While the Packers first half offense stumbled, fumbled and picked their way to half time, the second half had gritty plays by both the offense and defense providing a thrilling victory for Lambeau Field fans of the Green and Gold. While the 27-24 winning play was Mason Crosby’s 31 yard field goal in overtime, and the win seemed a minimal victory, the Packers made some big advances on their quest to compete with the best in the NFL.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers threw a capital U- UGLY pick six to crush any momentum for the Packers going into half time. Yes, the Packers were down at half 10-7. Yes, the defense gave up two second half TD’s to a rookie QB playing his first meaningful minutes in the NFL. With all that ugly, the team hung together and won the game. That pick six by Rodgers could have crushed this team. The 4th quarter score by the Pats to retake the lead had the same potential.
JACK JONES PICK-SIX ON AARON RODGERS 😮
📺: CBS, Paramount+pic.twitter.com/Ri2PASW08T
Packer fans have seen three other Rodger’s pick sixes over the years. Two led to team implosions against Tampa. The other a 2017 comeback win in Cincinnati that ended with an identical 27-24 score. Like it or not, momentum in football is real. The mental attitude of players can effect the outcome. This Packer team did not flinch. In the third quarter the Packers were staring at third and ten at their 19. Rodgers first down pass to Watson sailed over his head.
The next attempt to Doubs was deflected away by the Patriot defense. On third down Rodgers threw a dart to Allen Lazard that was in one of the tightest of windows. Lazard had a defender’s arm on his shoulder the whole route, but he caught the ball and readied himself for the next play. All business. The Packers would later face a fourth and one in field goal range at the 28. LaFleur decide to go for it and his play call was a gem.
The pitch to Aaron Jones went outside for 17 yards. But adversity was still ahead. A phantom holding call on Bakhtiari cost the Packers ten yards in the red zone. On the ensuing second and nineteen Rodgers looked the safety off and tossed a money throw to Tonyan for a 20 yard touchdown.
The Packers were in the lead but New England would answer behind 3rd string rookie QB Bailey Zappe. Zappe only threw for a game total of 99 yards with 10 receptions but he did not throw an interception and managed a balanced attack that ran for 167 yards against the Packer defense.
After going down 14-10, Zappe started the comeback drive with a short pass to Bourne for 16. When the defense thought they had a sack on the next play, a penalty on Kenny Clark gave the Pats a free 15 yards and another first down at the 50 yard line. Zappe bookended the drive with his second pass, a 25 yarder to DeVante Parker for the go ahead touchdown. The score was 17-14 New England, and the Pats weren’t finished.
Rodgers led a nice drive of eight plays for 59 yards that stalled on 3rd and 4 when Rodgers was flushed from the pocket and could not find an open receiver. Crosby tied the game but the defense could not stop New England’s run game. Six running plays and one pass for 21 yards scorched the defense again. New score: 24-17 Patriots in the 4th quarter.
Give New England credit. They had a game plan that was working against the Packer defense. The Packer linebackers were getting caught on inside runs, not penetrating to get to the line of scrimmage. On outside run plays, New England prevented both outside linebackers from maintaining the edge.
To win, the Packers would have to come back in the 4th quarter. And come back they did. Rodgers led the offense on a nine play 75 yard drive that took five minutes off the clock. Clutch catches by Randall Cobb, who is earning his paycheck this year, and Doubs capped off two double digit runs by A.J. Dillon. Doubs made a truly professional adjustment on a back shoulder throw from Rodgers for the touchdown. The defense would then force a quick punt giving Rodgers time to win the game. Number 12 threw the game winning 40 yard perfect pass to Doubs for the …..drop in the end zone. All the fans knew the rookie wideouts would need time. Easy to say, harder to watch.
Luckily, the defense was able to shut down the Patriots late and in overtime, allowing Rodgers to drive 12 plays from their own 10 yard line to New Englands 13 to set up Crosby’s hero kick. The Packers faced adversity on every level on Sunday but stayed focus and executed when they needed to score to win the game. Sure, call it ugly, as ugly as a Belichick press conference after a playoff loss. But it was a win. A win where the wideouts, especially Doubs, Cobbs, and Lazard, made big catches. Next up, the NY Giants and Saquon Barkley. Let’s hope the run defense takes a leap over the pond in London next week. Set your alarm clocks!