FOXBORO -- Here are a few quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots' 31-17 victory over the Packers . . .
THAT GUY WITH THE BIG PLAY
Lawrence Guy might have been the most underrated Patriots defender through eight weeks of the regular season, but the play he made on the first snap of the fourth quarter would be impossible to overlook. He stripped running back Aaron Jones -- after consecutive ridiculous Aaron Rodgers throws to get into Patriots territory at the end of the third -- and Stephon Gilmore recovered. That stopped the defensive bleeding, and it sparked a 10-play Patriots scoring drive to break a 17-17 tie. Guy's staple is stopping the run on first and second down. Can be a thankless job. But he stole the spotlight late with his timely turnover.
PATTERSON STEPS UP AGAIN
Bill Belichick called his team's running back depth a "concern" last week. When I asked running backs coach Ivan Fears if running Cordarrelle Patterson out of the backfield was "sustainable," he refused to answer. Not exactly a glowing report from either coach. Yet when Cordarrelle Patterson ran Sunday, he ran hard. On his first nine carries of the game, he had 56 yards, including 34 after contact. He couldn't punch it in on his lone goal-line try, but he's helped pick up the Patriots when they needed it at that spot with Sony Michel inactive and James White dealing with a left leg issue that seemed to limit him against Green Bay.
CLINTON-DIX TRADE ALREADY BITING PACKERS
The Packers miss Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Tramon Williams is a corner trying to play safety . . . and not succeeding. He turtled on the last play of the first quarter when he saw James Develin running at him on a Patterson run. He also made a devastatingly bad play trying to get to Josh Gordon on Gordon's 55-yard catch and run touchdown. Was he trying to make a play on the ball? Was he trying to make a tackle? He did neither and he let Gordon coast into the end zone. The Packers also lost safety Jermaine Whitehead when he was ejected after slapping David Andrews in the face mask.
CRUSH RUSH EXECUTION
The Patriots had to rush Aaron Rodgers in such a way that they didn't lose their rush-lane integrity while at the same time closing the pocket in and around him. How'd they do. Pretty well. Deatrich Wise had a picture-perfect bull rush to help force an incompletion in the first quarter. Trey Flowers also bull-rushed to force a quick throw from Rodgers that went to Randall Cobb for eight. Adrian Clayborn and Flowers bull-rushed their blockers back into Rodgers on his fourth-down attempt with just under four minutes left. When Rodgers did get outside the pocket, the Patriots broke down to keep him in front of them. Flowers had a hit on Rodgers in the open field, and Clayborn chased Rodgers down for a strip sack at the end of the first half. When Rodgers and the Packers were down and had to throw late in the game, the Patriots were able to get a little more creative -- running a T-E stunt with Flowers and Clayborn -- to sack him.
BRADY TOPS PETTINE AGAIN
The Packers did well to bother Brady at times. They rarely seemed to bring extra bodies, but the way in which they rushed three or four was creative. Brady was sacked in the first quarter when the Packers showed five rushers at the line and then only brought three. That confused the protection, specifically between Ted Karras and Andrews, and Brady was swarmed under quickly. Later in the game, the Packers brought just four, but they dropped a lineman and sent a linebacker from the second level. The linebacker, Antonio Morrison, came through untouched and drilled Brady for a sack. Later in the drive, Brady looked down at the rush when he didn't need to, looked up and air-mailed a third-down throw to Chris Hogan. Brady gathered himself enough to follow up with two touchdown drives in the third quarter, which is generally what has happened any time Brady has been bothered by Pettine. He's now 8-3 in his career against Pettine as a defensive coordinator.
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