Why They Won: Green Bay vs. New England
By Kenn Korb
Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Green Bay Packers celebrate after the New England Patriots missed a field goal late in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. The Packers beat the Patriots 26-21. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Last week it was the previously-oft-criticized offensive line that stepped out of the shadows to make themselves known as a key strength of the team.
This week, the statement was made by the defense.
For years, Dom Capers has been heavily criticized by analysts and fans for the lacking production and overall bad play of his unit. This year Green Bay has been healthier than usual on that end, and Capers’ crew has been much better.
This showing was beyond impressive for them, and based on competition was one the best showings on the year.
The Patriots came in as the top scoring offense in the league (over 34 ppg) and have players like Rob Gronkowski/Julian Edelman/Brandon LaFell/etc. led by a still-elite Tom Brady and supplemented by a talented multi-back run game. That’s not easy to stop for even the best teams, but the Green Bay defense did pretty well.
Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Green Bay Packers defensive endMike Neal
(96) and defensive endMike Daniels
(76) during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
In contrast to the Packers’ O-line, the Patriots weren’t able to give Brady a decent amount of time. Don’t let the low sack numbers fool you; all day he was rushed into early throws that missed the mark.
Green Bay forced multiple punts on the day with the Patriots driving down the field. And when it mattered most, they did force their lone sack at the end to force a field goal attempt (subsequently missed).
Even an injury to #1 CB Sam Shields couldn’t fully unseat them (though his replacement, Davon House, was beaten for a TD by LaFell).
Sure there were missed assignments and plays made, but that always happens, especially against a team as strong offensively as New England.
The fact that they were unable to do enough to take the game is indicative of just how good the Capers’-led unit has been of late.