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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

New England Pays Visit to Green Bay: Fail to Come Away With A Win

We all know what this match-up meant for the top team in the AFC against one of the top teams in the NFC. The New England Patriots entered this contest with the best record in the AFC and on a seven game win streak. The Green Bay Packers held a slim margin in the NFC North and are one of the hottest teams as well, going 7-1 in the same stretch.

Both quarterbacks are firing on all cylinders, while the offenses have discovered the running game. But the Patriots continue to keep (inexplicably) Jonas Gray on the bench despite a 201 yard performance two weeks ago in relief of Stevan Ridley. LeGarrette Blount is quite adequate as his replacement, but not using all the weapons at your disposal is odd.

The first half showed what Aaron Rodgers can do. He was able to shred the New England defense with ease for 282 yards and two TDs. And on the other side of the ball, the Green Bay defense kept New England's running game relatively quiet, while limiting what Tom Brady could do through the air. Brady was almost constantly under pressure, while Rodgers had plenty of space for the most part.

Green Bay also controlled the time of possession, culminating the first half with a TD in answer to New England's second score with less than a minute to play.

The second half would be closer, as the Patriots held the Packers in check and scored the only TD to pull within two points in the fourth quarter. It was typical Patriots' play as they gave up yardage, but held the prolific Packers to merely a field goal with just over eight minutes to play.

New England had a chance to win it late in the fourth, but stalled on the Green Bay 20 and subsequently failed to stop the Packers' offense from moving the chains to fall short in the end. With only two minutes on the clock, the Packers just had kneel down and run out the clock.

But the story of the game, despite some good running by Eddie Lacy (98 yards), was the play of Rodgers, Davante Adams (who led all receivers with 121 yards), and the offensive line. Rodgers got the completions when he needed them the most. The biggest may have been the 45 yard TD to Jordy Nelson.

The Patriots could not get the ball downfield, leaving Brady to dink and dunk. With the running game being mediocre today, that was just not going to be enough to steal a win at Lambeau Field.

The stats tell the story- Rodgers out-gunned Brady and the Packer defense made the difference. The Patriot defense broke down under the assault and couldn't cover all of the weapons at Rodgers' disposal, especially when he had several seconds in the pocket on a good number of attempts.

Rodgers ended the day with 368 yards against Brady's 245. The Packers' offense beat the Patriots' defense, while the Patriots' offense just couldn't push back hard enough.

The good news for the Pats is that they still are tied for best record in the AFC, and hold the tie-breaker on the other two. The Packers are now tied with the Cardinals (who suddenly look like a whipped team) and the Eagles for best record in the NFC.

All those who called this a "Super Bowl Preview" may indeed be right. All things considered, that is a real possibility. Both teams have a relatively easy schedule remaining. And this time, it won't be as cold!


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