It felt like the Green Bay Packers came into this game against the Patriots thinking this match-up was in the bag before the opening kickoff. The reality is it was a struggle in Titletown. Nothing came easy for Green Bay in a 27-24 victory over New England.
It took the Packers 70 minutes and a Mason Crosby field goal to put the pesty Patriots away. An odd contest. The Patriots came into the game starting backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. By the third series, they were onto their third-string rookie quarterback, Bailey Zappe.
The Packers didn’t allow Zappe to get the best of them. However, their run defense, which should be a strength, got gashed by Patriots running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson for 152 yards and a touchdown between the two of them.
Clunky Game Start to Finish – Struggle in Titletown
The game from start to finish felt clunky. Many thought this game would be a coming-out party for the Packers on both sides of the ball. On paper the Packers’ 443 yards of offense and 271 allowed by the defense sound palatable. But the reality is the Packers never really took control of the contest.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t play his best and he would probably admit as much. Rodgers completed 21 passes on 35 attempts for 251 yards and a touchdown. Not terrible numbers, but he threw a rare pick-six. Only his second of the kind in his career at Lambeau.
Sometimes in the NFL you just have to outlast your opponent. And that is what the Packers did. They pushed through the pick-six, the untimely fumble, the Patriots run game that they couldn’t stop, and the dropped passes and simply outlasted the Patriots.
Packers Run Game Continues to be a Force
Is a game like this one against the Patriots ideal? No, of course not. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were some positive takeaways from this contest as well. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon continue to punish opposing defenses. As the duo racked up 183 yards on 33 carries for 5.5 yards per carry average. Even Christian Watson got in on the running game scoring a 15-yard touchdown on a jet sweep in which he put his blistering speed on display.
The Packers’ wide receiver group is certainly experiencing some growing pains. The operation between them and Rodgers is at times dicey. Yet Allen Lazard finished with 116 yards on six catches while averaging over 19 yards a catch. Meanwhile, Romeo Doubs continues to impress. Scoring the second touchdown of his career against the Patriots and drawing more comparisons to Davante Adams from pundits everywhere. And once again, when Rodgers needs a catch, Randall Cobb delivers.
Defense Delivers When it’s Needed
On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers looked soft most of the afternoon. But at the end of the day, they finished with 4 sacks, two of them coming from rising star Rashan Gary. And most importantly, on the last 3 Patriots drives when the game was on the line the Packers’ defense held the Patriots to 15 yards on 9 plays and forced 3 punts. And remember, the last drive started at the Patriot’s own 49-yard line when a field goal would have won the game.
Packers fans everywhere want to see the Green and Gold take the field and dominate on both sides of the ball. It’s easy to see that the talent is there. They don’t have it all together just yet. Most reasonable Packers fans knew this would be the case. It’s gonna take some time.
Could London, against the New York Football Giants be the place? The Giants would like to throw a spanner in the works of a Packers breakout game. But hey, Rodgers throws a few touchdown passes, Jones and Dillon rush for 200 yards, Gary gets a few sacks, the defensive line shuts down Saquon Barkley and what do you know, Bob’s your uncle!——————
Patrick Hughes is an owner and life long fan of the Green Bay Packers. He is passionate about immersing himself into the Green Bay Packers community in Wisconsin and around the globe. A landscape designer and marketer by day and a Packers writer by night. You can follow him on twitter at @PHUGHESWI.