The Packers were able to contain the high scoring Patriots offense to just 21 points and just 320 total yards. So what did their defense do that was able to keep the Patriots out of the scoreboard?

Well, in a short answer they contained the Patriots receivers and were not willing to give up the big play. They were willing to get physical with them and let the Patriots run the ball, let them catch the ball short then swarm and tackle. But they were not going to give up any big plays. As much as the Patriots contained the Packers, the Patriots also contained themselves a lot. They just didn't capitalize on formations that the Packers were misplaying and who knows maybe they did not want to show their hand in adjustments incase of a rematch, but it would have been nice to see them try to exploit some of the weakness in the formations that they were showing them.

This is the best play that the Patriots have in their offense, when a cornerback is backed off of Brandon LaFell, you can bet 100% that it is going to be a deep slant behind the linebackers and in front of the cornerback. This was the look that they gave the Patriots to open up the game, a cornerback backed off of LaFell, giving them that slant play, but later in the game they would look to take Lafell out of the game.

When you add a play-action fake to this play it only moves those linebackers even more, opening up the passing lane to LaFell.

This is another slant pass to LaFell, this one off of a play-action fake to Shane Vereen. Look at the way Clay Matthews is flowing, he is bailing out of the passing lane for that run fake but unfortunately LaFell dropped the pass and set up a 2nd & 10. Time after time that deep slant to LaFell is open and it is the best drive starter that the Patriots have.

The Packers continually gave Gronkowski off coverage and were willing to just let him catch the ball short and tackle him. On the Patriots second drive, LaFell missed the first down catch, Gronk had a reception for 5 yards which set up a 3rd & 5 and Edelman simply did not run his route deep enough and got tackled a yard short of the first down line forcing a Patriots punt.

On the opening drive of the second half the Patriots came out and ran a play-action fake to Vereen with an incompletion on a deep out to Edelman, Dan Connolly got called for holding and the Patriots were never able to climb out of 1st & 20 and ended up punting. A huge let down coming out of halftime down 23-14, giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers, who had been able to control the ball and the clock the entire night.

This formation was something that the Patriots should have exposed more. The Packers defensive ends were lining up in wide nines most of the night (Wide 9 simply means they are lining up on the outside shoulder of the last person on the line of scrimmage). With the way that they line up against this overload formation it gives them such a natural gap on the left side of the line. When the Patriots lined up with extra tight ends or with extra lineman on the end of the line the Packers would give this look, and I wish the Patriots would have attacked more out of this formation early in the game before the Packers were able to tighten up their alignments.

Look at the room that Edelman has in this play. This quick screen was something that could have been effective all night in the passing game and slowing down the pass rush. They were constantly playing off of Edelman and dedicating attention to Gronkowski on the line and even more attention when LaFell was lined up opposite Edelman.

This is something that the Patriots should have exploited more. Look at Clay Matthews trying to cover Shane Vereen coming out of the backfield. He is completely out of his element, he is not a coverage linebacker, he is a 3-4 pass rusher and attacking the quarterback is what he does best. And if you go back and watch the times he tried to cover Vereen and Gronkowski he didn't stand a chance, and Brady needs to be able to see that matchup and exploit that more often.

Something that was frustrating to watch in this game was the inability to want to stick to the running game, the Patriots had success the entire night running the ball and continually tried to get back to the passing game too soon. They could have had longer sustained drives had they stuck to their running game more and kept their defense off of the field.

Overall I feel that the Patriots missed many opportunities in this game to exploit Packers weaknesses and that either they were out coached in this one or that they did not want to show their hand for a future game against the Packers. Which ever one it was, this game was extremely disappointing as the Patriots could have put up much more points, sustained longer drives and ultimately could have won the game.

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Andrew Ludwig 12/05/2014 12:33:00 PM Edit

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