Almost no one associated with the Green Bay Packers will ever forget the last meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2009.
This week, Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t go so far as to say that 38-28 loss to a previously winless team with a rookie coach and rookie quarterback and wearing its throwback "creamsicle" uniforms was a turning point in his tenure, but he did admit it was “definitely a wake-up call.”
The day began with a water pipe bursting above McCarthy’s head, flooding the Raymond James Stadium visitors’ locker room and forcing Green Bay players to get their ankles taped in an outside hallway.
“It didn’t get much better from there,” McCarthy said.
No, it didn’t. A blocked punt for a touchdown, a blown 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, and an interception returned for a score in the final moments sent the Packers back to Green Bay at 4-4, embarrassed and with their season in the balance.
“You never forget it,” defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. “It’s still hurting me. I can’t wait to play Sunday.
“I’m from Tampa, from the area, so to go back and see my family, they still ask me, ‘What happened to y’all that day?’ I don’t know, but this is a perfect time to redeem it.”
This time it’s the Packers who come into the game with a goose egg on their record, but in the loss column. Green Bay is looking to not only remain unscathed, but also healthy, through the most physically demanding portion of their schedule. Sunday’s game is the Packers’ second contest in six days, with a third over a span of 11 days coming on Thanksgiving in Detroit.
“Everybody has an obstacle when it comes to time, and how much time they have to prepare,” fullback John Kuhn said. “Everybody faces this at some point in time throughout the season. This just happens to be our murderer’s row. We’re just looking to put good performances on the field the next two games.”
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are looking to get back in the playoff picture. They’ve lost three straight games following a 4-2 start that included victories over NFC South rivals Atlanta and New Orleans.
Their win over the Saints came in bounce-back fashion, one week after a 48-3 drubbing at the hands of San Francisco. Last week, Tampa Bay was beaten soundly, again, 37-9 by Houston.
“We’re expecting to see their best,” Pickett said. “That’s what we’ve been getting from everybody we’re playing. We’re getting everybody’s best shot.
“We’ve been watching the good Tampa, the one that played the Falcons and the Saints, and that’s the team we expect to come up here. Their backs are against the wall as far as their season is concerned.”
And the Packers’ minds, at least a little, are on thoughts of redemption from two years ago.
“That’s what we’re looking forward to,” Pickett said. “Maybe if we beat them this time, it will get that bad taste out of our mouth, because a lot of players still have a sour taste in their mouth from that game.”
For more Packers-Buccaneers stories from the past week, click here.