Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 11/19/11
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers thought he was going to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the fifth overall pick in 2005.Leading up to this Sunday's game between Rodgers' Green Bay Packers and the Buccaneers (Noon on FOX), the Super Bowl XLV MVP revealed that then-Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden held a private workout session with him before the 2005 draft. Gruden even brought in legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice to catch passes from Rodgers as part of the courtship.But the Buccaneers drafted running back Cadillac Williams at No. 5 instead, while Rodgers fell to the Packers at No. 24.While Rodgers became a Super Bowl champion in his third season as a starter, is the front-runner for this season's Most Valuable Player award and has led Green Bay to 15 consecutive wins dating back to nearly 11 months ago, Tampa Bay is working through the growing pains of third-year starting quarterback Josh Freeman.In a promising 2010 campaign, Freeman threw 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions as the Buccaneers finished 10-6. However, they missed the playoffs due to the tiebreaker edge being held by the 10-6 Packers.Instead of building off that success, Freeman and the Bucs have regressed this season. Freeman has nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions while Tampa Bay sits three games out of its division lead at 4-5."We're not a team full of all stars," Freeman said in a Wednesday teleconference. "We don't really have any. We're really young, and we can't ever get the sense of arrival that we've made it."Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris mentioned this week that one difference this season is that his team has played a tougher schedule.While Tampa Bay does have two victories this season against winning teams (Atlanta, New Orleans), only one of the Bucs' 10 wins last season came against a team with a record above .500. The combined records of the 10 teams Tampa Bay beat last season were 55-105.The last time the Packers and Buccaneers played was Week 9 of the 2009 season and Freeman was making his starting debut with Tampa Bay's record at 0-7. But Freeman outplayed Rodgers on that day in Florida and led the Bucs to one of their three wins that season.Two years later, that loss has not been forgotten in the Green Bay locker room."It's still hurting me," said defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who is from the Tampa area. "My family still asks me, What happened to ya'll in that game?' It's a perfect time to redeem it. Maybe we'll beat them this time and get that bad taste out of our mouth because a lot of players still have that sour taste in their mouth from that game."In Tampa Bay's last three games, all losses, Freeman and the offense have struggled, scoring a total of 43 points. That is less than what the Packers scored last week alone in their 45-7 win over the Vikings.Green Bay is the highest scoring team in the league at 35.6 points per game, which is more than twice as many as the Buccaneers at 17.3."One of the messages Coach (Mike McCarthy) had today is Any given Sunday, anybody can beat anybody,'" Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop said. "They're more than capable. But it'll be good to get a little revenge (from the '09 loss)."One of Tampa Bay's biggest issues this season has been on defense. Over the past decade, the Buccaneers' calling card has been their defensive prowess. They were the league's best defense in 2002 and 2005, second-best in 2007 and fifth in 2003 and 2004.This season, Tampa Bay has the second-worst defense in the NFL, allowing more than 400 yards per game."They're missing some assignments," Rodgers said in assessing the Bucs' defense. "I think it's just communication. I don't think you can say they've been just beaten in one-on-one stuff and that's been the direct correlation between their losses and how it happened, but I think just some miscommunication. Coach Morris has kind of crafted this into what he wants on defense. They're attacking more than a traditional Tampa-2 team would and playing a lot more man."The quality of an opponent's defense hasn't mattered with the season that Rodgers is having. He leads the league in completion percentage, passer rating, yards per pass attempt and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 28:3.On Sunday, Rodgers has an opportunity to make the Buccaneers organization further regret their decision to pass on him in the 05 draft. With the attitude that Rodgers has frequently talking about the motivation he's gained from being overlooked throughout his career he could draw closer to adding NFL MVP to his resume right next to Super Bowl champion against the team that could've had him.Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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