GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones’ 20-yard touchdown run on his only carry , with 5:59 left in overtime, gave the Green Bay Packers a 26-20 win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With the passing game struggling, Green Bay (6-6) wore down the Buccaneers on the ground. Brett Hundley had runs of 18 and 7 yards on the drive to start overtime.
The Packers grinded out a win to stay in the playoff race, though they trail NFC North leader Minnesota by four games. They hope to get starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers back from a collarbone injury in a couple weeks.
“When you can grind it out and do things a different way and your team’s successful … we’re a better team today, not only because we won the game but how we won,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Jameis Winston threw two touchdown passes to Cameron Brate in the quarterback’s shaky return from a shoulder injury. But the defense couldn’t hold up in overtime for the last-place Buccaneers (4-8).
Mason Crosby’s 22-yard field goal tied the game at 20 with 2:01 left, giving the team a lift after the Bucs tried to wear out the Packers on the run.
Peyton Barber had 102 yards for 23 carries. Winston finished 21 of 32 for 270 yards, including an 11-yard scoring pass to Brate for a 20-17 lead with 6:02 left.
But Winston had defenders in his face all day and had trouble holding on to the ball. Linebacker Clay Matthews had 2 1/2 sacks to lead a sterling effort by the pass rush.
“We didn’t protect Jameis,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “That’s probably our worst protection game we’ve had all year.”
Back after missing three games with a right shoulder injury, Winston fumbled on a sack by Kenny Clark in the second quarter. Defensive lineman Dean Lowry snatched the loose ball in the air and rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown and Lambeau leap with a 17-7 lead.
“I don’t even know how the ball came out,” Winston said. “When I reared it back (my arm) hit something.”
The offense stayed quiet until the last few minutes of regulation and overtime.
Hundley finished 13 of 22 for 84 yards, adding seven carries for 66 yards. Jamaal Williams ran for 113 yards on 21 carries for Green Bay.
The Packers think they need to win their last four games to have a shot at the postseason. If they can beat the Cleveland Browns next week, it could set up a scenario in which Rodgers could return the following week at Carolina.
“Honestly I’d be fine with throwing 87 yards if we win them all,” Hundley said.
Rodgers returned to practice on Saturday for the first time since getting hurt on Oct. 15 at Minnesota.
Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan departed in the fourth quarter with a neck injury. Also, line judge Tom Stephan had to be helped to board a cart that took him off the field after he got hurt on a third-down play with 11:08 left in the first quarter.
Buccaneers: Host the Detroit Lions on Dec. 10.
Packers: Visit the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 10.
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