GREEN BAY — The back-and-forth game everyone expected began to materialize in the second quarter on Sunday at Lambeau Field, and the Packers ended the half with a 23-14 lead over the Patriots.
The Patriots wasted no time getting a score in the second quarter. Passes of 29 yards to TE Rob Gronkowski and 23 yards to TE Michael Hoomanawanui put New England in the red zone. Then RB Brandon Bolden ran for 12 yards for first-and-goal on the 6 and took it in on the very next play to cut into the Packers’ lead. It was 13-7 Green Bay with 12:59 left in the half.
On the play before the TD, Packers CB Sam Shields was slow to get up, and he was eventually taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion.
The Packers answered with another productive drive, but for the third time in the game, Green Bay had to settle for a field goal in the red zone. A 33-yard pass to WR Randall Cobb got the Packers moving, and then QB Aaron Rodgers hooked up with Cobb again on third-and-12 to just barely get the first down at the New England 8-yard line. But the drive stalled there, as Rodgers was sacked on third down by LB Dont’a Hightower, and K Mason Crosby made his third FG of the game, this one from 33 yards out to make it 16-7.
The Patriots came right back down the field with passes of 12 yards to TE Tim Wright, 17 yards to WR Julian Edelman and 26 yards to RB Shane Vereen. Gronkowski’s 11-yard catch and run, on which he broke multiple tackles, made it first-and-goal from the 2 at the two-minute warning. A false start moved the ball back to the 7, but the Patriots scored anyway. An offsides penalty on the Packers on third-and-goal from the 4 moved the ball to the 2, and Brady hit WR Brandon LaFell in the corner of the end zone for the score, making it 16-14 with 1:09 left in the half.
The Packers took one last crack at scoring and got moving on a 28-yard pass to RB James Starks and an 8-yard pass to WR Jordy Nelson. Then on third-and-2, Nelson got free from CB Darrelle Revis on a slant, caught Rodgers pass and raced all the way across the field, diving to the pylon for the TD with 14 seconds left on the clock. It gave the Packers a 23-14 lead at intermission.
Rodgers ended the half 14-of-23 for 282 yards and two TD passes.
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