After their loss to the Jets a week ago, the Patriots had dropped back-to-back games for the first time in almost four years. They would not lose three consecutive games, however. New England put an end to its unusual losing streak by smacking the Packers 35-0.
Tom Brady shredded a Packers defense ranked last in the NFL against the pass, throwing for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay's weakness all year long has been giving up big plays through the air, and Sunday's game was no different.
"Our pass coverage wasn't very good," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, stating the obvious after the game. "It had nothing to do with communication, it was more coverage issues. I was disappointed in our pass defense as a whole."
The Patriots dominated the Packers in every aspect of the game. Green Bay managed only 120 yards of total offense, had its quarterbacks sacked four times and allowed 357 yards on defense. New England shut out the Packers, marking its first road shutout in 20 years.
While Brady was lighting up the Packers secondary like a Christmas tree, his counterpart, Brett Favre, had a miserable afternoon. The future Hall of Famer looked like the aging quarterback he is by missing wide-open receivers throughout the first half. Favre injured his elbow when Tully Banta-Cain sacked him just before halftime. He had completed just five of 15 passes for 73 yards and didn't return in the second half.
"I thought we did a decent job in the running game and were able to get some pressure on the quarterback," coach Bill Belichick said. "And when we didn't hit him, we pushed the pocket a little bit and made him throw from a collapsing pocket sometimes."
|New England Patriots tight end Daniel Graham (82) catches a touchdown pass in front of Green Bay Packers linebacker Tracy White (59) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)|
Despite playing without three starters in the secondary, the Patriots only allowed Favre and Aaron Rodgers to complete nine passes. Donald Driver -- who was on fire coming into the game -- finished with just two catches for 43 yards. An impressive performance by the defense considering the team's top cornerback, Asante Samuel, didn't even make the trip to Green Bay and was inactive for the game.
"We doubled him almost the whole game," Belichick said about Driver. "There were very few 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."
The Patriots have struggled beating the good teams over the past two seasons, but they've feasted on teams with losing records, going 13-0 against them dating back to last year. They'll get a much tougher test this Sunday when the 9-1 Bears travel to Foxborough. New England is just 2-3 at home this season, so beating a quality team like the Bears would be a good confidence builder for the Patriots heading into the final month of the season.