GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—Brett Favre wasn’t around to finish the game.
Vinny Testaverde was.
The New England Patriots forced the Green Bay Packers’ three-time MVP off the field with an elbow injury near the end of the first half, then snapped their first losing streak in nearly four years with a 35-0 victory at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
“It was just one of those days where a lot of things went right for us and not too many went right for Green Bay,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Tom Brady threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns before he was replaced by backup Matt Cassel late in the fourth quarter. Testaverde, who was signed by New England earlier this week, then came in to run out the clock.
“There is not a whole lot of stuff out there that we did poorly,” Brady said. “Now you just have to try to carry it over to next week. But there is a not a whole lot of carryover, just like last week didn’t mean a whole lot to this week.”
New England (7-3) had lost two straight games at home—its first losing streak since the end of the 2002 season—but is 5-0 on the road this year.
The Patriots had Sunday’s game well under control even before Favre was injured.
New England had run up a 21-0 lead with under two minutes left in the first half when linebacker Tully Banta-Cain wrapped Favre up in the backfield and Tedy Bruschi jumped in to finish the sack. Bruschi’s hit slammed Favre to the ground on his throwing arm, and the three-time MVP got up wincing.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s a quarterback or not, he’s one of the toughest guys in the league,” Bruschi said. “You know when he can’t come back like that something’s probably up.”
Favre, who made his 251st consecutive start on Sunday including playoff games, was replaced by second-year player Aaron Rodgers. Favre walked back out of the locker room shortly after halftime, but Rodgers played the remainder of the game.
“It was a surprise when Brett couldn’t come back in, because he’s always been the iron man of the NFL,” Packers rookie linebacker A.J. Hawk said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Favre likely injured a nerve in his elbow. McCarthy said Favre wasn’t in pain, but was unable to muster enough strength in his hand to grip the football properly after halftime.
McCarthy said he did not know whether Favre would be able to play in the Packers’ next game.
To make matters even worse for Green Bay, Rodgers was limping through the locker room after the game.
“I ain’t talking,” Rodgers said.
Favre also did not speak to reporters. He struggled with his accuracy before the injury, going 5-for-15 for 73 yards and leading the Packers to only two first downs in the first half. Rodgers didn’t fare much better, as the Packers finished the game with only five first downs.
“When you can count the number of first downs on one hand, it’s embarrassing,” center Scott Wells said.
Brady didn’t have any such problems, taking advantage of strong pass protection.
“They were great, they were great,” Brady said.
The Packers (4-6) couldn’t take advantage of a chance to reach .500 under rookie coach Mike McCarthy, but he will likely have bigger problems on his mind this week after the Packers’ second shutout loss at Lambeau this season.
McCarthy said he didn’t see it coming after the Packers had won three of their last four games.
“We can’t jump on that roller coaster that exists,” McCarthy said. “We took a step back today, but there’s a lot of positive things over the last four to five weeks that we need to help move forward.”
The last time Favre left a game with an injury and failed to return was Oct. 3, 2004, when the New York Giants knocked him out of the game with a concussion. He will have an extra day of rest before the Packers’ next game, at Seattle next Monday night.
The Patriots successfully converted fourth downs on their first two scoring drives, including one for a touchdown on their first possession. They went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Green Bay 2. Brady faked a handoff, then threw to tight end Daniel Graham for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Notes: With the Patriots missing three defensive backs because of injuries, wide receiver Troy Brown played at nickelback and was flagged for defensive holding near the end of the first half. The penalty was declined. … Packers tight end David Martin injured his ribs, but McCarthy said x-rays were negative. … Dillon hurt his arm on the touchdown run but returned later in the game.