Brett Favre still is hankering for the "perfect game" he feels he must play in order to ensure the winning results that have eluded the Packers thus far. Two big touchdown passes in the first half, highlighted by a 37-yard strike to a streaking Robert Ferguson on a fourth-down call, seemingly had Favre poised to complete a comeback from a 17-6 deficit. However, Tampa Bay's menacing Cover 2 defense goaded him with the game on the line in the fourth quarter into throwing two of his three interceptions. Favre has an unprecedented seven interceptions in the first three games. He didn't reach the 200-yard passing mark for the sixth time in the last seven meetings with former division rival Tampa Bay, which has totaled 15 interceptions and allowed only six TDs by Favre in that span dating to 2000. The first-time absence of Pro Bowl tight end Bubba Franks (knee injury) further decimated what few options Favre has at his disposal.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus
Head coach Mike Sherman uttered Monday what's fast become a weekly refrain: "We still have a ways to go," in regard to an incredibly deficient run game. Granted, the Packers had a stiff challenge in this game going against the league's top-rated rush defense, which yielded an average of only 40 yards in the first two games. The Packers mustered 75 yards on the ground but did so in 25 carries, for a lowly average of 3 yards. Pro Bowl halfback Ahman Green was slightly better with an average of 3.1 yards with his 19 attempts. Thirteen of his 58 yards, though, came on one run, his season best. Sherman credited the Bucs' linebackers for swarming to the football, going so far as to say they were the difference in the game. Green hasn't rushed for 100 yards in his last 10 games, dating to mid-November last year.
PASS DEFENSE: B
Unlike the previous week in the 26-24 loss to Cleveland, the Packers weren't done in by 80- and 62-yard touchdown passes.
Brian Griese, under duress at times by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman (one sack), threw for only 139 yards. His longest completion was an 18-yarder to Mark Clayton. Cornerback Ahmad Carroll made a successful return to a full-time role as the starter opposite Al Harris, in the wake of a one-game demotion because of persistent penalty problems. Carroll didn't draw attention from the officials for the second straight game, and produced the defense's first take-away of 2005 with a stellar, lunging interception in the fourth quarter and heads-up return of 38 yards, setting up a field goal that pulled the Packers within a point. However, rookie cornerback Mike Hawkins, replacing an injured Joey Thomas (head) as the nickel back, came off coverage of Joey Galloway in the end zone on a rollout by Griese and surrendered a 5-yard touchdown pass. Galloway later beat middle linebacker Nick Barnett with a nifty stop-and-go move over the middle for a 10-yard TD catch.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus
Bucs rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams came alive in the fourth quarter to spoil what otherwise was a stout job by the Packers' seventh-rated rush defense against the league's No. 1 rusher.
Williams ground out 79 yards, half of his total for the game, in 14 carries during those final 15 minutes. Twelve of Williams' first 26 carries were for no more than a yard, including three for losses, before he ripped off one for 26 yards early in the fourth, and then sealed the victory with a 24-yard burst with two minutes to go. Williams finished with an average of 4.3 yards on 37 carries. Backup tackles Corey Williams and Kenny Peterson were given solid grades by the coaching staff for disrupting running lanes, while Barnett was strong in support with a game-high 15 tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
For the second time in three games, glaring breakdowns with what was an automatic assembly line on kicks reared their ugly head -- and in more costly fashion. Veteran long snapper Rob Davis was high with his snap to first-year holder B.J. Sander, prompting Ryan Longwell to hook his point-after attempt wide left in the first quarter. The fourth missed PAT of Longwell's record-setting, nine-year career in Green Bay proved to be the deciding point on the scoreboard. Longwell also pushed a 42-yard field-goal attempt wide left in the third quarter on a Lambeau Field turf saturated by heavy rain within an hour of kickoff. Rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy was a bright spot in his first crack at returning kickoffs. Working alongside running back Najeh Davenport, Murphy returned two kicks for an average of 27 yards.
Sherman is officially on the proverbial hot seat for the first time in his six years at the helm. On the heels of having his contract extended two years through 2007, Sherman is in the throes of the Packers' first 0-3 start since 1988. Rumors already have started that Sherman won't see the new contract through and will be out after the season, with Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress getting mention as a replacement.
Fans' patience is running thin after putting up with slow starts the previous two years, including 1-4 in 2004, and they can't fathom how the Packers have morphed from the rude host that pushed visiting teams around to being pushovers at Lambeau Field, where they've lost seven of their last 11 games. Jim Bates' no-name, yet resolute defense shut out Tampa Bay in the second half and put a winnable game in the offense's hands, to no avail however, as Sherman the play-caller keeps allowing Favre to make high-risk throws into double and even triple coverage.