WhenGreen BayhostedNew Orleansat Lambeau Field last Sunday, their combined records stood at 1-5.
This seemed odd considering the overwhelming talent each team has, but in this clash of high-powered offenses, the Packers survived a 28-27 decision when Garrett Hartley’s 48-yard field goal drifted wide left with 2:49 showing in the fourth quarter.
Green Bayquarterback Aaron Rodgers launched four scoring passes and was intercepted once, whileNew Orleans’ Drew Brees unloaded three touchdowns without being picked off.
The game-winner was an 11-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Jordy Nelson with seven minutes left in the same quarter.
Nelson (93 yards on eight catches) is feisty and wasn’t going to be denied as he fought off severalNew Orleansdefenders and dragged them into the end zone.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson’s interception led to Hartley’s 27-yard field goal with 13:04 on the clock in the final quarter and pushedNew Orleans’ lead to 27-21.
On a side note, the NFL and the NFL Referees’ Association ended their stalemate over pension money, but there were still blown calls made that seemed to go against the Packers (2-2), which made Head Coach Mike McCarthy livid.
New Orleans(0-4) is struggling in large part because Sean Payton was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for one year.
Because Payton’s the head coach, and it was under his watch that “bounty gate” sprung, the NFL brass felt obliged to hammer Payton, considered one of the top offensive minds in the game.
Still, the Saints (474 total net yards) led 24-21 with 3:49 showing in the third quarter when Brees hit wide receiver Joseph Morgan with an 80-yard pass.
“Despite where we’re at, right now I think this team’s going to do something,” said Brees, whose first scoring toss tied the Colts’ Johnny Unitas with a touchdown in 47 consecutive games.
The Brees-to-Morgan bomb was set up when free safety Malcolm Jenkins grabbed Rodgers’ facemask and accidentally scraped his right eye.
Backup quarterback Graham Harrell came in, and on his first play was stepped on by center Jeff Saturday and fumbled, asNew Orleanstook over at its eight-yard line.
Slow starters this season, Rodgers (31 of 41 for 319 yards) directedGreen Bay62 yards for a 7-0 lead when he spotted wide receiver James Jones with a 12-yard pass and 9:02 left in the first quarter.
Strangely, these were the first points tallied by the Packers (421 total yards) in the opening stanza in 2012.
A 20-yard toss from Brees (35 of 54 for 446 yards) to wide receiver Marques Colston (153 yards and nine receptions) and 3:33 remaining in the first quarter capped an 80-yard, 10-play drive, and was sandwiched between a nine-yard strike from Rodgers to wide receiver Greg Jennings early in the second quarter as the Packers moved ahead 14-7.
Green Baymade it 21-7 when Rodgers found Jones (56 yards and five catches) with a 14-yard throw and just under five minutes left before the half.
The 92-yard, 14-play march was kept alive when in punt formation and on fourth and one at theGreen Bay17, fullback John Kuhn took the snap and rambled five yards.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.