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Commentary: Rodgers a Good QB, but Brady Usually Wins

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambles against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speak at midfield after an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, passes under pressure from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (53) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speak at midfield after an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Fans hold a large cut-out photo of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the team warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)



The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Brady-Rodgers II pretty much encapsulated the careers of the two all-time quarterbacking greats.

Aaron Rodgers did all that he could to compensate for the Green Bay Packers’ shortcomings in other areas.

Tom Brady found a way to win.

No one should have expected anything different on Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass.

The New England Patriots prevailed, 31-17, by scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. As a result, Brady and the Patriots could be headed to another Super Bowl. For Rodgers and the Packers, the season is coming unraveled.

It wasn’t one of Brady’s greatest performances. He actually looked confused at times by the Packers’ defensive schemes drawn up by coordinator Mike Pettine. That hardly ever happens.

But Brady’s 22-for-35, 294-yard passing performance was good enough for the Patriots to win on a night when they were without tight end Rob Gronkowski and rookie running back Sony Michel. Brady did not throw an interception. He had a touchdown pass on a 55-yard strike to wide receiver Josh Gordon to cap the scoring and seal the outcome.

“I think we fought pretty hard,” Brady told NBC after the game. “It was even after three quarters and we played pretty good in the fourth quarter. The defense made so many plays. I’m glad we kept them off the field there at the end. So it was a great job.”

Remember the questions about whether the Patriots, after beginning the season with two losses in three games, were in trouble? Those are a distant memory. They’ve won six straight games to up their record to 7-2. They’ve beaten their top challenger in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs. They very well could be headed toward the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and yet another Super Bowl appearance.

With Michel out and James White somewhat limited Sunday night after limping off the field at one point, the Patriots got a boost from Cordarrelle Patterson. The veteran wide receiver and kick returner filled in at running back and was extremely effective, with 11 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown.

“That’s what I said before the game: Everyone’s got to contribute,” Brady said. “Everyone made plays. The defense played great. Offensively we ran it with CP. What a great performance he had running. … Everyone made some great plays.”

Brady won only his second career matchup with Rodgers as NFL starters. Rodgers was good but not overwhelmingly so. He played without a brace on his left knee for the first time since the injury he suffered in the season opener. He moved around well and he threw two touchdown passes in a 24-for-43, 259-yard passing effort. But cameras caught him grimacing at times in the second half as he held his right wrist, although he never left the game.

There was plenty for the Packers to overcome. After just trading a safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, to the Washington Redskins, they found themselves further shorthanded Sunday night when safety Jermaine Whitehead was ejected for slapping the face mask of Patriots center David Andrews after a play.

The NFL said that Whitehead was ejected from the game “for striking the head of an opponent.” The ejection decision was subject to review by instant replay and was confirmed by the league office in New York. Even so, some observers felt the ejection was overly harsh for an openhanded slap.

The Green Bay defense became further depleted by a hamstring injury to cornerback Kevin King and an ankle injury to linebacker Blake Martinez, who left the field on a cart but later returned to the game. On offense, right tackle Bryan Bulaga exited with a knee injury.

Even so, the Packers had their chances. They rallied from deficits of 10-3 and 17-10 to tie the game at 17 entering the fourth quarter. The Green Bay defense provided a third-quarter goal line stand and the Packers were driving toward a possible go-ahead score when tailback Aaron Jones lost a fumble on the opening play of the final quarter.

That turnover led to a Patriots touchdown scored by White on a one-yard run, set up by a trick play on which Brady threw a lateral to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who threw the ball back across the field to White for a 37-yard catch and run. On a night when Brady and Rodgers were playing, Edelman actually had the game’s highest passer rating at 118.8.

The Packers have returned from their bye week to lose consecutive road games to the Los Angeles Rams and the Patriots. They might have beaten the Rams if not for Ty Montgomery’s late fumble on a kickoff return. They might have beaten the Patriots if not for Jones’s fumble.

But the what-ifs that are accumulating so rapidly do the Packers no good. They are 3-4-1 and looking at an uphill climb to get back into the NFC playoff race. They still have difficult road games remaining at Seattle, Minnesota and Chicago. Will another season of Rodgers’s prime be wasted?

“He made a lot of good plays tonight,” Brady said of Rodgers. “It’s still great to see him play and play so well.”

But for Brady, it was even better to win.

As usual.