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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Dec 04 - 12:00 AM | Sun Dec 06 - 01:55 PM

Matchup Winners: Third downs take down Patriots




On paper the production doesn't look bad: 17 carries for 85 yards (5 yards per carry, excluding a Tom Brady kneel down). But the combination of early struggles and perhaps a premature departure from the running game made this a case of too little, too late. LeGarrette Blount once again stepped into the lead back role and finished with 10 carries for 58 yards, but much of that damage was done late with the Packers clearly playing pass. When Green Bay's much-maligned run defense looked to stop Blount it generally did. That was the case on the first drive of the game when the Packers first stopped Shane Vereen and then Blount on short yardage plays on consecutive snaps. Blount ripped off back-to-back 13-yard runs in the fourth quarter but other than that was held in check. Playing against a porous rush defense like the Packers, the Patriots should have expected more, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should have given Blount more opportunities.  EDGE: PACKERS



The Packers running game was almost the opposite of the Patriots. Green Bay started out great before New England slowly adjusted and held things largely in check from there. The damage was done, however, as Eddie Lacy racked up 98 yards on 21 carries for a solid 4.7-yard average. He was productive early, picking up 39 of those yards on his first three attempts. The Patriots improved and bottled up the power back for much of the second and third quarters, but late in the game Lacy became a factor once again. Three of Lacy's last four attempts picked up at least 4 yards as the Packers were trying to add some insurance points to their lead while also attempting to melt the clock. His last carry set up an extremely manageable third-and-four that Aaron Rodgers picked up with a pass to Randall Cobb. Had Lacy been stuffed on his runs on first and second down, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Instead Lacy provided the Packers with just enough balance in leading a 130-yard effort on the ground for the hosts. EDGE: PACKERS



Brady was sacked only once but Green Bay was able to flash consistent pressure around him all evening. That pressure seemed to affect Brady at times and several of his throws appeared rushed and well off target. He did make his share of plays, completing 22 of 35 passes for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Brandon LaFell, but he couldn't put many of those plays together and the Patriots struggled to stay on the field. That fact was illustrated by New England's 4-for-10 performance on third down, which allowed the Packers to maintain control of the game from the outset. Despite those struggles, the Patriots had the ball with five minutes to go needing a touchdown to take the lead, and Brady had his favorite target matched up one-on-one with a rookie in the end zone. Brady's pass to Rob Gronkowski was low, however, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was able to get a hand on it and prevented the tight end from making the catch. That's the kind of game-on-the-line throw Brady has made in the past but he failed to connect on this day.  EDGE: PACKERS



On one hand the Patriots secondary performed extremely well under difficult circumstances. The guys up front did little to nothing to help them out, often giving Rodgers in excess of five seconds to find a suitable target. Many times the Packers quarterback still couldn't land an open receiver, which speaks well of the job done in coverage. Rodgers is still Rodgers, however, and he slipped out of the pocket many times to stick daggers into the secondary with pinpoint throws on the move. Rodgers completed 24 of 38 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns, none bigger than his 45-yard slant to Jordy Nelson with 14 seconds left in the half. He had completions of 45 (twice), 33, 32 (touchdown) and 28 yards. Those are the types of big plays the Patriots have been excellent at preventing all season, but they were the difference in the game on Sunday. Rodgers also excelled on third down, converting 10 of 17 chances (59 percent), which allowed Green Bay to hold the ball for almost 37 minutes. Brandon Browner turned in another solid performance, limiting Nelson to just one catch on his watch, but Darrelle Revis was victimized on Nelson's key touchdown, and rookie Davante Adams dominated both Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Dennard to the tune of six catches for 121 yards. It would have been worse had Adams not dropped a sure touchdown near the goal line. This performance was not as bad as the numbers make it look, but it wasn't great either.  EDGE: PACKERS



It was a cold night at Lambeau and the conditions clearly affected the kicking game. Both kickers missed field goals with Stephen Gostkowski's misfire from 47 yards that would have cut the lead to two looming as a huge play coming with just 2:40 left. Gostkowski didn't record any touchbacks either while Mason Crosby managed two. Crosby did have an errant kickoff roll out of bounds in addition to his missed 40-yarder in the third quarter that allowed the Patriots to hang around in a game they were thoroughly outplayed in. Give Rob Ninkovich credit for handling the long snapping duties without incident in place of Danny Aiken, who missed the game with a concussion. Tim Masthay got only one chance to punt while Ryan Allen struggled, averaging just 37 yards on his four punts. Danny Amendola had a solid 28-yard kick return and brought another back to the 27 after a short kickoff. DuJuan Harris looked explosive returning kicks for the Packers, bringing two back to the 28 and nearly breaking both. Not much to choose from but Gostkowski's kick was the biggest gaffe of the night.  EDGE: PACKERS

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