ReFo: Patriots @ Packers, Week 13

Steve Palazzolo breaks down the standouts from the Packers-Patriots Week 13 matchup.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Patriots @ Packers, Week 13

2014-REFO-WK13-NE@GBOne of the most anticipated games of the season did not disappoint as the Green Bay Packers held off a late charge by the New England Patriots to win 26-21. Both teams have run a similar course this season, overcoming disappointing starts to emerge, perhaps, as Super Bowl favorites in their respective conferences.

Green Bay got out to their typical fast start, scoring the first 13 points before the Patriots chipped away to make it 16-14 just before halftime. However, the Packers responded with one of the game’s biggest plays as wide receiver Jordy Nelson ran away from Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty on a slant route for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Packers ahead 23-14 at the half.

They held off one last Patriots attempt late in the fourth quarter as a third-down sack by Mike Daniels and Mike Neal forced a field goal attempt by Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski that missed wide and left the Packers one first down away from victory. As was the case throughout much of the game, QB Aaron Rodgers came through with the big play, a 7-yard completion that sealed the game in a great back-and-forth battle that should set the tone for a fun stretch run in the NFL.

Here’s a look at the key players from the game.

New England Patriots – Performances of Note

Dan Connolly, LG: -6.1

Breakdown: While he had some strong blocks in the running game early on, Connolly had a tough time blocking Packers defensive end Mike Daniels who got the best of him for a sack, hit, and two hurries on the day. Connolly surrendered five “official” pressures on 38 pass attempts.

Signature Plays: Q4 14:25: Connolly is knocked about five yards into the backfield by DT Letroy Guion but RB LaGarrette Blount managed to avoid the mess to gain 13 yards. At Q4 3:25, Connolly and LT Nate Solder surrendered the sack that thwarted New England’s comeback attempt.

Rob Ninkovich, OLB: -4.8

Breakdown: This is a great example where role needs to be taken into context with the grading. Ninkovich, essentially a defensive end by trade, was asked to do a lot on Sunday, and that’s not even including his emergency long-snapping duty. He got caught in coverage on two wheel routes that combined to go for 61 yards and when asked to spy Rodgers, he was beaten to the corner on a scramble for a first down. Perhaps it’s unfair to put Ninkovich in such positions, but Rodgers deserves credit for taking advantage of the favorable matchups.

Signature Plays: Despite a solid +0.5 grade against the run, Ninkovich was caught way out of position on a 14-yard run by RB Eddie Lacy at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter. Beyond that, the two wheel routes stick out, though it should be noted that Rodgers was perfectly on point with both throws.

Jamie Collins, ILB: +2.4

Breakdown: It was another solid all-around effort for Collins who continues to emerge as one of the league’s better linebackers. He graded positively in all three phases of the game while finishing with a team-high eight stops.

Signature Plays: Q3 3:52: Collins bullrushes Lacy into Rodgers who sidesteps the pressure, but Collins recovers to take down a scrambling Rodgers for the sack. Q1 1:53: Collins makes a nifty move to avoid center Corey Linsley’s pull block to stop RB James Starks for a 2-yard gain.

Green Bay Packers – Performances of Note

Aaron Rodgers, QB: +5.0

Breakdown: Another classic game from Rodgers as he made a number of “wow” throws throughout the afternoon. His back-to-back throws late in the first quarter summed it up as he hit WR Davante Adams in stride on an out-and-up for 45 yards then came back the next play with a perfect deep crossing route to TE Richard Rodgers for a 32-yard score. Throw in the two perfectly-thrown wheel routes and some key third down passes – including a drop by Adams that likely would have been a game-sealing touchdown at the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter – and Rodgers showed why he’s the league’s best quarterback.

Signature Stat: Rodgers was 5-for-8 for 171 yards and a touchdown on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air.

Mike Daniels, DE: +3.8

Breakdown: As mentioned, Daniels gave Connolly all he could handle on his way to a sack, two hits, and a hurry on his 34 pass rushes. His +4.2 pass rush grade was his highest of the season and he supplemented it with a solid effort in the running game at +0.4.

Signature Play: Q4 3:25: While Neal was the first to get into the backfield on the drive-ending sack, Daniels did make quick work of Connolly to get in on the action. Q3 15:00: Daniels’ quick pressure not only got to the quarterback, but also forced a holding call on Connolly.

Tramon Williams, CB: +1.6

Breakdown: Here’s a great example of coverage stats and grades meshing to give a picture of a player’s performances. Williams surrendered catches on all nine of his targets, but the passes only totaled 40 yards and only two of the catches went for first downs (Brandon LaFell’s touchdown included).

Williams did a great job of limiting yards after the catch, surrendering only 12 on the nine catches, while five of his surrendered catches were stops. It was an underrated part of the Packers’ defensive effort as Williams took away a factor that normally fuels the Patriots’ offense.

Signature Plays: On back-to-back first quarter plays starting at the 3:23 mark, Williams closed quickly on a Rob Gronkowksi in-route to hold it to 5 yards then came back to hold a Julian Edelman crossing route to 4 yards on 3rrd-and-5 to force a punt. It was a similar effort with 2:21 to go in the third quarter as Williams broke quickly on a LaFell in-route was limited to 4 yards with nothing after the catch.

PFF Game Ball

It should come as no surprise, Aaron Rodgers was the best player on the field and deserving of this week’s game ball.


Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Connor Koppa

    Just FYI, It’s Richard Rodgers, not Robert Rodgers. Figured I’d give you the heads up! Thanks for the awesome recap.

  • Football

    Hmm, Packers are much better than I thought. Kudos to them

  • Chad Lundberg

    Tramon Williams is getting old, to grade a positive pass coverage based on yards after the catch is just flawed, imo. Where’s Casey Hayward, in fact why did TT let Jumal Rolle go???

    • Kevin

      He definitely had his struggles in coverage but allowing a catch isn’t the worst thing in the world when the play results in a defensive stop. Think of the tackle he had on 3rd down on the crossing route. The TD he allowed was pretty bad coverage and I don’t think he deserved his grade but I didn’t see him having a bad day. I mean 4.5 yard per catch with basically no yards after the catch is actually fairly impressive. 100% catch rate is not.

    • Kevin

      I am a bit surprised or in reality very surprised that Hayward isn’t being used more, especially after Shields went down early in the game. I may be biased because I rated Hayward so high coming into the draft, he ended up on the Packers, and he had one of the most impressive rookie seasons I’ve seen from a CB and has carried that performance over to this season.

      IMO he is one of the best slot CB’s in the NFL and deserves more snaps. I understand Hyde is the better tackler, run defender, and probably even pass rusher but as a pure coverage CB its not even close. Hayward is probably one of the best coverage CB’s in the NFL, outside or inside. If he were to be on 31 other teams he would probably be starting. Pats for example would of absolutely loved to have Hayward yesterday.

      I truly hope MM and Capers find a way to get him on the field. He has just simply earned more playing time.

    • mutzki

      Probably because the Packers think more highly of the CBs they already have on the roster.

  • Kevin

    One thing I’m ecstatic about as a Packers fan is the amount of snaps Barrington got against the Pats compared to Hawk. I was telling my wife before the game that I couldn’t handle watching Hawk play so many snaps anymore when he just hasn’t earned those snaps unless you count his health as enough to keep him as a starter his whole career.

    A lot of Packers fans surprisingly believe he is really good. I watch these games and can’t comprehend what they’re saying unless they hear these announcers say good things about him and think it must be true(Why do some announcers talk so good about him?). What I see every Sunday can be seen in the signature stats section for ILB’s. I mean its truly amazing how horrible his stats are compared to any other starting ILB in the NFL. Last time I looked he was by far the worst in run stop % and nearly 5x lower than the #1 rated ILB. For a 230 lb player that ran a 4.5 40 I believe it was, he has horrible range in coverage. The Vikes game proved as much.

    I could go on forever about why I don’t like Hawk as a player but its pointless. IMO he is just not a starter quality player and hasn’t been in years. Every time GB replaces him, the new starter gets hurt. Barnett in ’10, Bishop in ’11, Brad Jones in ’13, Even DJ Smith. Year after year the same thing happens and Hawk ends up the full time starter again.

  • Steve

    As a Patriots fan, I can’t really be too upset with that loss. The Packers made a couple of plays and the Pats didn’t. I’m just hoping that Connolly’s bad day was due to his ankle injury and he can return to form in the next couple of weeks. I don’t have the premium account to see his yearly grades, but he did look much worse yesterday than he has in a while.

    • rogue

      Connolly was just as horrible against the Lions (-6.0). He has allowed five hits on Brady the last two games. He needs to be benched.

  • SeattleSteve

    McCarthy doesn’t get a lot of credit, but his last two games against Bill, he’s looked like a guy that won the battle of schemes.

    Almost beating the Pats in New England with Flynn and figuring out a way to pick apart a pretty good Patriot defense…

    • Connor Koppa

      Last time we played NE and went toe-to-toe with them, we won a SB. Doubt that has any bearing on this year, but I think it shows that when we play up to the best competition in the league, we can be the best in the league.

      • rogue

        That’s the year the Pats lost at home to Mark Sanchez and the Jets in the divisional round. An inexcusable and unforgivable loss.

  • Richard

    Keep watch of my 100 QB Super Bowl performance countdown on Both of these QB’s will appear at some point.

  • rogue

    The Packers were good, but the Pats game plan sucked. They didn’t even try to run the ball – 1 carry for Gray, 10 for Blount. McDaniels still thinks it’s 2007. Brady was good in the game, but not elite. He can’t carry the team anymore. The Pats D gets too much blame in recent losses. They held Rodgers, an truly elite QB, to 2 TDs and only 3 2nd half points. Sure there were anecdotal plays, but no defense is perfect and GB’s offense is one of the best in the NFL. The truth is the NE offense and Brady are overrated. Josh McDaniels is a terrible OC, and GM Bill could have done a better job upgrading the interior O-line. Connolly has been terrible for years (based on PFF grades) yet Bill has settled on him and it cost the team at GB. Logan Ryan was picked on and he made Adams look like Fitzgerald. Ryan can’t cover. I’ve noticed that since his rookie season. A waste of a 3rd round pick.

    • Brian Dugan

      Every time you say “elite” a kitten dies.