Despite some more questionable calls and a suspect pass defense, the Green Bay packers persevered at home to outlast the New Orleans Saints by the score of 28-27.
Aaron Rodgers wasn’t quite Drew Brees, but still effective while going 31-of-41 for 319 yards, four touchdowns and just the one interception.
The Packers (2-2) kept pace in a competitive NFC North division while the Saints (0-4) pretty much doomed their playoff chances.
What It Means: Green Bay appeared to be cruising to a win with a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, but a single play would change all of that. On that play, Green Bay’s need to keep Rodgers healthy became apparent when he had to sit out one play for being poked in the eye. Back-up Graham Harrell came in and fumbled on the three yard line in his first ever regular season action. This would lead to a Joe Morgan 80 yard touchdown to give the Saints a 24-21 lead, a 14 point swing which the Packers had a hard time overcoming in the second half.
Green Bay’s secondary had a bad day at work with Brees throwing for 446 yards and three touchdowns, but the run defense was an entirely different story as they allowed only 45 yards on the Saints’ 19 carries. As the old adage says, “a win is a win,” and the Packers will take all of them they can get after having one snatched from them on Monday Night Football against the Seahawks.
Player of the Game: WR James Jones (five catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns)
With Greg Jennings M.I.A to a groin injury, I felt Jones really stepped into that quasi-number one role along with Jordy Nelson and provided Rodgers with the opportunities to move the offense down the field. If Jennings is forced to miss more time, which seems entirely possible, Jones is in line for a lot more targets. Whether he capitalizes on that opportunity will be interesting to watch, especially with Jennings in the last year of his contract.
Highlight of the Game: Part of the reason I chose Jones for Player of the Game was for the exceptional catch he made to seal the win for the Packers. Despite being face-guarded by a Saints defender, he made the near-impossible catch on a critical third down to ensure the Saints would not get a chance to win the game. I love the fact that he caught the ball, keeping the pressure off a reffing crew who had a bad night overall.
Stat of the Game (0): The number of times Rodgers was sacked on the day. After being sacked eight times in the first half of the Seattle game, it was a pleasant surprise to see him actually have time to throw the ball. Yes, the Saints defensive front is bad, but Rodgers also showed great awareness in the pocket, something he lacked the previous three weeks.
What’s Next: Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) await the Packers as they will play host after a week four bye. The Colts are 1-1 at home this season with a win over the Minnesota Vikings and a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, both wins which came at the very end of the game. No reason to think the Packers shouldn’t win this game fairly handily as they appear to be the better team in all facets of the game, but you just never know in the NFL.
What did you think of the Packers close finish with the Saints? Did you like what you saw or do you have concerns? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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