Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is an American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League.

But with 18 seconds remaining, this had the makings of a classic Brady ending. All that was needed was a two-point conversion to send the game to overtime.

And then the Bucs couldn’t get set. They took a delay of game penalty and another pass to Gage fell incomplete. This was the G.O.A.T. stuff the biggest Buccaneers game crowd in Raymond James Stadium history had come for, which had been limited by mistakes, penalties and the Green Bay defense all day.Metaphorically, a failure to get set, a lack of execution, has been the story of the offense — which has managed just three touchdowns in three games — this season. But it was literally the issue here, in the Bucs’ 14-12 loss to the Packers, and it wasn’t a surprising one. An offense that was down its two primary targets, and that held out a third weapon, and that signed a player off the street early last week and elevated him off the practice squad in the morning and then threw the second pass of the day to him — that offense is probably not going to have the smoothest operation in the heat of the moment, even if Brady gave up his veteran day off to take every rep in practice this week.

The picture of the day was one of Brady ducking under a potential sack and chugging — not exactly sprinting — for 18 yards on third down late in the third quarter, breaking his knee brace when he slid. He said later he saw a lot of green grass in front of him, but what he couldn’t see was the holding penalty behind him that wiped out the play entirely. The drive ended with a punt, instead of continuing with the Bucs near midfield.

Brady joked that it is usually not a good thing. But this was more than that, symbolic of how many chances the Bucs had despite the absences, how very often they made it harder on themselves. The Bucs’ defense was stellar, shutting out Aaron Rodgers in the second half. They allowed the Packers just two touchdowns on the day, forced two turnovers, including a fumble as the Packers were about to go in for a touchdown, and the Bucs could not capitalize.

“We didn’t have to have those guys to win this ballgame,” said a visibly frustrated coach Todd Bowles. “We just had to play smarter. We had chances to win this game. We shot ourselves in the foot. Talent had nothing to do with the way we shot ourselves in the foot.”

Aaron Charles Rodgers is an American football quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League

“It feels good for sure,” said Rodgers, who pointed out the Packers managed to keep pace with the victorious Vikings and Bears for a three-way deadlock atop the NFC North at 2-1. “That’s the focus.”

The Packers gave credit to the Buccaneers for turning their defensive fortunes around after Green Bay’s offense put on a clinic through the first quarter and a half. Aaron Jones‘ fumble on the goal line that prevented a third straight score became a turning point of massive proportions.

Tampa Bay’s defense is one of the best, if not the best, in the league, but the Packers also know they had more chances than the scoreboard indicated.

In particular, Rodgers lamented an incomplete pass late in the fourth quarter, two plays after Allen Lazard hauled in a 26-yard blitz beater to get the Packers across midfield.

Needing maybe one more first down (or close to it) to give kicker Mason Crosby a high-percentage shot at three more points, a double-crossing route went awry when the two receivers bumped into each other and Rodgers’ pass went to no man’s land.

Rodgers explained one receiver was supposed to run his route over top of the other one, but the underneath receiver ran his route too high, and Juwann Winfree got tripped up rather than head toward the vacant area.

“That should have been a completion to Juwann inside field-goal range,” Rodgers said. “Bada bing, bada boom, ballgame.”

If only it were that easy. But those are the kind of mistakes that are holding the Packers back in the early stages of this season.

“Offensively we’re young, and we’re struggling at times to finish things off,” said Rodgers, who also regretted not giving Jones a better throw on the play he fumbled rather than scored. “It’s happened obviously in both of our wins.”

But the last two have been wins, and there’s something to be said for being 2-1 after three weeks when two road games were against the biggest divisional competition and a playoff contender QB’d by Brady.

In some ways, this is how the Packers were expected to have to win early, as an offense going through a transition at receiver figured some things out.

By Vikram

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