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Patriots vs. Packers: Fan Notes from the Game.

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 26-21 defeat to the Green Bay Packers.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Oh well.

Absolutely zero shame in this loss. The New England Patriots went on the road to play a team that simply doesn't lose at home, and at the end of the day they only lost by five points in a game that really could have gone either way had the ball simply bounced a bit differently. But at the end of the day, the Packers got it done and the Patriots didn't, and that's just the way it is. Really not a big deal when it's all said and done. Time to just put this one behind us and move on to the home stretch.

  • Its nice not to feel any real pressure going into a game - it's a rarity. This was one of those games that most of us had pegged as a loss way back in April, the conference is set up so losing this one doesn't really matter, and Green Bay is an extremely tough place to play. Because of all that, there really weren't any jitters or "oh my God how am I going to live with myself if we lose this one" thoughts racing through my head, which was nice - especially since I'm still feeling the after-effects of Thanksgiving.
  • Other than some early runs, New England did a pretty good job on Eddie Lacy. Unfortunately, they just couldn't account for Rodgers extending the play with his legs, as they were simply unable to contain him in the pocket.
  • That beard makes Aaron Rodgers look like the valet at an expressway Olive Garden. That expressway Olive Gardens don't actually have valets is neither here nor there.
  • Glad that Brandon Browner got his obligatory defensive holding penalty on 3rd down to keep the opposing drive alive out of the way early. He's like one of those boxers or MMA guys that feel like they can't really start fighting until they take a strong hit to the face to wake them up a bit. Browner can't play cornerback until he draws a few penalties.
  • Overall, though, solid day for Revis and Browner. Other than that one long Jordy Nelson catch and run - which ultimately ended up deciding the game - neither Nelson nor Randall Cobb did much damage. Cobb did have the game-sealing conversion late in the game, but that was a perfect throw into double coverage. Can't really fault that.
  • Was not, however, a fan of how little pressure the Patriots got. Giving Rodgers that much time is going to spell disaster more often than not. The good news is that, should these two teams meet again, Chandler Jones and Sealver Siliga will be back in the lineup.
  • Of course Brandon Bolden got the start. Of course he did. And of course he ran the ball pretty well in limited carries. That TD run of his was one of the sweeter plays I have seen in a while.
  • Another positive about losing to Green Bay is that, for the most part, I really like them as a franchise. Steeped in tradition, lot of toughness, and seeing a game at Lambeau in December is on my bucket list.
  • I have heard, however, that Aaron Rodgers is a total douche. I friend of mine went to school with him at Berkeley, and he was apparently the most insufferable guy he had ever met. But I guess when you're on your way to the NFL and are in line to become one of the best quarterbacks of your generation, you're allowed a little jackassery.
  • Man do I wish the Patriots had drafted Ha-Ha Clinton Dix for the jokes alone. And can you imagine if he had actually played during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Talk about a blown (heh) opportunity.
  • On defense, New England played very close to the line all across the board, and it worked for the most part. The only problem was that this may have been the only game I've seen where blanket coverage actually ended up working to New England's detriment. When a quarterback like Rodgers, who is extremely careful with the football and well-known for playing mistake-free football, has plenty of time to throw because the Patriots aren't rushing any extra men, he's consistently able to run for the big yards
  • Dud of the week goes to Logan Ryan who got absolutely lit up yesterday. Lit up like all of the Christmas decorations we're starting to see on every block. In a gameplan where you force your opponent to beat you with the third option, it's important that said option isn't running as wild as the Gronkowski brothers on a spring break panty raid.
  • Look at Hoo-man finally getting involved in the offense! With a toe-tap catch to boot.
  • I can't even imagine what it would feel like to run face-first into a 250 lb linebacker while wearing short sleeves in Green Bay, Wisconsin in late November. The closest personaly experience I have is that time when I was 10 and I accidentally bumped sleds with Greg Barry going down the hill behind the elementary school and hurt my hand.
  • The Christmas commercials and specials are now in full swing, and my new favorite features Skeletor as the new spokesman for Honda. Not sure how many of you are in that sweet spot where you were simultaneously young enough to play with Masters of the Universe figures and old enough to think about purchasing a Honda, but those of you that are know the sheer, sheer joy of receiving the Castle Greyskull action set on Christmas morning.
  • One thing that Green Bay did exceptionally well yesterday that gave me nightmares about years past: big gain plays on third down that completely exposed New England's coverage. It seems that every time they faced a 3rd and 4 or 3rd and 3, they picked up 20+. Hints of 2011 all over again.
  • This is not a defense that lives and dies off of turnovers the way it has been in the past - but it is a defense that thrives off them. But when you're up against a QB who simply doesn't turn the ball over, there isn't much you can do.
  • Are the refs getting worse by the week, or is it just me? That isn't even a comment on the New England game, either; I watched at least part of most of the games yesterday, and it just seems like with each passing Sunday these referees are making more and more horrible calls.
  • I'd like to think that yesterday represented a change in LeGarrette Blount as a horrible short yardage back, but I'm going to need a larger sample size.
  • Whoever that guy was who was seated near the announcer's booth and wouldn't stop whistling on every single New England third down - my hat goes off to you, good sir. THAT'S how to be annoying. Well done.
  • Man I wish Gronk had scored on that play towards the end of the first half where he bowled over four or five Packers before going down at the 1. It would have been even sweeter if had succeeded in pulling his pants down and he had to waddle into the end zone.
  • And why do I feel 100% certain that, had the Green Bay defender been a college co-ed for whatever reason, those pants would have dropped immediately?
  • Rob Ninkovich in coverage is nobody's fault but the coaching staff's.
  • Mediocre day from Brady and the offense yesterday, and Brady knows it, too. In a game like this one, where you pretty much have to be perfect in order to come out with a win, Brady wasn't. He threw a few into the ground. He missed some open guys on 3rd down. He forced a few in there. And yet despite all that, New England was still in it with two minutes to go. That bodes very, very well for any game played on neutral ground.
  • Very surprised by the lack of halftime adjustments from New England choosing not to pressure Rodgers more as well as not bothering to set the edge in order to avoid the scramble. Obviously much easier said than done, but you figure there would at least be some type of adjustment.
  • Hightower and Collins are definitely in the conversation for best linebacker duo in the league right now. Hightower has really come into his own and is playing out of his mind, and Collins, while inconsistent, is making strides every single game.
  • So what's preventing a receiver from just running into a defender on every pass play? It happened once to each team with Cobb and Edelman just up and running into a defender who was watching the ball.
  • And along those lines, if you're going to make it next to impossible to play defense in the NFL, maybe there should be a reexamination of five yard penalties that also result in an automatic first down.
  • Don't think that New England committed to the run early, and it came back to bite them late. No help from the playaction.
  • That Stephen Gostkowski shank was written in the history books the day he was born. Just in the cards. Long field goal, following a sack, outdoors at Lambeau...no way. At least when he misses, he misses BIG. None of this barely to the left of the uprights for him, no sir.
  • That Green Bay was going to convert the third and four to ice the game was also more or less written in the cards. Patriots were only able to stop them in the red zone, and that throw to seal it was spot-on perfect. That's what makes Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers.
  • Hey...at least Aaron Dobso saw some time yesterday, eh? Eh?

Not the result we wanted, obviously, but there's a lot to like about yesterday's loss. One or two plays go differently, and it's a whole different ballgame. At no point were the Patriots outclassed, outmatched, or in over their heads. Just one of those games where the Packers did what they had to do to win and the Patriots gave it their best shot. Plus, the Patriots still have a lead in the conference and the inside track on homefield advantage. All in all, that's as close to a great loss as it gets.