A tight battle in Green Bay came to a close as the Packers held off the New England Patriots 26-21 at home. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 368 yards and threw two touchdowns in a Packers victory, as the Patriots were not able to stop Green Bay after burning the rest of their timeouts with under three minutes remaining. Rodgers found wide receiver Randall Cobb on key third down to seal the victory.
In case you missed the game, here's our recap of everything that took place Sunday.
Green Bay involved running back Eddie Lacy often on the first drive, giving the second-year back from Alabama three straight touches to start the game. Lacy gained 39 rushing yards on the first drive on only four carries, while also hauling in the first pass of the game for 12. A bad defensive holding play on cornerback Brandon Browner helped give the Packers a new set of downs that eventually lead to a Mason Crosby 32-yard field goal. Rodgers attempted to find Davante Adams on third down, but didn't have enough time to accurately drop the pass in the end zone after the rookie broke off the line.
The Packers went down the field on 11 plays and gained 66 yards on their next drive, but an overthrow from Rodgers on third down once again forced Green Bay to settle for another field goal. Crosby's 35-yarder increased Green Bay's lead, 6-0. After the drive, Rodgers came off the field favoring his left hand after replays showed that Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins stepped on it when he scrambled for 17 yards moments before.
New England once again punted after just three plays, leading to Rodgers connecting with Adams on the ensuing drive for 45 yards. Adams hit a beautiful double-move on Logan Ryan at the line of scrimmage, and broke free down the sideline. On the next play, Rodgers tossed a touchdown to tight end Richard Rodgers for the second straight week, with this one going for 32 yards. After the point after from Crosby, the Packers took a commanding 13-0 lead at the end of one. Adams was targeted six times and caught three passes for 90 yards in the opening quarter.
Running back Brandon Bolden didn't score a single touchdown all season coming into Sunday's game, and didn't even receive a carry since Week 6, but scored from six yards out at the start of the second to finally put the Patriots on the board. The score was set up partially by a 29-yard pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski, but the Packers still led 13-7.
The Packers then went 57 yards in 13 plays, as Crosby tacked on another field goal to make the score 16-7. Brady and the Patriots then put together their best drive of the game to respond, moving down the field 80 yards, resulting in a Brandon LaFell two-yard touchdown with a minute and nine seconds remaining in the first half. That still was enough time for Rodgers and the Packers to answer, with Rodgers hooking up with Nelson for 45 yards across the middle with 14 seconds remaining, beating Darrelle Revis for the first time in the game and scampering across the field and to the pylon for a touchdown.
Green Bay went 81 yards in just 55 seconds, and went into halftime up 23-14 on the Patriots.
The Patriots punted again after a short three-and-out to start the second half of football. After starting their next drive on the 46, Rodgers completed a short pass to Cobb that went for 12 yards, which was soon followed up by an 11-yard gain on third-and-17 three plays later. It wasn't enough, though, and Green Bay settled for another field goal attempt. This time, Crosby missed wide left from 40 yards out, keeping the Patriots within distance at 23-14. Green Bay didn't go anywhere once again on their second drive, with Tim Masthay sending his first punt of the day. Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter.
Running back Jonas Gray received his first carry since his four-touchdown game on Sunday Night Football in Indianapolis, but it didn't mean much with LeGarrette Blount proving to be the more effective back of late. Blount rushed for 13 yards on back-to-back plays -- including one of them being a key third down -- to keep the Patriots' drive alive. After the second run, Brady threw a 15-yard strike to LaFell that once again went for a touchdown. LaFell caught the pass over cornerback Davon House who filled in for Sam Shields (who left in the first half to be evaluated for a concussion). House was never able to turn his head around on the play, as LaFell managed to catch the ball on his left side and sneak both feet in-bounds for the catch. The touchdown cut Green Bay's lead to just two, at 23-21 early in the fourth.
The Packers needed to respond to LaFell's touchdown -- and did courtesy of a Crosby 28-yard field goal -- but should have had seven points instead of three. Adams had six catches for 121 yards receiving at this point in the game, but would have had a touchdown if not for a killer drop on third down after a slant left him wide open just short of the end zone. Green Bay went up 26-21 and gave the Patriots the ball with under eight minutes to play.
New England converted on a fourth and short situation near midfield after Brady completed a pass to Julian Edleman. Brady charged the Patriots down within Green Bay's 20 yard line, and nearly had a touchdown completed to Gronkowski, but a breakup by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix just barely saved a remarkable grab in the end zone. On a crucial third down on the next play, Mike Daniels and Mike Neal brought down Brady in the backfield, forcing a Patriots field goal attempt. Stephen Gostkowski pushed it wide right from 47 yards out, giving the Packers the ball on their own 38 with under three minutes remaining.
On the next drive, Rodgers and the Packers forced the Patriots to burn all of their timeouts, and eventually converted on a game-sealing third and four situation to finish the game. That nailed a 26-21 Packers victory.
Sam Shields left the game early with a concussion, while linebacker Jamari Lattimore sustained an ankle injury. Both players did not return.
Green Bay will now prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons next week on Monday Night Football at home.