GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a quiet locker room, Tom Brady sat alone and stewed about missed opportunities.
This was one tough night for the New England Patriots.
Brady threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but got sacked on third down in a late four-quarter drive to help the Green Bay Packers preserve a 26-21 win Sunday night over New England in a matchup of Super Bowl contenders.
Mike Daniels and Mike Neal combined to sack Brady on third down for a 9-yard loss, and Stephen Gostkowski pushed a 47-yard field-goal attempt wide right with 2:40 left.
The Packers sealed it after Aaron Rodgers converted to Randall Cobb on third-and-4 with the Patriots out of timeouts.
"I just wish we would have won this one. We put a lot into this one, and this was a great test for us," Brady said. "I think the guys knew how important this was for our season."
Rodgers threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting between the star quarterbacks as starters. He connected with Richard Rodgers and Jordy Nelson for long touchdowns for Green Bay (9-3).
"I said all week they had very good skill players," Patriots coach Bill Belichik said. "They have good everything."
Brady finished 22 of 35, connecting with Brandon LaFell for the two scores for New England (9-3), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped.
The second touchdown came from 15 yards early in the fourth quarter to get within 23-21.
The deficit could have been wider for the Packers if not for some hiccups in the red zone.
Green Bay settled for four field goals from Mason Crosby of 35 yards or less, including a 28-yarder to make it a five-point lead with 8:41 left. That kick came after rookie Davante Adams dropped a potential touchdown pass on third-and-5 from the New England 10.
On his knees, a frustrated Rodgers buried his helmet into the turf in frustration.
But he was celebrating at the end. Green Bay has won four in a row and eight of nine.
"I just go back to our philosophy of winning," coach Mike McCarthy said. "First, you have to find ways to win. Learn how to win, No. 1, but then you've got to find ways to win and you have to do it as many different ways as possible."
Rodgers finished 24 of 38, while Lacy had 98 yards on 21 carries, including 26 on the ground in the fourth-quarter drive that led to Crosby's field goal. Adams had a career-best 121 yards on receptions.
Rodgers extended his NFL-record streaks to 360 consecutive passes at home and 31 touchdown passes in a row at home without an interception. His last interception at home came nearly two years ago on Dec. 2, 2012.
The Packers had been blowing past opponents at home with big early leads, turning the final 30 minutes of games at Lambeau Field into glorified practices. But this game had the feel of a championship fight down to the final minutes.
New England punched back after falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter.
Brandon Bolden twisted his way up the middle for a 6-yard scoring run early in the second quarter to get New England on the board. LaFell's 2-yard catch with 1:09 left in the quarter drew New England within 16-14.
But the quick-strike Packers were at their best late in the first half. Rodgers found Nelson in stride over the middle, and the receiver beat standout cornerback Darrelle Revis for a 45-yard touchdown, outracing safety Devin McCourty and tagging the front pylon before falling out of bounds.
"It's heartbreaking for us," Revis said about the loss. "Tonight, they made more plays than us, but at the same time on our end we did some good things. We've just got to go back to the drawing board and look at the film and try to improve and get better."
NOTES: Packers CB Sam Shields left after suffering a concussion in the second quarter. Backup LB Jamari Lattimore left with an ankle injury in the second while on the kick return unit. ... New England was held to its lowest points total since falling 41-14 on Sept. 29 at Kansas City, the Patriots' previous loss.
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