Packers 26, Patriots 21: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Lambeau Field. It had all the makings of an instant classic yesterday afternoon for the Green Bay Packers.

For once, it was a game that lived up to the hype. The Packers beat the Patriots 26-21 that saw Rodgers and Brady trade touchdown passes before a crucial late fourth quarter sack of Brady and a missed field goal ended the game.

The Packers never trailed in the game but thanks to having Brady on the opposing sideline, no lead felt safe. Green Bay uncharacteristically struggled in the red zone, going 0-4 and settling for four Mason Crosby field goals. Normally that wouldn’t be enough against New England but thankfully the Packers defense was finally up to the task against an elite quarterback.

Here is what went right and what did not for the Packers during their win over the Patriots in another edition of Game Balls and Lame Calls.

Game Balls

QB Aaron Rodgers

After the slightest of jitters early in the game, Rodgers calmed down and went blow for blow with Brady and eventually came out on top.

Rodgers finished the day 24/38 for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He took what he could get against a Belichick defense and once of the league’s best secondaries.

Rodgers also firmly seized the lead in the MVP race and left Belichick gushing about his play after the game.

That’s hard to do. Just another day at the office for Mr. Rodgers.

WR Davante Adams

I’m not going to hold his late drop of what likely was the game-sealing touchdown. The rookie from Fresno State had a career day yesterday.

With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner zeroing in on Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Adams became Rodgers’ go to guy as he finished with six catches for 121 yards. With Nelson and Cobb blanketed almost the whole game (Nelson’s touchdown being the exception), it was Adams’ time to shine and he met the moment brilliantly.

He will be sick over the dropped touchdown, but he earned even more trust from Rodgers in this game. He will get plenty of other chances.

Head coach Mike McCarthy

You have to give McCarthy credit. He was up against the ultimate strategist head coach and crafted a brilliant game plan that beat him.

The Packers’ coach is given nowhere near the amount of credit he is due, from both the national media and many Packers fans. He should get plenty from both parties after this game.

McCarthy had the team ready to play and now with wins over the Eagles and Patriots, the whole “the Packers haven’t beaten anybody” argument can finally die.

LB Sam Barrington

The move of Clay Matthews to inside on some plays might have signaled the beginning of the end for A.J. Hawk, but the emergence of Barrington is even more indicative.

The former seventh round draft pick came to play against the Patriots and their vaunted rushing attack. He was instantly on the ball carried and immediately wrapped them up. His speed and fundamentally sound tackling are things Green Bay has been lacking at inside linebacker since the departure of Desmond Bishop.

The position is still one of need for the Packers but they might have one to build around in Barrington.

Lame Calls

CB Tramon Williams

Williams got abused by Brady all game. He was constantly out of place and was also unable to make the tackles he needed to make.

He’s been a much better player this season, but in a game of this magnitude Williams has to be the best cornerback on the field like he was in 2010 alongside Charles Woodson and he wasn’t .


This game was hyped all week and (with the exception of the Wisconsin market) CBS failed to get to Packers/Patriots until there was just over 12 minutes to go in the first quarter. Many non-Wisconsin based Packers fans saw their team in the red zone but had no idea how they got there.

You need to pay the bills CBS. I get that, but don’t do it by screwing over the viewer experience

Ed Hochuli and the officiating crew

This was a strangely called game and it affected both sides.

Adams got away with a major push off on one of his catches but the Patriots got a very late call before that after Julian Edelman begged for a flag and he finally got one….about seven seconds later.

The Patriots also were initially flagged for 12 men on the field before Belichick reminded them how to count.

It was just an embarrassing game overall for the officials.

LB AJ Hawk

As mentioned earlier, the beginning of the end seems to be at hand for Hawk.

He didn’t even start the game with Barrington and Matthews lined up at inside linebacker on the Patriots’ first drive. When he was on the field, he was invisible.

Hawk may be good at calling the plays in the huddle, but he’s not the answer for the Packers at inside linebacker. With Barrington flashing potential, it might be time for the Packers to move on after this season or at least relegate Hawk to the bench.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and


41 thoughts on “Packers 26, Patriots 21: Game Balls and Lame Calls

  1. Kris – your game balls are spot on, especially for MM. He is long overdue the recognition that he deserves. His game plan and play calls had the Pats defense off balance all day. The Packers scored on every first half possession. I would add a game ball for the offensive line. They absolutely stuffed the NE pass rush all game and did a good job blocking in the run game. I don’t think that I have seen a Packer QB with that much time to throw since Bart Starr was playing behind the great Lombardi OL back in the 60s. Jerry Kramer and Forrest Gregg would have been very proud of yesterday’s effort. On defense I think an honorable mention goes to Julius Peppers who knocked down or tipped at least 2 of Brady’s passes that would have been completions. The DL maintained a good pass rush all game. Special Teams had a solid game covering the kick returns. Great solid win against an elite opponent. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  2. Which scene was more fun to watch, the third down conversion to Cobb at the second half two minute warning to seal the game, or watching Tom Brady walking on the sidelines after the play yelling three times “f**k, f**k, f**k!”?

  3. I give MM credit where credit is due. He called a nice game. Seemed like there was something wrong with Bilichick he had that deer in the headlight look. I thought it would be the other way around. This was a great game, hope Sam Shields is good to go next week…

    1. Mike McCarthy is the 2nd best coach by record in present NFL. Only one better than Mike is Bill Belichick. That is all you need to know, and to give the credit to the Mike. DO not forget that he brought Packers to the post season last year without Aaron for 8 games. That tells you everything!

    2. “Nice” game, eh? Those plays to Cobb and Boykin were real “nice” weren’t they? Face it, your hated MM beat your boy BB straight up and blew all your predictions and “analysis” out of the water. Better luck next time.

      1. Belichick is an amazing coach, everyone knows that. I can’t stand him, but u have to admit he is the best. MM got the best of him this time around. I hope he does in the SB too.

  4. Game Balls:
    The O Line. Even though they got to AR 3 times, they pretty much stoned them the rest of the game.

    Lame Calls:
    Red zone offense. Blowing those 4 trips could have easily turned this Monday Funday into a lament over missed chances.

    A good, well-played game between 2 good teams at the top of their game. Agree that MM gained some cred as a coach by beating a great coach. BB’s mistake was not insisting that McDaniels keep feeding the ball to Blount and Gronk – the Packers had no answer for them. Grateful, but still surprised they went away from them.

    1. I think the key stat for the defense is that they held NE to 21 points without the benefit of forcing a TO. I didn’t think they’d be able to do that…but I’m baffled by the lack of commitment to the run shown by NE and wonder what would’ve happened if they fed Gronk the ball more.

      As a second note, the Packer OL was very good, but how often did NE rush more than 4?

      1. NE was playing to its strength – coverage. If you send 5 or 6 at ARod he’s going to toast you.

        Regarding the lack of running – McDaniels is taking lots of heat for not using Blount more and I understand why. Blount is a bull in a china shop and the Packers simply don’t have the big bodies necessary to take him down consistently. However, keep in mind that NE’s ground game was ineffective the entire first half and they were down 13-0 before the end of Q1. Running the ball at 4YPC isn’t going to get you back in the game against a hot ARod.

        If NE had the early lead, I would have expected nothing but the ground and pound…. if we get a rematch I’d bet we’ll see more of it.

        What I was really encouraged by was the return to man pass coverage and Dom (for once since 2010) not over-reacting to facing a great player such as Gronk. Do your thing Dom.

      2. I heard a great observation that the lack of blitz by the Patriots was their respect for Rodgers against the blitz and the screen to Lacy.

        The Packers played a great game and I don’t see this win as a result of the Patriots mistakes or failures. It was excellence in the Packers performance, that was not even the Acme of their abilities.

  5. I really enjoyed seeing our rookies and second year players making major contributions. Adams, great game other than the drop. Barrington, some nice early pops from the inside LB spot. Rodgers with a beautiful catch for a TD. Jones with some good pressure in the middle and a great first step that we need to see more of. Linsley, steady as a rock. Hyde, gave up some catches to Gronk but was right with him. Lacy, still puzzles me when he dances sideways too much or misses holes but can’t argue with his numbers. Dix, like him a lot, just needs to wrap up better. We need these players to continue to develop and play hard. If they do this could be a magical season. GoPack!

  6. One play stood out for me – Gronkowski late in the game scoring a touchdown – but no, Ha Ha Clinton Dix somehow dislodges the ball and then the missed field goal.
    To me that was the perfect coverage assignment. The announcers during and after the game couldn’t stop talking about Revis shutting down Nelson but the Clinton Dix defensive play on a sure TD by Gronk was the play of the game for the Packer’s D.
    The missed field goal was interesting just after this play. The NE kicker missed just right, exactly the same as Mason Crosby missed earlier at the same end of the field. Gostkowski had been 26 for 27 up to that point all season, so maybe Crosby’s 4 field goals were not just gimme’s.
    Interesting Stat:
    Tim Masthay – (1) punt – that’s all.

    1. One of the worst punts that I have seen – 38 yard low, shank. Thank God he wasn’t called upon to kick

  7. One can only dream that it’s the end of the line for Hawk. How’s the ILB pool for next year’s draft looking like? Any CFB fans in here?

    1. There are a few studs. One ILB out of Mississippi state who will be a late first rounder. Perryman out of Miami lacks height but has everything else and he could be a nice second rounder. Also Kendricks out of ucla looks very capable too. This class is much deeper then last but only 1 guy that I can really seeig go first rd

      1. Remember when it was a stud year for Safety, it was one of our big needs and TT drafted none of them? I do. So don’t hold your breath on Draft Day. We’ll be drafting Long Snappers and QB’s.

    2. Anyone will be an upgrade over Hawk. We took Barrington in the 7th round and he has much more potential than Hawk. We need to draft 2 ILB’s, since I doubt Lattimore will be back after flopping as a starter. Next year all we have is Barrington and Bradford, and Bradford is a huge question mark. With that in mind, Hawk prob will stick for another year as long as he takes his heavily reduced snaps well and isn’t a locker room cancer. He will still be grossly overpaid, but a below average backup that will mentor young guys well isn’t the worst thing in the world….. as long as he doesn’t hurt our cap too bad. Maybe another restructure?

      1. He’ll be a great mentor. “Here look at this Rookie… see how I play all tentative and let the play come to me? Yeah don’t do that.”

  8. If NE punches in that late TD (instead of missing the FG) and wins, would Davante Adams still get a game ball?

    1. No. He would be a goat for sure, quite honestly.
      He took advantage of single-coverages, on their worst cover guys.
      I love Davante, but he did what any receiver should do against man-on-man coverage, with no safety help, with the best QB in the world throwing to him.

      That drop was awful. Pass was perfect, there was space there and no safety creaming him.

      So answer to your question is no he wouldn’t deserve a game ball had we lost.

      Love him or hate him, Imagine if we still had the big threat to defenses at the TE position that was Jermichael Finley.

      1. Depends on if he had any catches in the final three minutes, which as we all know is plenty of time for Aaron to move the ball down field and score. Plus we would have only needed a field goal to tie or win.

  9. I don’t think Tramon deserves to be the lame calls list. Yes he got burned on a few plays but he made a few great plays as well. There was a 3rd and seven or so and the Patriot receiver had a crossing route and Tramon was on him immediately and made the solo tackle 2 yards short. There were a few others as well. Brady makes a lot of cornerbacks look bad.

    1. This is the play I was trying to describe.

      On the Patriots’ second possession, Tramon Williams closed extremely fast on a shallow crossing route by Julian Edelman and tackled him a yard short on third and 5.

    2. agreed. I thought Tramon tackled well. Brady is going to find guys open. Every DB is going to give up some catches (even Revis – Jordy 50yd td), the important aspect is to tackle when the catch is made and I thought TW did a good job of that yesterday. GoPack!

    3. I agree on Tramon playing a solid game. He got flagged on a PI call for getting run into by the WR. In the bigger picture, I thought our secondary was a little scrambled at times. Guys didn’t get lined up very well and looked like they were confused per-snap

    4. ProFootball Focus rated Williams favorably for yesterday’s game. He made some key stops and seemingly forced one three and out himself. Let’s review the game film before we criticize him too harshly.

    5. Also agree, thought TWill played well. He was all over Gronk the first time NE went that way. After Gronk caught the next opportunity against Burnett I was hoping TWill would take him all game.

  10. Question on Hawk……when the coaches review the tape on Monday and see him running around in circles and hovering around the pile, do they laugh or say he’s a great communicator. Sure glad TT liked him so much he passed on Borland & took Kyri Thornton. Hope you’re right about the end of the line. He should have crossed it years ago!

    1. Just an FYI, Borland was selected 8 spots before the packers 3rd round pick at 77. I firmly believe Ted would have had a tough call to make had he fallen to their pick at 85. Scheme fit may have played a part in the decision but my gut thinks TT wouldve pulled the trigger.

      1. I’ve been on TT for not trading up to get Borland, but if Barrington and Matthews continue to dominate the middle thus leaving Hawk on the sideline, I’ll forgive his decision.

        Still sucks to see him keeping the 49er’s alive though. I seriously think that had he been taken by another team, the Niners would already be out of the playoffs.

        1. Ive often wondered myself over the last 6 months if Ted tried to make a move specifically to go get him and what it might have cost. He may not be a beast in coverage or ideal measurables but he just has all that stuff you can’t teach to make up for that. Hes “a football player” to use a generic expression. And every team needs a few of those. I wish he was on our squad. But alas, yes, we move forward with what we have. Heres to hoping barrington/lattimore/bradford/next year draft pick can pick up what were lacking in the middle. Hopefully we stay creative with clay regardless though. Its so hard to gameplan when hes moving around. It seems so much more efficient to give him opportunities to make plays all over as opposed to just off one edge. Dang I just wrote a book here. My apologies.

          1. No problem my friend, gotta enjoy Football discussions while they last. There’s only 2 more months left.. sigh.

            1. No doubt. Hopefully in 9 weeks we’ll be having a debate over what kind of talent will fall to us at pick 32.

  11. Of all the things I read in this article, what stood out to me the most was hearing that Hawk’s day may FINALLY be numbered! Love him, or hate him, this is one of the most underwhelming players we have seen, and as he gets older we see more and more of him missing tackles, and allowing big plays.

    IT. IS. TIME!

    Knowing that Sam Barrington is actually starting to show some improvement in his development, that it is likely enough to bench Hawk at last, is as beautiful as having two Christmas’s at once.

  12. I have to agree about Hawk he has lost a step this year and it was a step he could not afford. I know the man has gave his all for this team and he left it on the field but father time catches up to us all and it seems that the time is near for them to move forward with out Hawk. With that said Mathews and Barrington made the inside strong again this game and I could see them becoming the ILB of the future or maybe even put Neal/Perry in there and let Matthews go back to OLB…I know they have Bradford in training for ILB as well so who knows what next year will bring 🙂

    1. I looked at this cap number, dead money and all that. To me it wasn’t worth keeping him around for his last year. Jettison him right after the season so he can try to catch on with another team, keep the work out bonus and the roster bonus and take the cap hit.

  13. Whew. That had to be the most nerve wracking game I can remember.
    Wanted them to win for so many reasons. So many pivotal moments in the
    game and for the organization, This team is better than ever. Adams
    arrived, and Cobb’s price went way up. But who cares Go Pack Go

  14. Hawk won’t be on the 2015 roster if he is a reserve. He is too expensive and reserve slots on the roster should be reserved for developing, up and coming players – not veterans in decline (like Kuhn or Donald Driver his last 2 years).

    The offensive line was terrific. They don’t do the flashy things, but IMO it was the reason the Packers looked so good on offense (except in the red zone).

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