Aaron Rodgers outduels Tom Brady in Packers win
By Chris Wesseling, NFL.com
~Aaron Rodgers threw for 368 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 26-21 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday. Our takeaways:
1. We were denied a chance to see Rodgers in a two-minute drill with the game on the line when Ha Ha Clinton-Dix knocked the ball out of a diving Rob Gronkowski’s hands in the end zone. Tom Brady was sacked on third down the following play, ending the Patriots’ comeback hopes. As expected, Rodgers and Brady put on a quarterback clinic, trading beautiful throws throughout the afternoon. It has been roughly two years, 360 pass attempts and 31 touchdowns since Rodgers’ last interception at Lambeau Field. He has to be the favorite for MVP honors this season.
2. Beyond the marquee quarterback matchup, the battle between Darrelle Revis and Jordy Nelson was a joy to watch. As stingy as any cornerback over the past month, Revis was excellent save for Nelson’s 45-yard touchdown that put the Packers ahead by two scores at the half. Nelson and Randall Cobb became the first pair of wide receivers in franchise history with at least 10 touchdowns in a season.
3. With the Cardinals losing again on Sunday, the Packers are in pole position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s a problem for the rest of the NFC, as Lambeau has been the most dominant home field in the NFL this year. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ margin for error as the AFC’s top seed has slimmed. They do still enjoy a tiebreaker advantage over the Broncos, Colts and Bengals.
4. After getting benched against the Lions, Week 11 breakout star Jonas Gray didn’t see the field until the final play of the third quarter. He was the fourth running back in the rotation Sunday, working behind LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen and even special teamer Brandon Bolden.
5. Rookie wide receiver Davante Adams had the best game of his young career with 121 yards on a team-high 11 targets, but dropped a crucial third-down pass that would have gone for a touchdown. If Sunday is a sign of big plays to come, Rodgers will be dicing up defenses with the most complete wide-receiver corps in the league.
6. After a slow start to the season, Eddie Lacy is averaging 5.0 yards per carry since Week 5. He has combined for 46 carries the past two weeks after being limited to 17 or fewer in the first 11 games. The Packers have shown a more balanced offense of late, which is a good sign for the stretch run.
7. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower deserves Pro Bowl recognition this season. He and breakout star Jamie Collins combined for 22 tackles, two sacks and two more tackles for loss on Sunday.
8. Thriving with an accurate quarterback, Brandon LaFell has already set season highs in receptions (53), yards (712) and touchdowns (7).
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