last win at home was on Dec. 12, 2004, a come-from-behind 16-13 win over the Detroit Lions.

Next up for the Packers are the Carolina Panthers, who fell to 1-2 after losing to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Despite the 0-3 start, Packers coach Mike Sherman believes his team can salvage a season that is quickly slipping away.

"We have a chance to pull out of this," Sherman told the media after the game. "It is not unfamiliar territory necessarily. We were 1-4 after five games last year and we are 0-3 after three games this year. We still have a chance to do some things. I know people are disappointed. I am sure are fans are with where we are. We put ourselves here and we are the only ones who can pull ourselves out. The only way I know is you roll up your sleeves, get back to work and get right what needs to get right.

"We're doing too many things to not win football games right now. We're not doing enough things to win. I thought today, though, the effort and tenacity in which they played was a very positive thing. Maybe that's something that only a coach can recognize. I just saw the team coming together. We have an older group and a younger group. It takes them a while to mesh. Maybe we haven't done that just yet."

The Buccaneers won a game in Wisconsin for the first time since the season opener on Sept. 10, 1989 (23-21 over the Packers at Lambeau Field) and are off to their best start since 2000.

Since 1990, only three of 75 teams who lost their first three games made the National Football League playoffs. At their current pace with turnovers, the Packers, who have nine in the first three games, will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and any chance of defending their NFC North Division title very quickly.

"We've got to figure this thing out," Sherman said. "We will. I'm confident we will."

Brett Favre was intercepted three times by the Tampa Bay defense, including late in the fourth quarter. On third and 8, Favre threw deep to Robert Ferguson, but the pass was deflected by cornerback Juran Bolden, bobbled by Ferguson and intercepted by Will Allen, who picked off Favre earlier in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay salted the game away behind Williams, who rushed 37 times for 158 yards. Williams had seven of his carries on Tampa Bay's game-sealing drive, including a 24-yard run to the Packers' 17 just before the two-minute warning and after Green Bay used its final timeout. All the Bucs had to do from that point on was take a knee for the win.

Williams broke Alan Ameche's NFL record for most yards in his first three NFL games with 434. Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick this year, Williams became the first NFL rookie with three straight 100-yard rushing games to start a career.

Despite Williams ability to penetrate Green Bay's defense, the Packers were able to move the ball on a Bucs defense that didn't allow a touchdown in its first two games this season. But the Packers hurt themselves with turnovers or missed opportunities to put points on the board. Veteran fullback William Henderson, in his first carry since Dec. 29, 2002, fumbled the ball away on Green Bay's first drive of the game. Favre was picked off three times to raise his season total to seven, and the normally automatic Ryan Longwell was wide left on an extra point attempt in the first quarter, and a 42-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. Longwell's first miss in 157 PAT's dating back to Dec. 23, 2001 proved to be the difference in the game.

"The bottom line is we had plenty of opportunities to win," said Favre, who was a sophomore at Southern Mississippi in 1988. "They have a very fine defense, but you can't make mistakes. It starts with me. That's what is so disappointing. I felt like for the most part I made good decisions, good throws, and that's what I needed to do, and get points on the board. Our defense played well enough to win, got us a turnover, really got us two. … Collectively as a team, we did enough to win, but we made too many mistakes, and that was the determining factor."

Embattled cornerback Ahmad Carroll got his second career interception and first Packers' take-away of the season in the fourth quarter. The Packers were going in for the go-ahead touchdown when linebacker Shelton Quarles got his hand on a third-down pass to wide receiver Robert Ferguson near the goal line.

Green Bay had to settle for Longwell's 32-yard field goal with 7:18 remaining that made it 17-16.

The Packers' defense forced a punt and Green Bay got the ball back at midfield with 5:52 remaining - but three plays later, Allen picked off his second pass of the day.

Wide receiver Joey Galloway caught touchdown passes of 5 and 10 yards from Brian Griese in the first half for the Buccaneers. Yet, despite seven penalties, two turnovers and a missed extra point, the Packers trailed just 17-13 at halftime. The Bucs scored 10 points off two Green Bay turnovers in the first half.

Henderson fumbled the ball away on Green Bay's first series of the game, and Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber recovered at the Bucs' 46.

The Bucs moved 54 yards on 12 plays and scored on Brian Griese's five-yard pass to Galloway for a 7-0 lead.

Green Bay bounced back and closed to 7-6 on Favre's 37-yard touchdown pass to Ferguson. Favre opened the drive with a 37-yard strike to wide receiver Donald Driver, who was held by cornerback Brian Kelly, but managed to catch the ball while falling to the ground at the Bucs' 43. Facing fourth-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 37, Ferguson raced past cornerback Juran Bolden to catch a perfect pass from Favre for his second touchdown in as many games. It was the first touchdown scored against Tampa Bay this season.

Both teams swapped punts before Tampa Bay stretched its lead to 14-6 on Griese's 10-yard pass to Galloway, who broke past middle linebacker Nick Barnett, for a touchdown.

Favre, who was 8 of 10 for 132 yards in the first half, tossed his fifth interception of the season three plays into the next series, and the Bucs capitalized on Matt Bryant's 42-yard field goal to make it 17-6. Favre was attempting to hit Driver, but was off the mark and cornerback Brian Kelly got his third interception of the season.

The Packers caught a huge break early in the ensuing drive when Kelly was penalized for pass interference on Driver. The 41-yard penalty coupled with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing the call gave Green Bay the ball on the Bucs' 9. Offensive tackle Kevin Barry was penalized for holding, pushing the Packers to the 20, but Favre found wide receiver Antonio Chatman, who split a seam in the Bucs' defense, to catch the pass in the end zone for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the second quarter.

Tampa Bay dodged a bullet because of a missed call by the officials late in the third quarter. Griese clearly fumbled as he was attempting to pass and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila recovered the loose ball on the Bucs' 10, then was helped to his feet by teammates and ran it into the end zone. But referee Ron Winter ruled the play an incomplete pass and Tampa Bay maintained possession.

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