All good things must come to an end, and that is exactly what happened to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Filling in for the injured Tom Brady and starting his second game since high school, Matt Cassel held the Patriots' 21-game winning streak in his hands. This weekend the Patriots faced the Miami Dolphins, the last team to defeat the Patriots in the regular season on December 10, 2006.
Matt Cassel was handed the reigns to a 16-0 team, and the Pats looked everything but. Cassel completed 19 of 28 passes for 131 yards, one TD, and a pick.
But though 131 passing yards against the Dolphins is inexcusable, the load shouldn't be placed entirely on Cassel's shoulders. The Dolphins shut down the Patriots' run game, and Randy Moss showed flashbacks of the "I-don't-care" mentality apparent in his final years in Minnesota and Oakland.
Ronnie Brown torched the defense with 116 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while throwing a 19-yard strike to Anthony Fasano. Ricky Williams also "lit up" the Pats' D with 119 all-purpose yards of his own.
New England fans were finally brought back down to earth. But never fear, Pats fans. Another Patriots QB, after winning his first pro start while filling in for an injured franchise QB, was shutdown by Miami in his second start. I speak, of course, of Tom Brady.
In control of Packer Nation, as well as a 13-3 team with huge expectations, Rodgers out-dueled his counterpart, Tony Romo. He completed 22 of 39 passes for 290 yards, while Romo completed 17 of 30 passes for 260 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown strike to Miles Austin.
As was Cassel's case, the loss cannot be placed entirely on Rodgers. The offensive line allowed five Dallas sacks, and Ryan Grant fumbled the Packers' second play from scrimmage.
The Pack's defense was no help, either, giving up 142 rushing yards to Marion Barber and 76 rushing yards to Felix Jones. Miles Austin had two receptions for 115 yards and a TD.
The Packers hope to rebound next week, renewing the Battle of the Bays rivalry in Tampa, while the Patriots have a bye week before heading to San Francisco.