Packers Impressive In Beating Patriots

In a 22-11 victory in the preseason opener, Green Bay's quarterback play was excellent and its defense turned in a strong debut at New England.

Photo by David Butler II/USA TODAY

Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien outplayed Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo as the Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots 22-11 in the preseason opener for both teams on Thursday night.

Rodgers completed 11-of-19 passes for 117 yards. His three possessions netted only three points but he got the Packers inside the 10-yard line twice on the strength of 14- and 15-play drives. In his one quarter of work, Green Bay gained 161 yards against the defending Super Bowl champions

“It feels good. I think it was a good outing for us tonight,” Rodgers said. “We moved the ball pretty well, had a lot of reps, got our conditioning in. Stuff to work on, of course, but it was a good start for us.”

Tolzien completed 10-of-16 passes for 107 yards. Tolzien led four possessions, two of which ended in the end zone. Rookie quarterback Brett Hundley also led a touchdown drive.

Outside of allowing a 55-yard touchdown run by Jonas Gray, Green Bay’s defense was excellent. New England was limited to just 211 yards and the Packers piled up seven sacks.

The Packers trailed 8-3 when Tolzien put together the first of his scoring drives. On fourth-and-1 from the Patriots’ 26, Jeff Janis got in front of Logan Ryan immediately and hauled in Tolzien’s deep ball for a touchdown. The two-point play failed, giving Green Bay a 9-8 lead.

The Patriots led 11-9 at halftime and got the ball to start the second half. But not for long, as undrafted corner Ladarius Gunter tipped away Garoppolo’s pass for Josh Boyce, grabbed the interception and returned the ball 28 yards to the Patriots’ 29. One play later, rookie running back Alonzo Harris found clear sailing around left end for a 25-yard touchdown that put the Packers in front for good at 15-11.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Packers put the game away when Hundley found rookie running back John Crockett in the flat for a 10-yard touchdown.

Green Bay piled up 406 yards. One of the few blemishes offensively was a pair of fourth-down failures with Rodgers running the show. The first was on fourth-and-goal from the 2, with a scrambling Rodgers throwing incomplete to Eddie Lacy in the end zone. On the second, James Starks was stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots’ 34.

“Those decisions are made before the game,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Going for it on fourth down, two-point plays, it’s really the opportunity when you’re in those situations to take advantage of them and the opportunity to work them and compete against the Patriots. I don’t think I’ll be going for it on fourth down six times a game or however many times we did it today. It was really just taking advantage of the opportunity.”

A day after appearing before a federal judge hearing the appeal of his "Deflategate" suspension, Brady played just two series — a three-and-out and a four-and-out.

Garoppolo, who would fill in for Brady if any part of the Super Bowl MVP's four-game suspension is upheld, played three quarters plus one play. He went 20 for 30 for 159 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and was sacked seven times.

“We’ve got a lot of depth on this team,” Tolzien said. “Makes it fun in these preseason games knowing that it doesn’t matter who’s in there, everyone can play. Makes it fun for all of us.”

Bill Huber is publisher of and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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