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New England drops third straight, 28-10

The Patriots play was as dreary as the weather as the Packers left a damp Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon with a 28-10 convincing victory over the now 3-3 defending Super Bowl champs. The Packers utilized a conservative passing attack and consistent running game to systematically dismantle a struggling Patriots team that has now lost its last three games.

While the Packers played well on both sides of the ball, especially considering the key injuries they had to overcome on defense, the real story of the game was New England's deficiencies in basically every aspect of the game from penalties to turnovers to simple mental and physical breakdowns. The Patriots committed 12 penalties for 126 yards, turned the ball over on three occasions (3 interceptions and one fumble) and had breakdowns in all three phases of the game.

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            After winning the opening toss the Patriots appeared to be taking advantage of the banged up Packers secondary as Tom Brady completed four straight passes for 27 yards, including two to Troy Brown who played in his first game since a knee injury in Week 3 against the Chiefs. After runs by Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk put the ball at the Packers 43-yard line Brady made his first mistake of the game. Brady looked for wide receiver David Patten deep down the right sideline, but the pass was slightly under thrown and intercepted by cornerback Bryant Westbrook at the Packers seven-yard line. Westbrook was playing in his first game for the Packers after having been signed by the team to address injures in the defensive backfield early this week. Fortunately for the Patriots though, the Packers could move the ball to just their own 41-yard line before having to punt.  

Following the punt the Patriots took over at their own 19 and put together what looked to be an impressive drive. But after moving to the Packers 40, similarly to what happened to the Packers on their possession, the drive stalled and Ken Walter punted to give the Packers the ball at their own 12, as a fast-moving first quarter ran out.

The Packers failed to move the ball to open the second quarter and kicked it back to a New England offense that had moved the ball relatively well on its two opening possessions. The Patriots took over at their own 36 and proceeded to march 50 yards in 10 plays, seven of them passes. The drive again stalled though and New England was forced to settle for an Adam Vinatieri 32-yard field goal to take the 3-0 lead early in the second quarter.

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            The Packers took over and utilized constant doses of Ahman Green on runs of 5, 11, 11 and 5 yards, and the accurate passing of Brett Favre to march down the field. It then appeared that the drive had stalled at the Patriots 36-yard line and that Green Bay would have to settle for a tie score. But on the field goal attempt the Patriots were called for not one, but two penalties. Ben Kelly was called for offsides and Richard Seymour was called for an illegal use of hands late in the play. The Packers accepted the Seymour penalty and the drive continued. Five plays later Favre took advantage of the second life and hit fullback William Henderson for a three-yard touchdown and the 7-3 lead late in first half.  

New England's ensuing possession was a two-play, error-filled nightmare. The first play was a five-yard run by Smith that was nullified by a David Patten holding penalty that set the Patriots up with a first-and-20 at their own 17. That is when disaster struck for the Patriots offense. Brady attempted to hit running back Kevin Faulk on a screen pass to his left that deflected incomplete. But while nearly every player on each side looked to return to the huddle, Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila went after the loose ball. Biamila recovered at the Patriots eight-yard line and the Packers took over possession as the officials ruled and consequently upheld that the pass was a lateral and by rule was a fumble and live ball.

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            Favre again took little time benefiting from the New England mistake and found Green for an eight-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The Packers took the 14-3 lead and Favre had a quietly impressive first half as he completed 10-of-15 passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns.  

New England had two more possessions late in the first half, but put little together as Brady threw a second interception and the other drive ended on an incomplete Hail Mary to end the half. The teams went to intermission at 14-3.

The Packers opened the second half with another impressive drive of 49 yards down to the Patriots 23-yard line. But the drive ended there on consecutive incomplete Favre passes intended for wide receiver Terry Glenn. A Ryan Longwell 42-yard field goal attempt went wide left and the score remained 14-3.

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            Following a Patriots three-and-out that included a Brady sack for a 10-yard loss, and a muff on the return by Packer Darrien Gordon, Green Bay took over at its own six-yard line. But thanks in part to a big 34-yard pass interference penalty on Patriots cornerback Ben Kelly, in the game for an injured Ty Law, the Packers marched 94 yards in just seven plays to pull away with 21-3 lead. The drive culminated on a pass of two yards from Favre to tight end Bubba Franks in the back of the end zone.  

With maybe its final chance to get back into the game, New England looked to fight back by putting together a drive from its own 17 all the way to the Green Bay 35. But the turnover bug struck yet again as Brady looked to hit an open Patten in the middle of the field. Brady didn't put enough air on the ball and rookie safety Marques Anderson was able step in front and intercept the ball at the Packer 13-yard line and return it to their own 35.

Green Bay capitalized on the turnover and essentially put the game away by going 65 yards in just seven plays, culminating in a Green one yard score to put the Packers up 28-3. Green also had the key play on the drive as he rumbled 38 yards through the Patriots lackluster defense. Green finished the day with 31 carries for 136 yards, the fourth straight week in which the Patriots have allowed a 100-yard rusher.

The Patriots added a late score as Brady connected with rookie wide out David Givens for a four-yard touchdown and the final score of 28-10.

The Packers improved to 5-1 on the season and the Patriots fall to a disappointing 3-3.

Game Notes

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            Anotwain Smith finished with 13 carries for 75 yards, although much of it came as the Packers went to a prevent-type defense in the second half. … Stephen Neal started his first career NFL game at right guard in place of the injured Joe Andruzzi. … Terry Glenn finished with just three catches for 19 yards in his first meeting with his old team. … Bobby Hamilton led the Patriots with 11 tackles and added a sack. … Roman Phifer continues to be one of the only bright spots on the New England defense as he finished with 10 tackles. … Brady finished up completing 24-of-44 passes for just 183 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and two sacks for a dismal 44.0 passer rating. … The inactives for the Patriots were Antwan Harris, Jimmy Hitchcock, Andruzzi, Grey Ruegamer, Tom Ashworth, Daniel Graham and Anthony Pleasant. … Givens became the 10th different Patriot to catch a touchdown pass this season. … The 18-point loss was the largest for the Patriots since falling at Miami by 20 on Oct. 7, 2001. … Kevin Faulk became the Patriots all-time leading kickoff returner, passing former Patriot David Meggett with his 27-yard return in the fourth quarter. Faulk has now returned 117 kickoffs for 2,582 yards in his career
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