Packers stay perfect

Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson celebrates his touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the...

Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson celebrates his touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during their NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin November 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Darren Hauck)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

The Super Bowl champions got quite a scare from Tampa Bay on Sunday, but survived with a 35-26 win to become the NFL’s only 10-0 squad.

Aaron Rodgers continued his remarkable season, throwing for 299 more yards and three touchdowns, but Josh Freeman led the Bucs on a furious second-half comeback, coming within a failed two-point conversion of knotting the score early in the fourth quarter.

Tampa’s defence stiffened in the second half allowing Freeman — who has a history in his short career of bringing his team back — of trying to do it again.

Freeman threw for 342 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

After engineering a 91-yard drive culminating in a Mike Williams touchdown, Freeman found Kellen Winslow, but the veteran dropped the ball, preventing the Bucs from squaring the scoreline.

Still, the Bucs, now 4-6, would not give up. After John Kuhn stretched the Packers’ lead again, Freeman found Dezmon Briscoe in the end zone from two yards out to cut the gap again to two following the extra point.

But with the Packers in a rare vulnerable position, Rodgers, the runaway league MVP to this point of the season, finally regained his groove.

Nearly two full quarters after hooking up with Jordy Nelson for a short touchdown pass late in the first half, Rodgers and Nelson connected for a 40-yard touchdown with 2:55 remaining to seal the deal.

Defending the pass has been about the only concern for the Packers this season, who ranked second-last in the NFL in that category heading in. However, the team’s usually solid run defence (ninth-best entering play), had a let-down, allowing LeGarette Blount to rumble 54 yards for a touchdown with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half, turning a 14-0 blowout in the making into a one touchdown game.

Blount made a host of Packers look silly on the play and rushed for 107 yards on the day, despite a sore knee.

The Packers had opened the scoring by utilizing mammoth nose tackle B.J. Raji in the William (Refrigerator) Perry role at fullback.

Big Raji launched himself into the end zone from a yard out.

While Raji and Kuhn were able to complete short rushes, Green Bay’s usually solid halfbacks — Ryan Grant and James Starks — were puzzling nothing special against the NFL’s fourth-worst run defenders.

Starks and Grant combined for just 54 yards on the ground, averaging a meager 3.9 yards per carry, though, to be fair, Starks came up big prior to Kuhn’s touchdown.

Though it was far from his best outing of the season — he threw his fourth interception of the year and posted his second-worst QB rating (112.3 vs. his season average of 130.7) — Rodgers was good enough to lead the Pack to another win.

While Tampa deserves praise for its never-say-die attitude, Green Bay has now not lost at Lambeau Field since Oct. 17, 2010.

Green Bay, only the third defending Super Bowl champion ever to start 10-0 (joining the 1990 San Francisco 49ers and the 1998 Denver Broncos) remains very much the team to beat.

QUICK HITS

Trailing by four, Tampa Bay attempted an on-side kick late in the first half, but the Packers ended up with the ball and eventually got a late touchdown. The Bucs failed to retrieve a desperation onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter … Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew annoyed Browns fans by rushing for a touchdown, then bothered them some more by copying LeBron James’ powder in the air pre-game routine while in the end zone. James is just about the most hated man in Cleveland and Jones-Drew probably ensured that he’ll be booed lustily every time he sets foot there too … 49ers kicker David Akers missed two field goal attempts in the first quarter before opening the scoring against Arizona. He had missed two all season coming in … San Francisco’s Frank Gore passed Roger Craig for second on the 49ers’ all-time rushing list, and now sits behind only Joe Perry. Gore could eclipse Perry next week … Tony Romo was sacked for the first time in three games … Superstar Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware picked up his 14th sack of the season against Washington … Jacksonville linebackers Clint Session, Matt Roth and RB Kevin Rutland left the game against Cleveland with head injuries.


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