We have all heard the NFL films announcer in his deep booming voice introduce Packer games with the words, "Today in this battle of old foes in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field " When you heard these words, you trembled a little because it was a threatening environment with the Lambeau leap and the frigid, Wisconsin air that bites into the bare skin. The storied and classic ball field was the site of champions of past. It is a place where names like Lombardi and Starr are heard frequently. .
The Patriots visited that historic field this Sunday with a game plan. The plan of mixing it up evenly between the running game and passing game while trying to control the clock was on the agenda. The defensive plan was to stop the surging Green Bay Packer offense and the incomparable Brett Favre.
With that game plan in front of them, the Patriots executed flawlessly.
It was Tom Brady's first ever visit to Lambeau and he obviously was not bothered by the awe of the legendary gridiron. Brady threw for a mere 244 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions to eight different receivers. Although it was against a fairly weak secondary of Green Bay, it was an NFL defense nonetheless. From his actions on the field it seemed that number twelve didn't let any pregame nerves or jitters get the best of him. Have they ever?
Now all fans of the boys in silver and blue can stop the questioning of why the team picked up the aging veteran in Vinny Testaverde. There is nothing wrong with Tom Brady except for normal wear and tear.
During the week in preparation for this game, we heard about how the Green Bay defensive line was very strong and will stop the Patriots rushing attack. We heard how they would only have to rely on the passing game because with players like Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila bull rushing and plugging the line. The opposite was true though, the Patriots rushed for over 120 yards with Corey Dillon punching one in the end zone.
The game itself was a well-balanced attack both offensively and defensively.
The Patriots defense gave up a measly 43 yards rushing and just over 100 yards passing while it sacked Green Bay's quarterbacks 4 times on the day as one of those sacks put Brett Favre out of commission due to an elbow injury to his throwing arm. The Patriots defense rushed the passer well, made solid hits and was aggressive even without their secondary leader Rodney Harrison. One play that illustrates the Patriots attack style defense was when Artrell Hawking put a lick on the Green Bay receiver who was clearly past the first down marker dislodging the ball and setting the tone in the first half. The defense was determined to set the tone, and it showed early.
One of the shining stars for the Patriots is the San Diego Charger castoff, wide receiver Reche Caldwell. He has slowly developed the type of chemistry that Brady had with Deion Branch last year. Caldwell is Brady's new 'go-to' guy. He had over 70 yards receiving with one a 54-yard bomb from Brady for the touchdown. With these Brady and Calwell starting to click a little more each week, I think you will see more good things to come from of this tandem.
Earlier during the week, I visited a Patriots website to see the "keys to victory" against the Green Bay Packers and to sum it all up it went something like this:
- Attack with the passing game - Done. With a sense of ease actually.
- Regain the swagger - I don't know about you but I think 35-0 is a good start
- Pressure Favre - With 4 sacks on the day and the front four right in his face, I would say this mission accomplished
- Play tough in the secondary - As stated before these guys were all over the field causing havoc and chaos. Surprising, especially without Rodney back there. One of the keys to this happening was the coverage on their number one guy, Donald Driver. Bill Belichick explained their approach to Driver after the game, "We doubled him almost the whole game. There were plays out there where we didn't double him and when we didn't we should have. He's a great player. But I thought Troy [Brown], there were a few plays where he didn't have help [as a cornerback], and I thought he was very competitive against him. We have all the respect in the world for Driver." Mission accomplished.
- Be consistent on offensive line - To hold one of the league leading teams in the sack department to two of them and fairly good protection for Brady, I think this was another improved area even though they are hobbling with injuries
Side note: This was Green Bay's worst shutout loss since 1970 to the Lions 40-0.
This victory also brings the Patriots road record this year to 5-0.
The performance can be best summed up by the normally tight-lipped Patriots' coach who doesn't throw out 'kudos' often in his post game comments.
"Well, that was a good win for our football team today," Bill Belichick said. "I thought they really stepped up and made plays in all three phases of the game. We did a nice job on special teams, covering, had a big return there from Kevin, and offensively, we were able to have a fairly balanced attack and convert some key situations and play fairly well on defense, convert some third downs, got off the field, which we need to do. We played competitively in the running game against a very talented and skilled offensive group."
Overall, this game was a great motivator for not only the team and coaches, but for the fans as well. This was a great confidence booster for the team before a game against the stingy defense of the Chicago Bears next week on the newly sodded Gillette stadium. If the Patriots play half as well as they did Sunday and they can protect the golden boy Brady, the team should be able to give one of the favorites of the NFC a run for their money.
Shane is a lifelong Patriots fan who grew up in Worcester, MA. He showed his Patriots spirit representing his home team all over the world while in the military and attending games regularly through the years. He now resides in Bangor, ME where he roots for them from afar.