That’s the way it should be.Â The Patriots’ 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers surely hurts the team and their fans, but this isn’t the time to panic.
If the Patriots were going to lose a game before the end of the season, this is the one they were going to drop. The now 9-3 Packers were nearly as hot as the 9-3 Patriots headed into Sunday night, and they were playing inside the friendly confines of their own historic stadium — Lambeau Field.
The Patriots actually played pretty well against the Packers, all things considered. Their defense let up a ton of yards, but they made key red-zone stands, forcing four field goals. The offense didn’t play quite as well, but it also was obvious that they weren’t able to get on a roll or play with any consistency. The Patriots have proven they can move the ball on better defenses than Green Bay’s, and if this game was in a neutral stadium — as it would be if they met again in the Super Bowl in Arizona — or even on a different day, the results easily could have been different.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full with them, that’s a great football team,” cornerback Brandon Browner said. “They lead their division for a reason. It was important — we just couldn’t get off on third down.”
The Packers converted 10 of 17 third down attempts, while the Patriots were successful on just four of 10 third down chances. That helped Green Bay hold the ball for 36:35, whileÂ New EnglandÂ held it for just 23:25.
I tweeted Saturday that no matter the outcome, Patriots fans shouldn’t be upset with how this game plays out, and the most important takeaway is that New EnglandÂ could have won this game, even down to the final minutes. They weren’t embarrassed like they were against the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the season, and they played much better than they did in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.
“We definitely feel like we left a lot of plays out there, especially in the second half,” wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who had two touchdown catches, said. “We had the ball a few times, we got the ball at the beginning of the half after scoring before the half, and we thought we’d keep things rolling like we usually do and we didn’t do anything with it.”
Perhaps what’s most telling about this loss is that the key play was given up by the Patriots’ best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, onÂ just the second touchdown he’s allowed all season. Jordy Nelson beat Revis on a 45-yard touchdown to end the half, and Revis admitted there was a slight pushoff from the Packers’ receiver.
“We really felt that we had a great game plan, and we had these guys figured out,” Revis said. “When you’re playing against great teams, it’s a game of inches, and that one inch of you being out of place or not being where you need to be can hurt on a play or two. We just have to get back.
“I think we’re fine, but at the same time, we just have to continue to work. There’s always room for improvement, and we’ll learn from this loss and move forward.”
Photo viaÂ Mike Roemer/Associated Press