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Patriots' Tom Brady: 'I just wish we won this one'

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The tortured expression on Tom Brady's face said it all after New England's tight 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"I just wish we won this one," said the Patriots quarterback. "I think we put a lot into this one. This was a great test for us. I think the guys knew how important it was for our season, and you hate to have the ball on the 20-yard line under three minutes with a chance to go ahead -- and not do it. I think that sucked."

The duel at Lambeau operated as an instant classic, with Brady and Aaron Rodgers trading pristine plays through the air all afternoon.

New England managed to sack Rodgers three times, but he was frequently given far too much time to throw, often scanning the field for what seemed like eons.

Green Bay's front seven generated just one takedown, but it came at the most critical time, with Brady searching for an open target on third-and-9 from the Green Bay 20 with 3:25 left on the clock. Shoved into fourth-and-long, New England missed the subsequent field goal attempt and never saw the ball again.

New England learned firsthand how impossible the talent-rich Packers are to defend, but it's hard to poke holes in the Patriots. They bounce back from losses better than any franchise in the NFL and own the tie-breaker with Denver atop the AFC playoff picture.

It wouldn't surprise us to see New England dominate their final four tilts against the Chargers, Dolphins, Jets and Bills to soar into January. Where they go from there is anyone's guess, but Sunday's showdown certainly had the distinct feel of a Super Bowl preview.

Football fans can only hope for something so juicy.

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