NFL: Rodgers edges Brady as Packers hold off Bucs

The NFL logo is seen on a football packaging in Los Angeles on August 24, 2020. File photo. Chris Delmas, AFP.
The NFL logo is seen on a football packaging in Los Angeles on August 24, 2020. File photo. Chris Delmas, AFP.

LOS ANGELES — Aaron Rodgers scored only his second career victory over Tom Brady as the Green Bay Packers squeezed past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-12 on Sunday.

The fifth — and possibly final — meeting of the two NFL superstar quarterbacks failed to deliver a high-scoring shoot-out at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and instead unfolded as a gritty defensive battle.

Brady had looked poised to engineer one of his trademark late rallies after leading the Bucs on a 13-play 89-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown for Russell Gage with just seconds remaining.

That score left the Bucs within a two-point conversion of forcing overtime. 

But a costly delay-of-game penalty took Tampa Bay further away from the goalline and Brady’s floated pass to Gage was batted away as Green Bay effectively iced the game.

Rodgers threw for 255 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while Brady finished with 271 yards and one touchdown.

“It’s been a lot of fun competing against Tom over the years, and it’s always fun to come out on top because it hasn’t happened many times,” Rodgers said afterwards.

Brady meanwhile bemoaned Tampa Bay’s misfiring offense.

“Defense played great, but we gotta play better on offense,” he said. 

“We haven’t scored many points all season. We gotta get a lot better.”

There was a similarly nervy finale in Miami, as the Miami Dolphins’ defense shut down Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills to grind out a 21-19 victory in a hard-fought NFL divisional battle.

Bills quarterback Allen finished with 400 passing yards and two touchdowns but was found wanting on Buffalo’s final two drives as they chased a game-winning touchdown.

Miami had taken a 21-17 lead after Chase Edmonds crashed over from close range near the end of the fourth quarter.

Allen took Buffalo upfield on the next possession, but missed a wide open Isaiah McKenzie in the end zone on fourth down as a gilt-edged chance went begging.

– ‘Butt punt’ goes viral –

Buffalo’s defense forced Miami to concede a safety after a bizarre play where punter Thomas Morstead kicked the ball directly into the backside of team-mate Trent Sherfield.

The incident — hastily dubbed the “Butt Punt” on social media — left Buffalo needing only a field goal to snatch victory.

However their attempts to get the ball into field goal range fell short when McKenzie gathered an Allen pass but was unable to reach out of bounds to stop the clock. 

The Bills failed to spike the ball to halt play and time expired.

“Last week you saw what our offense could do, but this week you can see our defense is capable of stepping up and being able to finish a tough game like that,” Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.

“We’re starting to find our identity as a team,” added Tagovailoa, who had been forced to leave the field with an apparent head injury before returning in the second half.

US media reports said the NFL Players Association will investigate how Tagovailoa was allowed to come back on the field despite appearing to have suffered a concussion.

Dophins receiver Tyreek Hill meanwhile was simply relieved the team survived Morstead’s “Butt Punt”.

“I’ve never seen a butt punt,” Hill said. “Next time (Sherfield’s) gonna catch it with his butt cheeks.”

In other games on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an end in a 20-17 defeat on the road to the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Matt Ryan threw two touchdowns and 222 yards — including a clutch game-winning pass to Jelani Woods with 24 seconds remaining — to seal victory for the Colts.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes finished with 262 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Elsewhere, Lamar Jackson threw four touchdowns and 218 passing yards in the Baltimore Ravens’ 37-26 win over the New England Patriots while the Philadelphia Eagles improved to 3-0 with a 24-8 defeat of the Washington Commanders.

The reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams meanwhile relied on rushing touchdowns from Cam Akers and Cooper Kupp to propel them to a 20-12 divisional victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale.

In Los Angeles, however, the Chargers were given a brutal mauling by Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars, slumping to a 38-10 home defeat at SoFi Stadium.

Lawrence finished with three touchdowns and 262 yards from 28/39 passing in a comprehensive win. 

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