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Packers-Patriots first-half reflections

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 19, 2010 @ 3:01 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

In a first half full of surprises — including a successful onside kick by the Packers to begin the game and an unbelievable 71-yard kickoff return by Patriots backup OG Dan Connolly that was the longest in league history by an offensive lineman — the Packers took a 17-14 lead.

Mason Crosby’s perfectly placed onside kick set up his 31-yard field goal to begin the game’s scoring. But on the ensuing possession, after Patriots QB Tom Brady converted on 3rd-and-17 to WR Deion Branch, RB Jarvis Green-Ellis jitterbugged his way to a 33-yard TD with terrific blocks from Branch and WR Wes Welker.

The first quarter ended with the Pats up 7-3, but on Green Bay’s first play of the second quarter, Packers QB Matt Flynn connected with WR James Jones on a 3rd-and-7 fingertip grab for a 66-yard TD by WR James Jones down the right sideline.

With Flynn getting increasingly comfortable, the Packers pulled off a 14-play, 82-yard TD drive that kept Brady off the field and gave Green Bay a stunning 17-7 on Greg Jennings’ TD catch, his first reception of the game.

But thanks to Connolly, who lumbered down the field showing great moves, the Patriots rallied before the half ended with a TD to Aaron Hernandez with 1:08 remaining.

The Packers’ defense did a good job, particularly NT B.J. Raji, who had a sack and a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

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