Dec 21, 2014 4:23 PM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - With the NFC North title still up for grabs, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers couldn't afford a slip-up against the struggling Tampa Buccaneers.
Rodgers threw for 318 yards and one touchdown and Eddie Lacy scored on a 44-yard run to pace a 20-3 victory that clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth Sunday.
Lacy finished with 99 yards rushing on 17 attempts. Jordy Nelson caught a 1-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter and had nine receptions for 113 yards, while Rodgers completed 11 throws to Randall Cobb for 131 yards.
A 21-13 loss to Buffalo a week ago cost Green Bay (11-4) sole possession of first place in the division. It also hurt its chances for earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Green Bay closes the regular season at home against Detroit (11-4), with a victory giving the Packers another NFC North crown.
Rodgers rebounded from the only game this season in which he's failed to throw for a touchdown, completing 31 of 40 passes without an interception. He threw 24 yards to Nelson on third-and-13 to extend the drive that produced Lacy's long TD run, and a 19-yard completion to Nelson set up Rodgers' 36th TD pass of the year.
The Bucs (2-13) have lost five straight and remain in contention for the first overall pick in the 2015 draft. Their sputtering offense was outgained 154-6 in the opening quarter; Josh McCown was sacked seven times and intercepted once; and Doug Martin was held to 17 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
Tampa Bay kept it close with a solid defensive performance, forcing Rodgers' fourth turnover in two weeks with Michael Johnson's sack-fumble in the opening half. A goal-line stand denied the Packers points in the third quarter after Lacy gained 5 yards on first down to the Bucs 1. Lacy and John Kuhn were stopped for no gain on the next two plays, and Rodgers threw an incompletion in the end zone on fourth down.
Nevertheless, the Packers wound up with 431 yards total offense.
McCown, meanwhile, was 12 of 26 for 147 yards. Mike Evans had four receptions for 49 yards and Vincent Jackson had three for 60 yards, moving both of them to the brink of 1,000-yard seasons.