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Patriots 31, Packers 17: 10 quick thoughts from 6th straight win

Ryan Hannable
November 04, 2018 - 11:32 pm
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FOXBORO — It took a little longer than expected, but the Patriots offense eventually got going and that was the difference in the game.

With the game knotted at 17 going into the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored two touchdowns to pull past the Packers, 31-17. The go-ahead touchdown -- a James White 1-yard run -- came following a turnover and was set up by a double-pass, Julian Edelman to White. The second was a 55-yard touchdown reception from Josh Gordon.

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers didn't put on a show like many expected, but the credit should go to both defenses for taking two of the best in the game off their game.

Here are 10 quick thoughts on the contest.

1. The game didn't feature as many points as everyone expected going in, but that is a credit to both defenses who played very well for the majority of the game. The Green Bay defense was able to frustrate Brady for a good amount of the contest, but the Patriots quarterback was able to make a few big throws when he needed to, including a huge third-down conversion to Phillip Dorsett in the fourth quarter. For the most part, the Patriots defense did a good job against Rodgers, limiting the big plays and kept him in check.

2. The New England defense deserves a ton of credit -- seven second half points to Rodgers and the Green Bay offense is no joke. For the first time all season, the unit can say it had a good showing against a powerful offense, as Green Bay came in ranked fifth in the entire NFL. The pass rush in particular deserves a great deal of credit for forcing a few poor throws. It also didn't allow Rodgers to make many plays with his legs.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson once again was used as a running back with the Patriots only having two active backs in the game in James White and Kenjon Barner. Patterson finished with 11 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. Josh McDaniels did a nice job of designing plays to get Patterson going before touching the ball with tosses and stretch plays. While he may run straight up, he runs very hard.

4. Josh Gordon had his second 100-yard game as a member of the Patriots, and it still feels like he's still learning the offense. The wide out finished with five catches on 10 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. It's also worth noting he dealt with a finger injury, but didn't miss many plays thanks to the quick work of the training staff. From the press box, it looked like a dislocated finger.

5. White once again was arguably the most valuable player on the field for the Patriots. The running back finished with 12 carries for 31 yards and two touchdowns, while adding six catches on seven targets for 72 yards. It is worth noting he suffered a left leg injury in the first half that forced him to miss some time, but he did return in the second half. It's something to monitor as the Patriots clearly cannot afford to lose him for any extended period of time.

6. Brady finished the game 22-for-35 with 294 yards and a touchdown, while Rodgers was 23-for-43 with 259 yards and two touchdowns. Despite two of the best ever to play the position, the pass of the game was Edelman's 37-yard throw to White, which set up the game-winning touchdown. This gave the Gillette Stadium crowd life and the offense life, as it was struggling for a bit in the middle of the game.

7. The Patriots had a bit of a wrinkle on defense as they moved Trey Flowers to an interior defensive line spot on a good amount of plays, which meant more reps for Deatrich Wise and Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn had a solid game when it came to getting after Rodgers, including a huge sack in the fourth quarter. One play stood out late in the first half when he ran step for step with Rodgers to the sideline and actually forced a fumble that was recovered by Green Bay, but it kept him short of the first-down marker.

8. Adam Butler saw an increase in snaps, which shows his development when it comes to stopping the run. Going into the game, he was more of a situational defensive tackle, but he got a lot of reps on early downs Sunday night. He has a high motor and has really has turned into a solid NFL player after going undrafted a few years ago.

9. The Patriots used a lot of the same personnel on offense since they went up-tempo a lot. Julian Edelman remains the No. 1 receiver, Gordon No. 2 and Chris Hogan No. 3. Dorsett has been phased out to the No. 4 or 5 option and saw very limited snaps. Patterson was used sparingly, but was mostly a running back.

10. Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel each missed the contest after coming in listed as questionable. For Gronkowski, perhaps the team is looking at the big picture and is trying to do what it can to have him as healthy as possible for the stretch run. It would not be a surprise to see him sit next week in Tennessee as that is the game before the bye week. For Michel, he seemed likely to play after speaking Friday in the locker room, but it seems like he needs one more week to recover from his knee injury suffered against the Bears.

The Packers have lost 12 straight games when not forcing a turnover, including the playoffs. The last time they won without forcing a turnover was the 2014 game against the Patriots.

Related: Inside Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers relationship

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