What We Learned Against the Patriots

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers quieted the critics on Sunday, with a 26-21 victory over just about patriotsminihelmet_largeeveryone’s Super Bowl favorites. And, while the game was not over until the final possession, the final score was not truly indicative of how much better the Packers played than the Patriots.

Not enough can be said about the performance of the Packers offensive line on Sunday. Despite having to face mostly three and four-man rushes, the front five still gave Rodgers all day to throw. Rodgers received such great protection from his O-line that he could have easily thrown for over 400 yards. But the New England secondary did an outstanding job taking away the deep ball early in the game, forcing Rodgers to dance in the pocket, with nowhere to throw the ball.

New England’s blanket coverage was reminiscent of the inconsistent passing attack from Green Bay’s early-season losses in Seattle and Detroit. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner helped stall several red zone trips by Green Bay early in the game. This time, however, Rodgers and Co. finally broke out of the funk and established some rhythm before halftime, thanks in part to a career game from rookie Davante Adams.

Adams’ emergence comes at a crucial time, as opponents look to neutralize primary targets, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. With Adams now a legitimate threat to defenses, the Packers can afford to be more creative with the use of Cobb. Cobb lined up in the backfield a handful of times against New England, where he has historically received playing time in a change of pace role.

ajDespite some positives in the passing game, poor red zone efficiency ultimately put pressure on the Packer defense to contain one of the NFL’s electric offenses. But, for once, Dom Capers’ defense rose to the occasion, consistently applying pressure on Tom Brady while only allowing a modest performance to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady was constantly hurried by the Green Bay front seven and dropped for a sack by Mike Daniels and Mike Neal late in the game.

The defense’s admirable performance against Brady was their first versus a top-tier quarterback since 2011. Equally as exciting was the upgrade in play from the inside linebacker spot, as second-year linebacker Sam Barrington saw significantly more playing time than veteran A.J. Hawk. The Packers may have found their starting inside duo in Barrington and Clay Matthews, after entering the season with Hawk and Brad Jones as starters.

What We Learned Against the Patriots
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One thought on “What We Learned Against the Patriots

  • December 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    First admiral performance against a top-tier quarterback, or first performance in general? I’m asking because they played (poorly) against Drew Brees earlier this season. Just looking for a point of clarification, I guess.


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