NFL

Rodgers and Packers aiming to end sorry record against Brady and Buccaneers

By Sports Desk September 23, 2022

The Green Bay Packers' trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday will be a tale of two veteran quarterbacks, though each has different form in previous fixtures heading into the latest encounter.

Tom Brady has thrown 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions in his last five games against the Packers, while Aaron Rodgers has eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his five career games against the Buccaneers – the only NFL team he has thrown more interceptions against than touchdowns.

In 2022, both quarterbacks have two touchdown passes from their opening two games of the season with neither team excelling in the air, the Buccaneers having 402 receiving yards, putting them 26th in the rankings, while the Packers are 19th with 494 yards.

The Packers have been far more effective with the ball on the ground, accumulating 314 rushing yards and ranking sixth in the NFL, while the Buccaneers are 14th with 224 yards – 192 of which have come from Leonard Fournette.

Defensively is where Tampa Bay have shone, allowing the fewest points in the NFL this season (13); a tally which stands third in their best-ever starts to the season behind 1992 (10 points) and 2003 (12 points).

The Packers are no pushovers though, allowing their opponents a total of 33 points in the opening two matches and ranking seventh in that regard. Second-half defence has been integral to that, giving up just nine points.

With the teams looking well-matched on both sides of the field, it may come down to individual mistakes in possession and the Buccaneers have the edge in that aspect, fumbling just once this season compared to the Packers four.

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    The world number three cruised to a straight-sets victory over J.J. Wolf on Court Philippe-Chatrier, dropping just four games en route to a convincing triumph.

    Spain's Alcaraz had worries over featuring at Roland-Garros, where he was defeated in the semi-final last year, due to a troublesome arm injury.

    The 21-year-old played through his first-round victory with a supportive sleeve on his right arm, though that issue did not cause Alcaraz any problems on his emphatic return.

    "I would have loved to have played more matches," Alcaraz said after his dominant performance in Paris. 

    "I don't need too many matches to get to 100 per cent. I think I prepared well these past two weeks before coming to Paris.

    "I felt well moving. My forearm is getting better and better. That is something good for me.

    "I think I don't need too many matches to play my best."

    Alcaraz claimed a 12th win from his opening 15 matches at Roland-Garros. Since 2000, only two players have claimed more from that opening span of matches – Rafael Nadal (15) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (13).

    The powerful Alcaraz also boasts a record of 21-1 against players ranked outside the top 50 at major events, with his only such defeat inflicted by Mikael Ymer at the 2021 Australian Open.

    "I am really happy to be back here and back here in Paris," Alcaraz added. "To compete again has been a difficult month for me. I love competing and playing tennis. To stay away from that was hurting for me.

    "I tried everything I could do to be here at 100 per cent. I think I showed my best tennis today. I'm really, really happy to show my best tennis again.

    "I love playing here in Paris. The energy from the crowd here is something special. Seeing the full stadium in the first round is amazing. It's great for tennis to have a lot of people come into the tournament. I'm trying to make the people enjoy as well."

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    The Spaniard reached the last four at Roland-Garros last year, losing to eventual winner Novak Djokovic, and started his 2024 campaign in impressive fashion after 6-1 6-2 6-1 triumph.

    Jack Draper or Jesper de Jong await in the next round for Alcaraz, who headed into this tournament as the youngest player in the Open Era to reach the round of 16 at seven consecutive majors.

    The world number three hammered America's Wolf in the first set on Court Philippe-Chatrier, securing a 1-0 lead after just 37 minutes of action in Paris.

    Wolf held his serve for the first time in the second set but soon fell 5-1 behind, with a comeback never seeming likely against the dominant 21-year-old.

    A string of eye-catching winners helped Alcaraz twice break the struggling Wolf in the thrid set as the two-time major winner made light work under the roof with rain pouring in the French capital.

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