GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers had a huge mismatch in their favor for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. With Patriots starter Mac Jones out with an ankle injury, the quarterbacking matchup was Aaron Rodgers vs. Brian Hoyer. When Hoyer suffered a concussion, the quarterbacking matchup became Rodgers vs. rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe.
The Packers had to rally twice just to get to overtime, then won the game 27-24 on Mason Crosby’s 31-yard field goal.
“They’re not always pretty wins, and I’m OK with that,” coach Matt LaFleur said.
On the winning drive, Allen Lazard got things going with a 22-yard catch, and Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for 11 to convert a third-and-1. Two quick passes to Romeo Doubs picked up a total of 17, and four consecutive runs by AJ Dillon gained 15 yards to set up the winning kick.
In overtime, Green Bay won the toss but went three-and-out. New England took over at its 49 after the punt, close to a shot at a field goal.
“Get 12 back the ball,” was the mindset on defense, said Rashan Gary, who had a quick pressure on a third-down incompletion to give the Packers the ball for the winning drive.
The Packers have won 15 consecutive home games in regular-season play.
The Packers trailed 10-7 at halftime in stunning fashion. With the Packers trying to build on their 7-3, Aaron Rodgers instead threw the fourth pick-six of his career. Jack Jones read the play perfectly and returned the interception 40 yards to give the Patriots a halftime lead.
Rodgers’ 20-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan put the Packers back in front 14-10 but the Patriots scored back-to-back touchdowns – first a 25-yard touchdown to DeVante Parker against busted coverage and then a 5-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris to lead 24-17 with 11:14 remaining.
Green Bay answered with a key touchdown, with Rodgers hitting Romeo Doubs on a 13-yard, back-shoulder strike to tie the game at 24 with 3:50 remaining. Including playoffs, it was the 500th career touchdown pass of Rodgers’ career.
Aaron Jones carried 16 times for 110 yards and Lazard caught six passes for 116 yards. Jarran Reed had a team-high eight tackles and one sack.
Rashan Gary was great. He had two sacks, including a big sack-strip, and set up Jarran Reed for a sack, as well.
For a fleeting moment with 2:02 remaining, it appeared Romeo Doubs had given the Packers the lead and, perhaps, the win. On third-and-6, Aaron Rodgers threw a magnificent deep ball that Doubs caught but lost as he hit the turf. Coach Matt LaFleur’s challenge was more like a Hail Mary; the punt team was on the field throughout the review. Had LaFleur not challenged, the Packers would have had about 50 seconds for a final drive rather than just a few seconds.
“I’m not too proud of that moment. That was an emotional decision,” LaFleur said, ignoring the advice.
After Green Bay went three-and-out to start overtime, the Patriots started at their 49 after a 20-yard punt return by Marcus Jones. They double-teamed Rudy Ford to give Jones plenty of real estate. So, the Patriots needed just one first down to have a chance to get a first down. They couldn’t get it, though. Rashan Gary’s rush and Ford’s coverage created a key third-down stop. The Packers started their next possession at the 10 and drove to the winning score.
“That was huge,” LaFleur said, admitting the circumstances didn’t look good at the moment.
The Green Bay defense struggled to beat a rookie third-string quarterback. The Patriots ran for 167 yards. But on the money downs, the defense was, well, money. It held the Pats to 3-of-11 on third down. On the final three possessions, Green Bay forced three consecutive three-and-out punts.
The Packers will play the New York Giants in London next Sunday. Kickoff is at 8:30 a.m. (Central). Not that it matters, but the Giants lost starting quarterback Daniel Jones to an ankle injury and veteran backup Tyrod Taylor to a concussion. The Giants won, anyway, 20-13, as Saquon Barkley ran for 146 yards. They are a surprising 3-1, as are the Packers.
“There’s a lot to clean up” before the team leaves for London on Thursday, LaFleur said.