GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In an afternoon of mistakes, turnovers, and wild twists, it was an old reliable face triggering the postgame fireworks as the Packers gutted out a 27-24 win over the Patriots.
Green Bay racked up 199 rushing yards, the defense forced a key three-and-out in overtime, and Mason Crosby kicked the game-winning, 30-yard field goal at the final horn of the extra period, giving the Packers a hard-fought win over their undermanned visitors.
The Green and Gold have now won three straight games to improve to 3-1 on the season, tied with Minnesota atop the NFC North.
For the fourth straight game, a Packers opponent had no problem getting into the early script. The Patriots drove 56 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a 37-yard field goal by Nick Folk. Green Bay has allowed 20 points on opponents’ opening possessions this season.
As perhaps a sign of things to come, Green Bay’s second offensive play became a turnover. Aaron Rodgers hit rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs on a low screen pass before Jack Jones stripped the ball and recovered the fumble.
The teams traded punts before the Packers started to settle into the run game. Aaron Jones carried four times for 32 yards before rookie Christian Watson sprinted past the defense on an end-around. The ensuing 15-yard touchdown was Watson’s first score as a Packer, and his first Lambeau Leap.
From there, however, the Packers offense turned lethargic. A quick three-and-out preceded another short drive before Rodgers threw a pick six to Jack Jones, the New England defender’s second forced turnover of the game and a deflating moment for the Green & Gold with 13 seconds left in the first half.
Rodgers finished the first half 4-for-11 for 44 yards an an interception, with his 11.2 rating marking his lowest for a half in his career.
The Packers’ opening drive of the third quarter started just as wobbly, but a third down prayer from Rodgers was answered by Allen Lazard, diving to snag a 32-yard pass and get the Packers moving toward midfield. Green Bay ran the ball six times the remainder of the drive before Rodgers hit Robert Tonyan for a 20-yard score, Tonyan’s first of the season after returning from ACL surgery.
The Pack looked to seize momentum with the touchdown, but third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe – in for the injured Brian Hoyer after the veteran went down with a head injury – engineered a seven-play, 75-yard drive to reclaim the lead at 17-14. Zappe tossed his first career touchdown pass to cap the drive, with the rookie hitting DeVante Parker for the 25-yard score.
The third-quarter seesaw continued on the following possession, with Green Bay driving down the field and capping a 59-yard drive with a Mason Crosby field goal.
But with the game tied at 17 to start the fourth, New England settled into a dominant run game. On a seven-play drive that took less than four minutes to execute, the Patriots ran it six times, capping the march with a five-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris to take a 24-17 lead.
Needing a response in the worst way, Rodgers executed his best drive of the afternoon. On third and 6, the two-time reigning MVP hit Randall Cobb for 24 yards to midfield, and followed that with an 11-yard strike to AJ Dillon just two plays later.
Facing another third down in the red zone, Rodgers lofted a jump ball to his rookie wide receiver, Romeo Doubs. The fourth round pick adjusted his body and came back to high point the pass, leaping over Jonathan Jones to snag the game-tying touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Jarran Reed and Rashan Gary combined for a monstrous sack of Zappe on second down, forcing the Patriots into a three-and-out and getting the ball back to the offense with 3:50 remaining.
Green Bay took a shot to end zone on third and 10, but Rodgers’ 40-yard strike to Doubs was ruled incomplete after the rookie couldn’t maintain control of the ball after hitting the ground. In shades of the infamous Dez Bryant play, the Packers challenged the call, but the ruling on the field was upheld.
Pat O’Donnell’s punt pinned the Patriots at their own two-yard line, and the Packers forced a three-and-out with 14 seconds remaining on the clock. (New England ran the ball all three plays, but because Green Bay had used two timeouts on earlier possessions, the Packers only had one chance to stop the clock.)
With four seconds to work with, Rodgers checked down to Cobb to beat the blitz. When Cobb was met by defenders, he tried to lateral the ball backward behind his head, and Elgton Jenkins fell on the loose ball to prevent disaster and send the game to overtime.
Green Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive in the extra period, but just like much of the game, the offense came out disjointed on the drive. The Packers went three-and-out and punted it away, but a strong Patriots return put the ball at midfield to start the drive.
However, the Pack defense forced a three-and-out of their own, giving the ball back to Rodgers and the offense with 6:47 remaining in overtime.
Starting on their own 10-yard line, the Packers converted chunk passing plays to Lazard and Cobb to march into New England territory. Rodgers hit Doubs on a pair of consecutive screen passes to get inside the 30 with under three minutes to play in the extra period.
On the next three plays, AJ Dillon helped force the issue, running up the gut three times to get the Packers inside New England’s 15-yard line. One more Dillon plunge to the right hash set up Crosby for the game-winner from 30-yards out, and the veteran split the uprights at the overtime horn.
The Packers return to action next Sunday in London, taking on the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.