Being an NFL fan in the UK can be a tough gig. The best match up of the week is often served up to satisfy the American prime time audience (how selfish!) but fear not, the All32 present you the game review ahead of time so you can sleep soundly fully aware of what has happened in the big game. Lets see what may has happened this evening.
Sunday Night Football – Packers @ Patriots
Aaron Rodgers vs the GOAT delivers a high scoring affair in Foxborough that keeps the Pack alive in the playoff mix.
Tom Brady may have 5 rings, he may well go down as the most successful ever, but on this night in the battle of number 12’s, Aaron Rodgers proved once again he is the best in the business today. The win keeps the Packers scrapping for NFC North divisional honours and the Patriots 5 game winning streak brought to a halt.
The knee injury that has plagued Rodgers for most of the season appears to be healing as we reach the business end of the season and he is doing what all good quarterbacks do, getting everyone else around him to look better. For the most part his number 1 target Devante Adams was kept in check, but the double barrelled pairing of Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had big days with both finding pay dirt on a combined 267 yards receiving. With just 2 backs to split carries between after the departure of Ty Montgomery last week, Aaron Jones compiled a nice day averaging over 4 yards a carry on 73 yards rushing including a big touchdown run just before half time to give the Packers a lead they ultimately would not lose as a 17-14 half time lead would be converted into a 37-31 victory.
Tom Brady played his part in this slugfest connecting with Rob Gronkowski for a pair of scores, but the Josh Gordon experiment continues to disappoint with the troubled wide receiver being held catch less. It was thought that the return of Julian Edleman would lead to things opening up for the Patriots passing game but the swarming Packers D, which have looked like an improving unit all year under Mike Pettine, broke up several passes whilst playing tight man coverage with rookie Jaire Alexander particularly impressive. Clay Matthews still appears to be taking a cautious approach to sacking the QB after costly penalties earlier in the year. Here he had 2 opportunities to take Brady down, but the less than nimble QB managed to keep both of those plays alive by finding his best friend James White out of the backfield. White continues to put up ridiculous PPR points in fantasy formats with another 10 reception game out of the backfield.
A mixed night for the special teams units for both squads. Mason Crosby could not kick a field goal to save his life against the Lions just 4 short weeks ago, but here in unfavorable conditions, he nailed all 3 of his attempts on the night including 2 from beyond 50. A missed PAT from Stephen Gostkowski could have been costly but a successful Sony Michel plunge on a later 2 point try effectively wiped out that miss and Gostkowski later nailed his only field goal try of the night from 47 yards away. Cordarrelle Patterson continues to provide more spark in the return game than he ever has as a receiver but a costly muffed punt return provided the Packers with a key turnover late in the 3rd when the Patriots were threatening to take the lead. After last weeks fumbling issues of their own the Packers ended the game with zero return yards with every punt being fair caught and every kick off leading to a touchback; lesson learned – trust Rodgers more than your return game.
It is such a shame that we have not been able to witness more duels between Brady and Rodgers down the years as both are masters of their craft and the NFL will be a poorer place without them, but on this night we should all be grateful at witnessing the greatness that they both provide week in and week out.
Final Score – Packers 37 – 31 Patriots
Leading Rushers – Aaron Jones (Packers) – 73 yards
Leading Receiver – Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – 163 yards
Offensive Player of the Game (Non QB) – Equanimeous St. Brown – 8 catches, 144 yards, 1 touchdown
Defensive Player of the Game – Jaire Alexander – Allowed only 2 completions from 11 targets thrown his way for 16 total yards
Game MVP – Aaron Rodgers (Packers) – 31/35, 413 yards, 3 TD’s
So there you have it. Don’t believe me? Either get yourself plenty of coffee ready for an early Monday morning live experience or set your Sky box to record the highlights. What are your thoughts on the big game? Be sure to join the debate below……
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