Brady vs. Rodgers. Two future hall of famers went head to head in Week 9 and the action did not disappoint. The Patriots took the predicted victory with a final score of 31-17. While the final score shows a dominant offense and strong defensive presence, the game was full of highs and lows for both teams.
No player better demonstrated the saying “no pain, no gain” than Josh Gordon. Gordon left the game two separate times and re-entered shortly after. The wide receiver dislocated one of his fingers during the game, only to pop it back into place before returning. Catching the Packers defense off guard, he finished the game with 5 catches for 130 yards (long of 55) and 1 touchdown. Gordon’s touchdown iced the game for New England. With 7:20 left in the fourth quarter, he caught a pass mistakenly intended for Edelman, then ran the distance to the goal. Gordon brings a deep threat that any defense will have trouble covering.
Stephon Gilmore had his best game yet this season against the Packers. He was everywhere. During Green Bay’s first drive of the game, they marched downfield, prepared for a touchdown. Gilmore broke up a touchdown pass and forced third and goal. The result: a field goal and bad start for the Packers offense. Later in the game, the cornerback was able to break up two back to back passes intended for wide receiver Devante Adams. In fact, Gilmore held Adams to 6 of 9 receptions for 40 yards. Gilmore has come a long way and shows a strong presence in the secondary unit.
The “Big Back” played another outstanding game. Cordarrelle Patterson began the game in the backfield with a 35 yard kick return. From there it only got better. Patterson dominated New England’s fifth drive of the game. He had 5 carries for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. The highlight play from his drive shows how powerful he is. Patterson ran the ball as a defender grabbed him from behind. He kept running when the Packer grabbed his shirt and didn’t let go. Patterson dragged the defender holding his shirt for a first down. Words cannot describe how hilarious that play was. Patterson is the universal player the Patriots have always needed.
Lack of pressure was the defensive line’s primary problem. Rodgers is an incredible quarterback, but any player can easily lose focus/confidence when under constant pressure. Numerous plays could have resulted in easy sacks had the line been stronger and more willing to use force. The Packers had a 46% third down efficiency and the basis for this goes back to how much time Green Bay had to convert. Teams like the Packers use time to their advantage; the Patriots have to adjust in order to make themselves more lethal.
Green Bay’s defense was more threatening than the Patriots’. While both defensive units had the same number of tackles, their sacks were more aggressive. The reason behind the Packer’s bold defense was a weak offensive line. Brady was sacked 2 times for 21 yards and 3 quarterback hits. He was forced to throw the ball away on dozens of other plays all because the offensive line couldn’t protect him. The line has, for the most part, improved this season. Hopefully this game was merely an anomaly.
Nine hundred and ninety nine. That’s how many career rushing yards Tom Brady has after his debut on Sunday. The quarterback fell just one yard short of reaching one thousand rushing yards. As upsetting as this is, Brady’s inconsistent passing during the game was also depressing. Brady finished the game with 22 of 35 completed passes for 294 yards and 1 touchdown. While the offensive line forced him to throw away passes, he also made a lot of bad ones on his own. He can still be seen passing behind the receiver or too far over his head. These inconsistent passes collectively suppressed potential break through plays for the offense. Luckily, these didn’t change the course of the game.
Tom Brady and his Patriots move on to Tennessee where they will face the Titans on Sunday. While many things went nicely in New England’s favor, new challenges present themselves. Each unit has techniques to improve on, and Brady still has one rushing yard to complete.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen