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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith understands the reality: Green Bay fans have a large presence at a Buccaneers' home game.
With the NFC North title still up for grabs, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn't afford a slip-up against the struggling Bucs (2-13).
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.
"I look forward to the day we're playing good enough football where more of our fans want to come and see us play," Smith said. "Right now we're not playing good enough football. We'll have our day. Right now where we are, we have to take it."
It appeared that more than half of the announced crowd of 64,247 was Packer backers.
The Bucs 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.
"Worst offensive day we've had," Smith said. "We picked the worst possible time to play our worst (offensive) game, period. This was a frustrating day. I've had some bad ones and this was definitely one of them."
Tampa Bay kept it close with a solid defensive performance, forcing Rodgers' fourth turnover in two weeks with Michael Johnson's sack that caused a 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.
"To see the defense and the way that it played, it's frustrating, man," McCown said.
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.
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.
"I think the last couple of days, you see the kind of warrior he is," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He battled illness the last couple of days and then goes out and strains his (left) calf the first or second series. He didn't want to come out. Really a gritty performance by Aaron."
NOTES: Bucs LB Mason Foster left with an Achilles' tendon injury. "I kept pushing, but it was making me limp," Foster said. "It was one of those things where even if I pushed through it, I felt like I wasn't helping the team being out there and not being 100 percent." ... Tampa Bay OT Anthony Collins, WR Robert Herron and RB Mike James were inactive. Collins was a starter until being demoted before last week's game against Carolina.
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