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Game Review: Rough Day For Green Bay


The Green Bay Packers headed into Sunday's game against New England with momentum from winning three of their last four games and optimism for the rest of the season should they be able to even their record at .500.

But all momentum and optimism, at least temporarily, were squelched by the Patriots in a 35-0 blowout in front of 70,753 fans at Lambeau Field that dropped the Packers to 4-6 with another difficult game awaiting next Monday night at defending NFC champion Seattle.

To make matters worse, the Packers lost quarterback Brett Favre in the second quarter to an elbow injury and his status for next week remains unknown, while backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished the game but was seen limping afterwards and needed treatment in the trainer's room.

It all added up to a very rough day in Green Bay, with things turning the opposite direction most thought after a resounding win at Minnesota just one week ago.

"Last week we took a step forward, and now we took two steps back," said Tony Moll, who made his first start at right tackle in place of an injured Mark Tauscher. "That's how we're feeling right now. We're back in a hole and we have to get out of it."

Adding to the challenge is a quarterback situation very much uncertain as of Sunday night.

Favre was off to a poor start, completing just 5 of 15 passes for 73 yards and missing some of the few openings the Patriots gave him, when he was sacked with 1 minute, 41 seconds left in the second quarter. Outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain grabbed Favre around the legs while inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi hit him in the upper body.

Favre fell on his elbow and Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he hit a nerve or funny bone. He left the game, spent extra time in the locker room at halftime being evaluated, and then returned to the sideline in the third quarter but did not come back into the game. McCarthy said he couldn't find enough strength in his hand to hold the ball.

"I asked him if he was all right and he said, 'Not yet,' which I knew with him, when he says something like that, it's usually pretty significant," center Scott Wells said. "He's a guy that even though it hurts, he comes right back in. For him to sit out, he obviously was in significant pain."

Whether or not Favre's NFL record 231 consecutive starts at quarterback (251 including playoffs) is in jeopardy heading into the Seattle game will be determined later in the week.

As his replacement, Rodgers didn't fare much better, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 32 yards, rushing for 11 of the team's total of 43 on the ground, and getting sacked three times, including on his final snap in the fourth quarter that may have led to the post-game trip to the trainer's room.

In all, the Packers offense was simply shut down, gaining just 120 yards, five first downs, and converting 1 of 13 on third down.

"It takes all 11 on offense to make plays in order for us to do well," veteran fullback William Henderson said. "Today, there were too many mistakes, mentally, physically, just not holding up to the challenges. We will review film, we will look at it, we will analyze it to the fullest to find out what happened today."

The defense had its struggles as well, as the three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady rebounded from their first two-game losing streak in four years and showed why they still set the standard for proficiency and execution.

Brady completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns, compiling a sparkling 128.2 quarterback rating while getting sacked just once and throwing no interceptions.

{sportsad300}Brady seemingly converted every play he needed to, hitting tight end Daniel Graham for a 2-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, receiver Reche Caldwell when he split the Green Bay safeties for an easy 54-yard score just before halftime, tight end Ben Watson with a perfectly placed throw just inside the end zone boundary for an 8-yard TD in the third quarter, and running back Laurence Maroney on a swing pass in the fourth quarter that the rookie turned into a 19-yard score.

"They did a good job moving receivers around, attacking the weakness of the defense no matter what coverage you're in," cornerback Al Harris said. "They did a good job sticking with the game plan and finding the open guy. Whether it's a 5-yard pass or a 54-yard pass, he was finding the guys that were open."

The dominance on both sides led to a nearly 2-to-1 difference in time of possession, with the Patriots holding the ball for 39:10 to 20:50 for the Packers.

"You make one little mistake, they'll make you pay," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "That's what they do. They don't do anything special. They just play well, and they're good."

The kind of good the Packers aspire to be, and they went into Sunday's game looking at the contest as a barometer of where they are in relation to the league's best. The results obviously were disappointing and leave the Packers well aware of how much work lies ahead.

"It was a measuring stick to me," tight end Bubba Franks said. "The teams we beat, they all have losing records. To come up against a team like this, it was a challenge. That's what we expected, and we didn't answer the challenge. Not today."

But that's not to say they won't. Several players in the locker room after the game emphasized that no one is going to give up the fight, just like they didn't when they were 1-4, and just like they didn't after the frustrating giveaway in Buffalo.

"This was a tough loss for us. I didn't really see this coming. But it happened, it's the reality," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "We just have to regroup tomorrow.

"As far as our confidence goes, that's one thing I've always liked about our locker room is we're a resilient group. This will definitely test that and hopefully we'll come out on top."

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