The Green Bay Packers faced one of the best teams in the league for the second week in a row. For the second week in a row, a couple major mistakes cost them a chance to win. In the end, they fell to the New England Patriots 31-17.
It may look like a blowout, but the Packers had their opportunities.
The game turned when running back Aaron Jones fumbled at the Patriots’ 26 while the Packers were driving for what would have been the go-ahead score. The game was 17-17 at the time.
On the ensuing drive, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field for a touchdown. That drive was buoyed by a 37-yard catch and run by Julian Edelman. James White scored three plays later.
Then came the touchdown that sealed it. After a Packers punt, Brady hit Josh Gordon for a 55-yard touchdown after pretty much everyone on the Packers’ defense bit on a fake screen pass.
To go from having a chance to take the lead on the Patriots in Foxboro to being down one and then two touchdowns had to be crushing. The Packers couldn’t muster anything the rest of the way.
Injuries were a big story for both teams in this game. The Patriots came in without No. 1 running back Sony Michel and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Packers came in without receiver Geronimo Allison, but then lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga, safety Kentrell Brice and, briefly, inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Safety Jermaine Whitehead was also tossed for retaliating against Patriots center David Andrews.
Whitehead didn’t punch Andrews. He slapped him on the helmet with an open hand. Technically, that isn’t cause for ejection. It’s cause for a penalty, which was called, but Whitehead shouldn’t have been thrown out of the game.
The Patriots scored three plays later.
The Patriots also benefitted from a questionable roughing the kicker penalty in the third quarter. Tight end Robert Tonyan ran into Patriots punter Ryan Allen on a 4th-and-21. It was called roughing, a 15-yard penalty. It should have been called running into the kicker, a 5-yard penalty. It would have ended the Patriots drive there and given the Packers decent field position.
The Patriots ended up punting anyway, but they got four more plays and a little better field position.
Much like last week, the Packers’ defense did almost enough to win the game. Other than the blown coverage on Gordon that led to his touchdown, it was a solid effort against an all-time great quarterback. Especially when you consider they were undermanned.
The Packers’ offense couldn’t quite keep up, though.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Packers aren’t far off. Of course, the fact of the matter is the Packers are now a sub-.500 team.