Often times here on Take Two-sday we break down a more subtle play that ended up having a major impact on the outcome of the latest Patriots game, usually a victory.
But this week, following New England's hard-fought 26-21 loss in Green Bay that snapped the team's seven-game winning streak, there is a more obvious big play that simply can't be passed over in terms of swinging the football game toward the victorious Packers.
After trailing 13-0 and having been shut out in the first quarter in Green Bay, New England scored the game's next two touchdowns to pull within 16-14 with just more than a minute to go in the first half.
Despite the Packers moving up and down the field through the first 29 minutes of action, New England's red zone defense forced three field goals. Combine that with the offense scoring a pair of touchdowns after two early drives totaling just seven plays that led to punts, and New England was back in the game with the opportunity to receive the kickoff to open the second half.
The only problem was that Green Bay took over after the ensuing kickoff at its 10 with 1:05 to play and Rodgers had no intention of going quietly to the locker room with the two-point lead. After an incomplete throw, Rodgers found James Starks on a wheel route down the right sideline with defensive end Rob Ninkovich in coverage and took full advantage for a 28-yard gain. Another short completion to Jordy Nelson pushed things into Patriots territory at the 45 and one play later that duo would connect on a play that changed the game dramatically.
Facing third-and-two at the Patriots 45, Nelson lined up wide right with Darrelle Revis across the ball. Tight end Andrew Quarles was in the slot next to Nelson, with Patrick Chung defending. Ninkovich was also on the line, between his two secondary mates.
At the snap, Quarles takes a couple steps and breaks to the outside off of Nelson's butt. Nelson takes a few steps before breaking to the inside on a slant.
Revis, with outside leverage, ended up out of position and slightly behind Nelson. After the game, Revis would claim that he thought Nelson got away with pushing off.
Regardless, Rodgers made an accurate throw (of course he did!) that hit Nelson in stride as he angled across the field.
Safety Devin McCourty, who'd actually been on the defensive right hash at the snap, had drifted to his left to outside the left hash. As Nelson caught the ball just about on the hash, the safety had overrun the play.
Nelson turned on the jets and headed for the left pylon of the end zone with McCourty in tow and trying to make up ground.
The safety made a diving attempt just prior to the goal line but Nelson reached out to ensure the score before he was downed out of bounds.
The play gave Green Bay a 23-14 lead at halftime. The Packers scored just three points in the second half and held on for the big 26-21 victory.
Had New England not allowed the big score before the half, which came on two big plays, or at least held the home team to a field goal, the Patriots would have had a chance to take control of the game on the first drive of the second half.
Instead, the visitors were playing catch-up all day and never could overcome the deficit.
Revis has been good to great in his first season in New England. And one play doesn't ruin that reputation. But the hardest part about playing highly paid positions like cornerback or quarterback is that they come with high expectations. One play can destroy an otherwise good day.
Nelson's 45-yard touchdown did just that on Sunday evening in Green Bay for both Revis and the Patriots.
It changed the complexion of the game and in the end sent New England packing as a loser for the first time in two months
Unfortunately, it's just the kind of play that's worthy of plenty of attention and even a second look on Take Two-sday!