The Patriots were at their “bend-but-don’t-break” best Sunday at Lambeau Field as Aaron Rodgers threw for 368 yards and the Packers rushed for 130 yards total, but high-powered Green Bay got into the end zone just twice. Four Mason Crosby field goals, however, gave the Packers just enough points to hold off a strong effort by the visitors, as Green Bay (9-3) edged New England, 26-21, in a battle of AFC and NFC front-runners. It was the Patriots (9-3) first loss since Sept. 29 at Kansas City.
It looked as though Tom Brady and the Patriots offense were going to get the ball back with a couple of minutes to play with in the fourth but, on third-and-4, Aaron Rodgers completed a seven-yard pass to Randall Cobb at midfield, clinching a Green Bay victory.
The Pats put the pressure on Green Bay in the fourth quarter as Brady found Brandon LaFell for a 15-yard touchdown to cut the Packers’ lead to 23-21 with 13:55 remaining. An 11-play, 65-yard Green Bay drive that ate up 5:10 followed and Crosby capped it with a 28-yarder. The Patriots responded with a methodical drive of their own, highlighted by Brady and Julian Edelman connecting on a five-yard completion on a fourth-and-3 at midfield with 6:39 left. But the Pats offense stalled at the Green Bay 29 when Brady was sacked on third down with 3:25 remaining. Stephen Gostkowski didn’t make things easier for New England when he missed a 47-yard field goal.
What went wrong:
A look at areas where the Patriots stumbled Sunday afternoon in Green Bay:
• Small lapses in the defense hurt the Patriots and Aaron Rodgers was there to take full advantage. Jordy Nelson looked as though he would become Darrelle Revis’ latest victim, but on the Packers final drive of the first half he caught two passes, including a slicing, 45-yard touchdown grab.
• The much-maligned Green Bay defense came to play against the Patriots as it held the New England rushing attack to just 84 yards on 18 carries.
• Tom Brady was good, but not great as he completed 22-of-35 passes for 245 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.