The Haphazard Blog

Patriots vs. Packers Recap

by on December 23, 2010 3:51 PM, under Football, Patriots, Sports

This game ended up being a lot closer than people expected, especially with Matt Flynn filling in for Aaron Rodgers. The main thing I take away from this game is as the offense goes, the defense goes. The better the offense plays, the better the defense plays.

I felt like on the opening onside kick, James Sanders had a shot at just knocking the ball out of bounds instead of trying to get on top of it. It was probably the last thing on his mind, but that could’ve preserved possession.

Tom Brady’s record no interception streak continued with another fortuitous drop by the opponent. This time, a great play by Charles Woodson to drop off his guy and double Rob Gronkowski. The ball hit Woodson in the hands and he just dropped it. I was surprised to find out that the Patriots had an NFL record with 5 straight games (now 6) without a turnover. On the surface, that number doesn’t seem that high, so it demonstrates just how difficult it is to avoid interceptions and fumbles game to game.

Deion Branch and Wes Welker didn’t have big games catching, but at least on the 33 yard touchdown run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis they had the key blocks that created the lane and allowed him to get to the end zone.

Once again, Brandon Meriweather took a bad angle. This time he added a whole new level of ineptitude by tackling his teammate to prevent him from tackling the receiver for a 20-25 yard gain. Instead it becomes a 66 yard touchdown making a 10-7 lead 17-7. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Meriweather will not be re-signed. I could even see him getting traded next year.

The Packers defense has really made life difficult for the Patriots. They are getting pressure and sacks on Brady. They are stopping the 1st down runs exceptionally well putting them in 2nd and long. Short throws to Branch and Welker are not easy. The Packers defense is every bit as good as advertised. The way the Patriots have shredded the top defenses this year makes the performance even better. I’d say looking back on the season so far, the Chargers and Ravens are going to pose the most difficulty in the AFC and if the Patriots were to get to the Super Bowl, the Packers have shown they can play them tough as well.

The Connolly kick return easily elicited the biggest “oh my god, I can’t believe I just saw that” moment of the season. He was protecting that ball and ready to be taken down when there was an opening for him to run the ball some more. He threw a stiff arm and made a cut back to get all the way down to the 4 yard line. It was too bad he didn’t score, but it was amazing. I’ve also noticed Connolly returns kicks better than Alge Crumpler this year. Crumpler doesn’t even look as “graceful” doing it.

Kyle Arrignton broke 4 tackles on his interception return for a touchdown. I think it was a big play by him. The Packers defense could’ve easily held the Patriots to a field goal (they didn’t have the easiest of times scoring from 4 yards out) which ended up being the difference in points (ignoring the butterfly effect of course).

The final drive was filled with nail biting. Tully Banta-Cain continued his knack for untimely penalties (although the other guy also had his hands in Banta-Cain’s face). The Patriots had a game sealing interception on that play. The biggest play of the game was Patrick Chung tackling Donald Driver 1 yard short of a 1st down on 3rd and 11 in bounds. It kept the clock running and the Packers had no time outs. They also couldn’t spike the ball to stop the clock. As a result, they took so long getting the play off that it was their last chance and they had to get a touchdown. Banta-Cain caused a fumble to end it.

Another take away from this is the situation. The Packers got the ball back with 4:22 left at their own 43, 2 timeouts and the two minute warning down by 4 points. So they essentially had 4+ minutes and 3 timeouts to move the ball 57 yards. If they score, the Patriots would need at least a field goal to force overtime. The Patriots had all 3 timeouts and Bill Belichick chose not to use any. Either the defense was going to stop them from scoring or they were going to (most likely) lose the game. I think that says a lot about how much Belichick trusts his defense. He did not decide that the offense was the way they were going to win that game (like 4th and 2 at Indy).  It looks like they are coming along.

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