Now that nobody in Green Bay has fingernails left and some will be sporting new gray hairs on their head it is time to sum up the game.
This game featured a battle between the starting quarterbacks as Aaron Rodgers threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Not to be outdone Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
In terms of offense, the Packers had a solid attack. They ran the ball effectively; Benson had 84 yards on 18 carries. They passed the ball well and the offense seemed to have some ebb and flow to it, something that was missing in the previous weeks.
The defense, however, appears to have regressed from their last couple of weeks. While they stopped the run when they needed too, the Saints gained only 45 rushing yards on 19 attempts, they couldn’t stop the pass. On multiple occasions the Packers gave up big yardage on third down, usually on passes right over the middle of the field. Brees is a good quarterback but the defense looked just as poor as it did last season, which is disappointing because it had been playing so well in these previous two weeks.
But this game was all about momentum shifts and it started late in the second quarter.
Momentum shift #1 – With 4:50 to go till half time the Packers had the ball inside their own 20-yard line. On fourth down and an obvious punting situation the Packers ran a direct snap to John Kuhn and converted on fourth down. The Packers then drove down the field and scored to take a 21-7 lead.
Momentum shift #2 – As the first half was winding down; the Saint put together an impressive drive and punched it into the endzone to cut the lead to 21-14.
Momentum shift #3 – In the start of the second half, the Saints were driving the ball and after the Packers committed a personal foul on a field goal attempt, the Saints got a fresh set of downs with only a couple of yards to go. The Packers defense was able to lock down the Saints and held them to a field goal.
Momentum shift #4 – With the Packers driving the ball, Aaron Rodgers was hit in the face by a Saints defender and appeared to hurt his eye in some way. He had to sit out the next play and Graham Harrell fumbled on the next snap and the Saints recovered. The Saints then scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass by Drew Brees. On the following possession Rodgers came back into the game and threw an interception, which the Saints turned into another field goal.
Momentum shift #5 – At the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter the Packers capped off a seven play, 57-yard drive with a touchdown to Jordy Nelson, giving the Packers a 28-27 lead.
Momentum shift #6 – The Saints had moved the ball and were in position for a 43-yard field goal. On the first attempt there was a holding penalty on the Saints, which pushed it back ten yards. On the next attempt the Packers jumped off sides so the ball moved forward five yards. Finally there was an attempt without a penalty and the kick was wide left. Packers held on to their one point lead.
While the last key play was not really a momentum shift it was probably the biggest play of the game. On third and three the Packers needed a first down to secure the win and ran a quick pass, which was miraculously caught by James Jones. The Packers offense got the first down and then took the kneel downs to secure the victory.
With the win, the Packers improve to 2-2 on the season and won one they really needed. From here the Packers will spend their next three games on the road against the Colts, the Texans and the Rams.
In this game the offense looked to gain back some of the form they possessed last season, unfortunately so did the defense. Going forward, if the Packers can play with the offense of last season and the defense they showed in weeks two and three of this seasons they could become an even more dangerous team.
Five Thing We Learned
- Aaron Rodgers and the offense looks much better – Cedric Benson had a solid game and Aaron Rodgers looked much like he did last season. He only had ten incompletions on 41 attempts and threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Very good game from the offensive side.
- The defense is still a work in progress – Even with back-to-back good performances by the defense, they didn’t look very solid today. They made stops they needed to make at the goal line but gave up too many yards in the air. Look for them to improve on this in the coming weeks.
- The Packers could really use a solid backup quarterback – Even though it was only one play and Harrell was tripped by his linemen, the fumble that was lost by Harrell could have cost the Packers the game. You never want to think about your star quarterback getting hurt but it is a situation you must address and if something were to happen to Rodgers there isn’t much evidence that Harrell could lead a team to victory.
- The Saints are still dangerous – Even though they are 0-4 the Saints still look like a good team, especially that offense. Brees is still a dangerous quarterback and that receiving group is very talented. If the defense can figure out, the Saints could make a late season run
- McCarthy can be fearless – That fake punt call so close to his own endzone took a lot of guts. It paid off this time but you just hope that that type of fearless play calling doesn’t come back to bite the Packers because if that failed it could have cost the Packers the game today.