The Green Bay Packers (www.packers.com) made a case for the defense on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field. The NFC North leaders (9-3) made crucial stops in the fourth quarter and bested the mighty New England Patriots (www.patriots.com), 26-21, in Week 13 in the NFL.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the now-9-3 Pats.
What was billed as a Super Bowl preview certainly lived up to the hype.
But it more resembled an old-time heavyweight prize fight.
Neither of these two high-octane, high scoring teams lit the place on fire.
But again, you have to credit the defenses for making each side earn its keep.
Another factor in this contest was the disparity in time of possession.
The Packers held the ball for more than 12 minutes longer than did head coach Bill Belichick’s crew.
And in the much ballyhooed battle of the the No. 12s, GB QB Aaron Rodgers had the better looking line score in this one than did Tom Brady.
A-Rod was 24 of 68 for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He added 22 rushing yards for a quarterback rating of 112.6.
Brady went 22 for 35, 245 yards and two scores and a respectable 100.7 rating.
The Packers took a little time to get untracked. Head coach Mike McCarthy was quite content to establish the run.
Which the Packers did behind Eddie Lacy. Was kept out of the end zone this week, but his 21 carries netted 98 tough, punishing yards again allowing to Packers to close this one out with an almost six minute drive for the last of four Mason Crosby field goals.
Patriot cornerback extraordinaire Darrelle Revis was sticking like Krazy Glue to number one target Jordy Nelson. That meant Rodgers had to turn his attention to rookies Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers.
Adams made key catches including a couple in traffic. While he dropped a sure TD pass later in the game, he solidified his hold as the number three receiver.
Green Bay’s first two trips to the red zone ended with Crosby three-pointers.
With just eight seconds left in the first quarter, however, Rodgers the QB pumped right and then threw left to Rodgers the TE.
The touchdown gave the Pack a 13-0 lead after one quarter of play.
This is a formidable and disciplined team that Belichick reigns over. They had won seven straight for a reason.
They took just a shade over two minutes to replace that goose egg.
Brandon Bolden got the call and delivered a six-yard run for a score with 12:59 left in the half.
A third Crosby field goal made it 16-7 in favor of the Packers.
Brady charged right back and with the help of an untimely and questionable illegal use of the hands penalty, put together a scoring drive.
Brandon LaFell took a two-yard missive from Brady to make it 16-14 with 1:09 left.
Nelson finally shook free of his coverage for a long gainer and then racked up a ton of tundra after the catch kissing the pylon for a 45-yard touch with 14 ticks ‘til intermission. The Pack led 23-14 at the break.
After stopping New England to start the third, the Packers got things going before stalling again inside the 20.
Crosby missed for only the third time this season with 9:39 left in the third quarter and the stanza ended with the same score.
The Brady Bunch tightened things up considerably with a crisp, sustained drive culminating in a 15-yard to LaFell for the second time. That narrowed the gap to 23-21 with 13:51 left to play.
The Packers answered with a methodical march of their own, settling for Crosby’s foot to make it 26-21 at the 8:41 mark.
The usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski was wide on his 47-yarder with 2:40 to play.
A big first down pass to Randall Cobb allowed the Packers to run out the clock with another huge win.
The Packers stay at Lambeau Field for a Monday night matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 8. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., CST.
The Dirty Birds have had an up and down season, but are always dangerous with Matty (Ice) Ryan at QB. They defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.