Pats Back on Track after 35-0 Win
Despite the absence of several key members of the defensive backfield and lingering injuries along the D line, the New England Patriots defense smothered the Green Bay Packers, and Pats notched their first shutout of the season, 35-0.
Tom Brady threw for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns, all to different receivers, as New England outgained the Packers, 366-148.
As well as the offense played, the defense was the story, as the squad completely refused Green Bay access to the red zone, including a drive the Packers started on New England's 30-yard line following a muffed handoff between Brady and Corey Dillon. That stand, as much as anything, led to the Pats' 21-0 halftime lead.
The Pats defense imposed its will on the Pack, forcing Green Bay into five 3-and-outs and allowing only one first down on two other drives, all in the first half alone. That performance led to New England dominating time of possession, 20:03 to 9:57 in the half (39:10 to 20:50 for the game).
New England Patriots defensive end Ty Warren was stellar in
his return to action Sunday. He's presence helped the defense
pitch a shutout at Lambeau Field, a 35-0 win against Green Bay.
The defensive front seven were phenomenal. The defensive secondary making a majority of the team's tackles is a sign of weak work "in the trenches." New England's d-backs were virtually invisible Sunday. Six of the leading Patriots tacklers were linemen or linebackers, and the latter held the top three spots.
Tedy Bruschi led with 5 solo tackles, 3 assists and half a sack, while Mike Vrabel added 6 tackles (5 solo), 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Rosevelt Colvin was in the mix all day, too, with 4 solo tackles and lots of pressure on Packers quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
Defensive end Ty Warren was huge in his return. He registered a sack and a half and 3 tackles, as the defensive line was miles improved over the last two weeks. Bookend Richard Seymour had 4 tackles (3 solo) with Warren back on patrol, and Vince Wilfork added a pair of solo tackles.
The Patriots offensive line was tremendous Sunday. New England
quarterback Tom Brady was rarely under pressure and passed
at will against an overmatched Green Bay secondary.
Favre had absolutely nowhere to throw the ball, but Green Bay had even less place to run. The Packers gained a scant 4 yards -- four -- on just seven carries. Farve was injured a few plays before the end of the half. By then, he was just 5 of 15 for 73 yards. While color analyst Dan Deirdorf said Favre had made several bad throws, the truth is, the Patriots reprisal of the patchwork secondary did a great job covering Green Bay's receivers, and Farve could not have done much more than he did.
In addition to Brady, who finished 20 of 31, while connecting with 8 different receivers, running back Laurence Maroney had a great game on the offensive side. He carried 19 times for 82 yards (4.3 avg) and 4 receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. Corey Dillon had 31 hard-fought yards on 12 carries (a long of 4 yards) and a touchdown. Dillon was injured early in the second quarter on his touchdown run, but returned early in the third.
In addition to evading Charles Woodson here, Pats running
back Laurence Maroney faked Packers linebacker Nick
Barnett out of his shoes on his way to a 19-yard TD.
Had New England played that way the two weeks before, they may be sporting better than a 7-3 record.
The tale of the game can be told entirely in the statistics.
New England ran 73 offensive plays to Green Bay's 48 -- and 10 (more than 20 percent) of those were punts. If you thought the Patriots defensive tackling numbers were low, that's why. Green Bay garnered just 5 first down, converted a pathetically dismal 1 of 13 third downs, and were 0-for-1 on fourth. Meanwhile, New England had 22 first downs, a modest 8 of 17 on 3rd-down conversions, and 2-for-2 on fourths. The Pats were 4-for-4 in the red zone.
One of the few statistics that was close was turnovers. Each team forced one. New England fumbled four times, but lost just one of them. The defenses lack of turnovers, which has been a problem of late, can be attributed this time to Green Bay's lack of offensive plays.
The Patriots are tops in the league in fourth-down conversions and in attempts. New England is 13 of 16 (81.2 pct). Houston is second at 7 of 9, and Minnesota has attempted 15.
Vrabel had his first incomplete pass of his career.
The Patriots now have a two-game lead in the AFC East over the New York Jets, who lost 10-0 against Chicago. New England remains the No. 4 seed in the AFC behind Indianapolis (9-1), San Diego (8-2), and Baltimore (8-2). While technically behind Dener (7-3) because of the head-to-head loss and a worse conference record, New England will maintain the No. 4 seed as a division winner, should they stay ahead of the Jets.