Mason Crosby kicked a field goal as time expired in overtime to give the Green Bay Packers a 27-24 win over the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers overcame a slow start and passed for 251 yards and two touchdowns while Aaron Jones ran for 110 yards on the game.
The win improves the Packers record to 3-1 on the season and ties them with the Vikings for first place in the NFC North.
Here is a look at 10 things we learned from the Packers 27-24 win over the Patriots:
- Aaron Rodgers Overcame a Slow Start
Aaron Rodgers was not playing well in the first half of this game and his overall performance was uneven at best. When the game was on the line in overtime, however, Rodgers came through for the Packers.
At the half, Rodgers had completed just 4-of-11 passes for 44 yards and he threw an ugly pick six in the second quarter that gave New England a 10-7 lead at the half.
Rodgers was out of sync with his receivers and appeared to have difficulty reading the defenses Bill Belichick was throwing at him.
After halftime, Rodgers picked up his game, made better reads and the Packers moved the ball after that. In the first half, the Packers had only 125 total yards of offense and 10 points. They finished the game with 443 yards and 27 points.
- Rashan Gary Is a Dominant Force
The Packers have a star edge rusher in Rashan Gary. The Michigan alum finished the game with two sacks, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and seven total tackles. He had a strip sack in the first half and recovered the fumble himself on a heads up play.
Gary now has a sack in each of the team’s first four games and five on the season. He is a dominant player at this stage in his career and is well on his way to his first double-digit sack season and his first Pro Bowl berth.
- Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon Got the Job Done
The Packers running game continues to work well. Aaron Jones gained 110 yards in 16 carries which is an average of 6.9-yards per rush. He remains a threat to break a long run every time he touches the ball. Jones was consistently picking up yards with every carry. Remarkably, his long run of the day was 20 yards but he had eight carries of five or more yards in this game.
Dillon came up big in overtime and was the workhorse on the game-winning drive, carrying six times for 24 yards and picking up some important gains. He finished the game with 73 yards on 17 carries for a 4.3-yard average.
As a team, the Packers gained 199 yards on the ground and averaged 5.7-yards per rush. The offensive line did a good job of opening holes with Allen Lazard and Marcedes Lewis also helping with some key blocks to spring the runners.
- The Defense Struggled Against Backup Quarterbacks But Came Up Big in the Clutch
The Packers defense had it’s moments of strong play and only gave up 17 points (remember the pick six wasn’t on the defense) but it was a bit discouraging given the fact that they were playing against the Patriots second string quarterback who hadn’t won a start in years and a rookie, third-string quarterback who was making his first appearance in an NFL game.
The defense still allowed 167 yards on the ground and New England averaged more than five yards per carry which was disappointing.
Still, the Pats had only 271 total net yards in a game that featured a full 10 minutes of overtime and the Packers had four sacks against a team that only attempted 21 passes all game.
More importantly, the defense came through when the team needed them most. The Pats failed to pick up a first down on their final three possessions of the game including in OT when New England took over near midfield and only needed 10-15 yards to get into field goal range.
More consistency is needed from this unit but statistically, the defense did it’s job and came through in the clutch.
- Kick and Punt Coverage Was Poor
Packers special teams were playing better the first three games of the season but the punt and kick return coverage wasn’t as good this week.
New England’s Marcus Jones averaged 24.5-yards per punt return and 27.8-yards per kick return including a 37 yard effort. Those numbers would have been even worse had New England not taken some penalties during some of their returns.
- The Patriots Got a Gift Touchdown
The Patriots got a gift touchdown in the third quarter on a play that was Bailey Zappe’s first career NFL touchdown pass. The play clock not only expired but reset to 40 seconds before the ball was snapped but no flag was thrown for delay of game. Yes, the officials are supposed to give the quarterback that half second that it takes for them to blow the whistle and throw the flag after the play clock expired but this one wasn’t even close.
The Packers responded on their next drive and tied the game at 17-17 on a Mason Crosby field goal.
- Mason Crosby Came Through in the Clutch
With the game on the line, the veteran kicker came on and calmly booted a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers the victory.
Crosby got the job done when the team needed him most and he seems to be kicking a lot better this season with Jack Coco and Pat O’Donnell doing the long snapping and holding respectively.
- Injuries Mounting
The Packers already played this game without CB Jaire Alexander and they were wise to be cautious with him this week. But early in the game, safety Adrian Amos suffered a concussion and did not return.
It is not clear whether Amos will be able to play next week when the Packers travel to London and whether he will clear concussion protocol.
Rudy Ford replaced Amos and made seven tackles in the game including six solo stops.
- Rodgers Outsmarted Belichick In OT
The chess match at the line of scrimmage between Rodgers and Bill Belichick was an interesting one to watch throughout the game but in overtime, the Packers quarterback outsmarted the Patriots defense.
Facing 1st-and-10 at the New England 45, Rodgers saw the Patriots CB giving wide receiver Romeo Doubs a large cushion at the line of scrimmage. He went to Doubs on quick passes at the line on back-to-back plays that gained eight and then nine yards. That put the Pack in field goal range at the New England 28 and gave the offense the opportunity to run out the clock and set up the winning field goal.
- London Calling
The Packers are now 3-1 on the season after escaping with this nerve-wracking victory. Now they head to London to play their first ever overseas game in the regular season against the New York Giants. It will be interesting to see how Matt LaFleur handles the change in routine and time zones in the week ahead as the team has a new experience.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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