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Patriots, but not by much

New England narrowly avoids an upset against Green Bay, even with Rodgers out of the lineup.

What went right for the Pats ...


1. Grinding it out — It wasn’t pretty, but the Pats squeaked out the win. On a night where the offense just didn’t seem completely there, the defense was that much worse. Matt Flynn did his best Aaron Rodgers impersonation, but great teams find ways to win.


2. Happy return — Speedy WR Brandon Tate has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, so you can understand Green Bay not wanting to kick the ball to him (if only the Giants had learned that lesson). Instead, the ball went to 6-foot-4, 313-pound offensive lineman Dan Connolly ... who returned it 71 yards to set up a Patriots touchdown in the closing minutes of the first half.


3. A righted wrong — The Patriots blew it on the opening kickoff, letting Green Bay recover an onside try. But New England made up for the flub later on. On the Packers’ opening drive in the third quarter, Kyle Arrington intercepted a pass by Flynn and returned it 36 yards for the touchdown. The pick-six gave the Patriots a 21-17 lead and a much-needed spark.


What went wrong ...


1. Asleep at the start — It didn’t take long for the Packers to get creative in trying to find ways to beat the Patriots without Aaron Rodgers. They recovered an onside kick to start the game, leading to a field goal. With Green Bay out to an early lead, it was clear they’d put up a fight.

2. Too many penalties — Already trailing 10-7, the Patriots didn’t help themselves out much. They racked up three penalties on the same drive, one of which was a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call on rookie cornerback Devin McCourty. The penalties gave Green Bay enough chances to score a TD and take a 17-7 lead.

3. Not enough time —
There are a few reasons why Green Bay had the ball for 40:48 compared to just 19:12 for the Pats. The Packers made 25 first downs — 10 of them coming on third down. The prolonged drives prevented Tom Brady and the Pats from getting into the flow of things.

 
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