Packers struggle, but still hold off Patriots in overtime

GREEN BAY – It was a tale of two halves for the Packers Sunday afternoon in Green Bay. Playing the New England Patriots second string quarterback, Green Bay’s offense came out flat early before picking the pace up after halftime.

Shortly after the game began, instead that second string quarterback they had been preparing for, Green Bay had its hands full with a third stringer who led his team to within a whisper of knocking off one of the best home teams in football.

Under starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, subbing for the injured Mac Jones, the Patriots drove right into Packers territory on their opening drive, settling for a Nick Folk 37-yard field goal. After Green Bay drives were stymied by a fumble and a stalled drive leading to a punt, the Packers finally broke through in the second quarter when rookie Christian Watson took a misdirection pitch 15 yards for the touchdown, putting Green Bay in the lead.

It was not a lead that would last for long.

Nearing the end of the first half, an errant Aaron Rodgers pass was jumped by New England’s Jack Jones, who scampered back 40 yards for the touchdown. The pick-six was just the fourth of Rodgers’ career, but also dropped his dismal first half passer rating to just 11.2 (4-11, 44 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT).

The second half went much better, even as Green Bay’s defense struggled against New England’s third string quarterback, rookie Bailey Zappe, who entered after Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game with a suspected concussion by Rashan Gary midway through the first quarter.

In the second half, Rodgers led Green Bay on touchdown scoring drives of 81 and 75 yards, while Zappe was effective as well. The rookie went 10-15 passing for 99 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 107.4.

Tied 24-24 late in regulation, Green Bay thought they had a go-ahead score when Romeo Doubs could not complete the catch in the end zone on a 40-yard pass play.

In overtime, each team traded three-and-outs, before the Packers sustained a drive to the New England 13-yard line as time ticked away. Mason Crosby’s 31-yard attempt was good, giving Green Bay their third win of the season and third win in a row.

The Packers (3-1) will travel to London on Thursday to play the New York Giants (3-1) Sunday morning at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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