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Packers 42, Saints 34

Jay Sorgi

Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Packers 42, Saints 34

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Sep 8, 2011 - UPDATED: Sep 9, 2011

Next game: Sunday, September 18th at Carolina
Packers Gameday at 10:00 a.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ with coverage on Live at 5 and 10 on TODAY'S TMJ4

Postgame Analysis

GREEN BAY - The story was supposed to be the point-scorers.  It was, in one sense, with both quarterbacks going for a combined 718 yards passing.

The story was certainly also the play of Randall Cobb, with two touchdowns and an NFL record-tying 108 yard kickoff return.

But the biggest plays of the world champion Green Bay Packers' season-opening 42-34 win over New Orleans came from the defense.

The one that will be most remembered, of course, is the goal line stand at the one yard line with no time left on the clock.  I would debate that the final stop was the greatest defensive back-to-the-wall stand in 45 years, since Tom Brown's pick in the 1966 NFL Championship Game.

But in general, it was the stops the Packers made in the red zone, including the field goal in the second quarter (thanks, Charles Woodson for the key 3rd-down stop).

Also look at the stand the Packers made, holding New Orleans scoreless as they were just seven yards from the end zone.

The Saints were 1-5 in red zone efficiency for the game.  The Packers were 4-4.

There was the difference.  The Packers' defense made the difference.

And in a game with 76 points scored, that is a rare feat.

For more analysis, check out our video with Newsradio 620 WTMJ Packers voice Wayne Larrivee and TODAY'S TMJ4's Lance Allan.

4th Quarter

10:44 p.m.  Saints' 3rd Drive  1:08
Masthay's punt ends in Bush's arms at the one yard line?  Nope.  His foot slipped into the end zone.  Slippery turf kills the Packers here.

80 yards for Brees and company.  They get 10 with Sproles.  Packers using a 1-4-6 formation on defense.

1:02 left....Brees to Graham.  First down.  Copy and paste like before.  Worst, Graham got out of bounds.

:55 left...Brees to Meachem.  First down.  Copy and paste.   Saints 41 yards from a possible tie.

:32 left...Brees to Colston.  First down in the red zone.

:17 left.  Brees to Sproles at the nine, but tick, tock, tick, tock...clocks the football with three seconds left.

Absolutely like clockwork.  Nine yards from a two-point attempt to tie it. 

Packers one stop from victory.

Brees....scramble....end zone throw....KNOCKED DOWN!  But yellow flags.  Hawk over the top, pass interference in the end zone.  

WHOA!  That was a clean stop by Hawk!  No pushing in the back.

An untimed down at the 1 yard line....INGRAM STOPPED BY THE FRONT SEVEN!!!!

10:37 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  2:15
Thank you Donald Driver for the biggest catch of the night...on the onside kick.

Starks right side, and he gets two.  Tick, tick, time out..

Starks again, four yards, third and four coming up after the two-minute warning.

3rd-4 at NO 37: Kuhn short of the first down, big time short, after the catch.  Why not go for the jugular?

Punting time.  Coffin corner punting time.

10:33 p.m.  Saints' 2nd Drive  3:29 (blog joined in progress)
3rd-10 at GB 25: Brees finds Colston who beat Woodson and it's first and goal at the five.  Scary.  Very scar.

HUGE 2nd goal knockdown by B.J. Raji, hanging out at the 5-yard line.

3rd-goal at 5: Graham with the catch and it's a one-score game again. 

10:19 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  10:27
Great hole by the O-line to open a 9.5 yard run up for Starks.

Red zone performance: Saints 0-3 in the end zone, Packers 4-4.  There's your difference.  Great point, Wayne Larrivee.

Ryan Grant around right end.  Three straight runs here, and the Packers seem content to wind down some time and make sure the Saints don't get as many chances for comeback drives.

Four straight runs, this time to the 43 and a first down.  What is this, the 2010 Badgers?

Rodgers play action, and Harper knew what was coming.  Loss of 10 yards.  Great blitz call by Williams, the Saints' d-coordinator.  Starks had no chance to get to Harper after taking the fake handoff.

3rd-18 at GB 36: useless completion on the sideline to Jones.  Useless.

10:12 p.m.  Saints' 1st Drive  11:50
Oh did Green Bay need that one.  This game is proving to be one about the more efficient of the explosive offenses.

And 50 is not out of the question.

Crosby with a pooch kick by Collins to keep away from Sproles.  Good.  Stopped at 26 yard line.  Don't let #43 get his hands on it.

3rd-4 at NO 32: another big one coming.  Set a course to make New Orleans play no-huddle or something like that if they make the stop and the Packers score.

Brees...BLITZED AND SACKED BY BUSH, HAWK, WALDEN!  Share the glory, boys.  Though Bush has better post-sack dance moves.

Cobb with the punt return here, 25 yard line...uh oh....off to the races, but yellow hankies from Kuhn's block in the back to stop a 30-yard return and make it much less.

10:03 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  continued from 1st quarter
Green Bay 42, New Orleans 27
Kuhn 1 yd TD run

Rodgers to Nelson and a first down catch.  Rodgers to (fill-in-the-blank) and a first down catch.  Just fill in, copy, paste.  That's how often it's happening tonight.

Rodgers again with a delivery to Driver and a fantastic diving grab inside the 20 yard line.  Credit Rodgers for the constant step-up and re-step-up to get extra time.  T.J. Lang with big time block finishing.

2nd-1 at NO 14: Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn nearly broke one, with Vilma saving the touchdown.  Kuhn knocks his hands together in disgust realizing he could have had six.

Driver ties Lofton for all-time receiving yardage.

Rodgers just short of the goal line after a spin move following a hook pattern.  Hmmmm...did he cross the goal line?  Fans yell boos.

3rd-goal at NO 1: big score here if they get it....HUGE score.

Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn!

3rd Quarter

9:57 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  3:02
Starks off right side...and four yards well earned after Lang was beaten by Franklin at the line of scrimmage.  Franklin nearly had Starks for -1.

Flag on Greer as Jennings made a circus catch at the 30 yard line on the New Orleans sideline!  Hello, world.  The fireworks continue.

Again Jennings.  Again a catch on the sidelines.  Again, first down.  Clockwork.  And this offense knows they need it.

Rodgers-Nelson with a one-step drop throw and Nelson beat the first guy before an eight yard gain.

Starks right side again and a blasting run through two tacklers over the yellow first down line the players can't see, but we can.

Long drive continues.  Grant cutback run and it's two yards.  Fourth quarter!!!!

9:51 p.m.  Saints' 3rd Drive  6:12
I said this morning it may be a game in the 40's.  Now, I think the Packers may need to get to 50 to win this one.

Henderson breaks a Clay Matthews tackle for a first down.  Matthews missing a tackle happens once in a blue moon.

Uh oh.  Next play, Charles Woodson and David Thomas get into it, and yellow flags fly....and it's on Woodson.

That is a monster penalty in this contest.  Ugh.

As 70,000+ try to help with their noise, Sproles gets seven yards around left end.  He had too much speed for Bishop on the outside.

3rd-inches at GB 6.5 or so: Ingram up the left side...nope!  Wynn was first to plaster him at the seven.  

Does Sean Payton, the gambler, dare go for it?  He wants a measurement.  Hmmmm.....length of the ball short...and they will go for it.

HUGE play here....HUGE.

4th-inches at GB 7: Brees play action....scramble....incomplete after an 18-yard-backward scramble!  HUGE STAND!

9:45 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  6:54
Oh, this game continues to get good. 

Cobb may be winded from going 108 yards.  Downed in end zone.  80 yards to breathing room.

Rodgers play action...and it's the first utterance of "Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn" after a seven-yard completion on a check down throw.

3rd-3 at GB 27: big.  Very big.  Every third down is big in this game.

ARod missed Driver.  Oh, we got a game now.  First time since the first quarter New Orleans has the ball with a one-score game.

And Sproles with another 18 yard return.  Bush was shoved in the back, but no flag.

9:38 p.m. Saints' 2nd Drive  8:36
Green Bay 35, New Orleans 27
Brees-Henderson 27 yd TD pass

And Sproles nearly took it the other way for 103 yards.  Shields stops him at 57 yards.  Nuts.

Got tennis neck yet?

Clay Matthews just owned Thomas for a two-yard loss after beating two guys, one of them holding him, with no flag.

Bress...to Colston....the beat goes on for the Saints.  Thank goodness for Cobb and that earlier fumble in the first quarter, or we'd have a game with 10 lead changes or so.

Brees deep.  Wide open.  Henderson.  Pump fake killed Shields.

9:33 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  8:40
Green Bay 35, New Orleans 20
Cobb 108 yd KO return TD

Now, with the Saints going long-driving, the Packers may want to respond the same way. 

Naw.  Do what you do best.  Score however you can.  Though it will tire the defense.

Cobb comes out from nine yards deep.  He breaks past the 20.  He breaks past a LOT MORE!

All-time record-tying 108 yard return!!!!!!!!!!!!  Larry: "What a godsend."

It tied the NFL record of Ellis Hobbs for New England in 2007.

9:22 p.m.  Saints' 1st Drive  15:00
Green Bay 28, New Orleans 20
Kasay 38 yd FG

The Saints have to go 80 yards after Crosby booms one like Morstead for the Saints, to the back fof the end zone.

Wayne: "The Packers want to see as little of Darren Sproles as they can."

Ingram gets nine yards, going to the Packers' 3rd defensive level to earn a first down.  That hasn't happened much today.  Walden got dominated by the lineman blocking him.

Brees play action...uh oh....phew.  Pass overthrown to Thomas.  If not, it's a big tight end rumbling down the sideline.

Ingram is averaging nine yards per carry in the 2nd half.  Another nine-yarder.  Saints show they can run.

I think the Saints want to rest their defense and get a long drive like the Packers did before.

Henderson misses the first down marker, but gets near the 50 after a sideline pass by Brees.  Looser coverage there after Woodson's blitz.

Ingram cutback run again, and it's another first down.  Five yards, and it's not huge gains, but it's enough to worry you...and worry the Packers.

Brees finds Meachem on the unguardable slant pattern.  Wayne considers Brees a surgeon of defenses, and that's an accurate portrayal, Mr. Larrivee.

Broken tackle by Pierre Thomas to gain 15 yards.  Bishop fails to bring him down.  He could have stopped him, but didn't.  Larry: "Very un-Desmond Bishop-like."

12 play drive, 6:00 to be elapsed...or so.  Just what the Packers didn't want.  Plus, a field goal is enough to make it a one-score game.

3rd-7 at GB 12: make that 3rd-2 at GB 7 after Matthews was nailed for going offsides.  Deadly stuff.

Brees rolls right...SACK TIME!  Outside the 20!  Walden with a MONSTER PLAY!  Now, a not-so-guaranteed field goal instead of seven yards from paydirt!

Halftime

9:19 p.m.
Perhaps I shouldn't have this worry, but this feels like Super Bowl XLV, where you felt like no lead was safe and the Steelers could come back from any deficit.

The Saints also have that ability.

But the Packers' offense was explosive enough to hold off Pittsburgh.  They will need to be again to do the same to win tonight.

2nd Quarter

9:06 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  :30
I know the standard operating procedure is to go to the locker room after kneeldowns.

Not here.  You need as much pad on that scoreboard as you can get.

Chuck it, Aaron.

But McCarthy disagrees.

Big time ovation from 70,000+ in Lambeau, and in the NFL offices.  They love this entertainment.

8:59 p.m.  Saints' 2nd Drive  1:59
A Packers drive that not only takes 6:38, but eliminates the ability for New Orleans to really take advantage of the two-minute warning?  Love it.  Anything to hamper that superb Saints offense.

After counting the combined 45 points, Wayne: "I'm a journalism major.  I don't know how to count."

Phew: touchback as the ball bounds over the pylon.  Don't want to give the Saints 35 yards.

Near pick...Shields on Henderson.  Hold on, and it's a chance at a three-score lead.

Next play: 15 yard gain to Henderson.  Saints in no-huddle mode.  Brees is a veteran at this.

Brees stopped at the line of scrimmage and Wynn holds him down as Brees calls time.,  Love to force 3rd down here, though 3rd-12 would have been a bit more comforting.

Sproles gets a first down on a swing pass from Brees, and again, he gashes Green Bay with pure speed.  Plus, he doesn't mind contact.  I love what Hub Arkush said in the radio pregame, explaining how Sproles is what the Saints wanted Reggie Bush to be.

3rd-10 at GB 41: Sproles FINALLY CONTAINED at the 45!  Bishop with the final stoppage, and the Saints even committed a hold.  HUGE, HUGE stop.

8:41 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  8:37
Green Bay 28, New Orleans 17
Starks 17 yd TD run

It's send-a-message time, Packers offense.  You may be the only unit with the advantage in this game.  You may have to win it on your own.  The scary thing is, this offense is so good that they can.

Morstead's cannon sends Cobb to the back of the end zone.  Every drive may now become 80 yards for Green Bay.

Grant around left end...slips.  There seems to be a lot of slippage (if that's a word) on this field tonight.

Rodgers - bombage time - and he overshoots Nelson on what should have been a 77 yard TD pass.  Last time we saw that was in the 2009 NFC wildcard game in overtime.

Hopefully not a scoop-and-score coming like the end of that game.

3rd-7 at GB 23: Jennings with a diving grab, across the 35, and Patrick Robinson was in his shoulder pads.  (Not literally, but you get the point.)

Six d-backs in the game...not enough.  You need about 30 to consistently stop Rodgers when he's accurate.

Driver in front of the Saints bench with a eight-yard gain.  Love the Jennings block to help spring him for the good gain.

3rd-2 at GB 44: Starks left side and a push with his buddies in green help him get additional yardage beyond the first down marker.  A rugby scrum.  Sign Starks up for the US national rugby team for the World Cup next month.  Well, not during Packers season.

Starks with another run past the super-solid first line of New Orleans' run defense.  Crabtree with a "rub-his-nose-in-it" block, according to Larry McCarren.

Busted play, a whoops, as Rodgers was going for a handoff and no backs were waiting for him.  An unplanned quarterback keeper.

Larry: "Folks, it was just kind of an ugly play."

Jennings with a catch, beating his first tackler and he gets the first down inside the 30.  Porter (the guy who picked-six Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV) with the tackle and the whiff before the tackle.

Movement on the left side...defensive encroachment.  Clifton pointing at the Saints lineman like he was tattling to the teacher.  No problem with such a tattle-tale here.

Grant with a great left side wall for four yards.  Oh, I love 2nd and 1's...the possibilities of play action.

For highlighter users: Mike McCarthy (pictured on NBC) loves to use blue, yellow and pink.

It's 3rd-2 after Shanle was unblocked before smashing Starkes into the ground.

It is imperative that the Packers makes this a two-score lead before the Saints get the ball back again...and get the ball back to start the second half, too.

ARod - diving catch to Crabtree and the drive mercifully continues.  A wonderful-looking three-yard gain.

Starks with a HUGE run!  Up the left side and a broken tackle, another broken tackle, BEAUTIFUL!

Credit Wells with a an uncalled hold...I mean a block.

8:39 p.m.  Saints' 2nd Drive  8:37
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 17
Sproles 72 yd punt return TD

Sproles with a fantastic punt return.  He out-runs the entire Packers punt team.  Juked Lee to start it.

Larry McCarren: "I think we got ourselves a football game, Wayne."

8:35 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  9:44
The Saints' punter sends one to the end line.  NASA may want to sign him up to send probes to Mars.

Malcolm Jenkins breaks up a delivery to Driver, and Double D's head snapped during the hit.  He recovers well, though.  No damage, seemingly.

3rd-10 at GB 20: the first punt of the night coming on the first three-and-out?

Yep.  Greer breaks-up the sideline throw to Nelson.  Uh oh.

8:23 p.m.  Saints' 1st Drive  continued from first quarter
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 10
Kasay 30 yd FG

B.J. Raji able to hold Thomas to three yards despite getting pushed back from the line of scrimmage by a Pro Bowl guard.  That tells you this guy's competitiveness...and the reason the Packers can play nickel defense.

Brees with a lob pass to Graham for 19 yards as Hawk, with blonde hair tucked into his jersey, chasing him.

Credit Ryan Pickett with chasing Sproles down on a screen and forcing him to cut back, so Hawk could clean up the mess.  That's the Packers' D-line, the unsung heroes of this defense.

Brees finds Colston, who is found by Williams for a loss of one.  Tremendous open field tackle.  Just going for Colston's knees and holding on.  Great tackling.

3rd-14 at GB 45: Brees discovers Henderson after having forever to throw.  First down.

25 combined passes for 311 yards in this game.  Incredible.

3rd-2 at GB 21: Ingram up the middle, following Kreutz.  The guy is a road grader.  First down.

Shields with tremendous coverage on Henderson in the end zone, making Brees chuck the ball into the tundra on 2nd down.

3rd-4 at GB 12: Brees' pass broken up by Woodson knocked the football down.  Brees tried to send a throw between three Packers defenders.  Don't do that, Brees.

1st Quarter

8:19 p.m.  Saints' 3rd Drive  :11
Don't blink...the Packers just scored another touchdown.  (Just kidding.)  Rodgers: 14-15, 188 yds, 3 TD's.

But this game is nowhere near over.  The Saints can match Green Bay score for score.

Last play of the quarter, almost: Williams breaks up a pass intended for Colston.  Simply jumped in front of it.  He got beat for the TD..but he has no fear.

Last play of the quarter. Thomas with a tackle-breaking sprint to the 38 yard line.  Their offense comes to play.

8:11 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  3:31
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 7
Rodgers-Cobb 33 yd TD pass

When it comes to scoring points, Larry McCarren is right..."The Saints ain't no slouch."

Ping-pong football is what this is going to turn into.

Cobb takes a touchback nine yards deep...with the kickoff from the 30 yard line after a Saints penalty.  Wow.  That kicker has a bomb of a leg.

ARod with a HUGE throw and a world-class catch by Finley for 20 yards.  He may be one of two tight ends who could catch that pass with a Saint in his face.

Cobb makes his first catch...three yards.  He'll catch many for many more yards in this league.

ARod discovers Jennings on a deep slant to cross the 50 on 2nd down.  That's simply undefendable.

3rd-2 at 50 with the no huddle: ARod to Finley again for 18 yards.  Wayne Larrivee: "They cannot defend Jermichael Finley."

Cobb with a TD catch thanks to a stiff arm after a slant pattern!  Incredible.  This guy will be something big!

8:03 p.m.  Saints' 2nd Drive  6:24
Green Bay 14, New Orleans 7
Brees-Meachem 31 yd TD pass

Sproles desired to come out from about eight yards away...Hall, the former Packer, tells Sproles "uh, don't do that."

Meachem with droppsies disease on 1st down.  No complaints here.

Interesting thing to see Olin Kreutz at center for the Saints.  He knows the pressure of playing on the tundra, whether frozen or not, with all his years in Chicago.

3rd-6 at NO 24: Brees hit from behind but finds Sproles and he is big time off to the races.  Burnett catches him after 35 yards.  Sproles beating Hawk, and no linebacker can cover Sproles.

Screen...Pierre Thomas for nine yards.  Woodson and Matthews blitzing on this and last play, so New Orleans wants to make them pay for the blitz.  They have the backs who can make big plays out of screen passes.

3rd-1 at GB 31: Brees on play action...Meachem with a great leaping grab to beat Williams. 

7:53 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  9:29
Green Bay 14, New Orleans 0
Rodgers-Nelson 3 yd TD pass

36 yards from a two-touchdown lead, Rodgers goes with the screen game with Grant.  The nine yard gain is a preview of the kind of play that will probably bring more productivity per play for Green Bay than the run game.

Grant around right end and it's 10 yards.  The seal was at the cutback point...not exactly the Lombardi Sweep, but it will do.

Rodgers to Finley!  Big play with the slant pattern, and it's six yards to 14-0.

Rodgers has forever, but no one was open.  A rare event with the Packers' receiving corps.

2nd-goal at the 6 = 2nd-goal at the 11.  Lang with the jump.  This O-line may be the Packers' undoing unless they get things together.

Driver with a catch at the three-yard line and he's now the owner of 700 career receptions.

3rd-goal: Rodgers to Nelson - diving grab and the party is on!

7:47 p.m.  Saints' 1st Drive  10:08
Sproles downs the football in the end zone.  80 yards for the Saints to tie it up.

Mark Ingram gets his first NFL carry and the Heisman winner smashes off left tackle for three yards.  Welcome to the NFL, where three yards is much more your result than what you saw at Alabama.

Packers using nickel defense.

Colston with a catch and FUMBLE!  Collins smashes Colston in the hands with his helmet, and Williams scoops up the goodies.

7:40 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  15:00
Green Bay 7, New Orleans 0
Rodgers-Jennings 7 yd TD pass

Randall Cobb gets the assignment as the first Packer to touch an NFL football in a regular season game.  He's never touched one before in this league.

And the 93rd season (91 in the NFL) of Packers football begins with the football at the 25 following a 28 yard return.

1st play from scrimmage: Jennings takes a square out for...10 yards?  Nope. 

In no huddle mode, Grant sees a football for the first time since his injury, and the chains move off right tackle.  Credit Wells and Sitton with a good combo block.

Rodgers...uh oh.  The offensive line shows its problems.  Casillas blitzed in untouched, owning ARod.

3rd-12: ARod find Driver, the new dad, across New Orleans' territory.  Way to get the butterflies out of his system and get the game in his head after the big news.  He has SUCH a smile on his face.

ARod...deep...Nelson!  Perfect fade throw nailing Nelson on the fly pattern.  He had his guy beat by half a step...and that's all Rodgers needs.  36 yards.

Grant with a great bounce outside for five yards. 

3rd-4 at NO 7: Back shoulder throw and Jennings scores the first points of the 2011 season.

Pregame

7:38 p.m.
The F-16s from Madison fly over and folks, it's on.

7:37 p.m.
Jordin Sparks' anthem...soulful, not perfectly textbook, but very good, in the key of F...for football.  Every fan in the main sections of the stadium with a spectacular red, white and blue flag pattern.  Well organized, and it looks amazing.

7:35 p.m.
Coin flip time...Saints call heads...and it's tails.  Green Bay will start the game on offense.  Larry McCarren: "Good."

7:32 p.m.
Bill Jartz: "Here are your 13-time world champion Green Bay Packers!"

7:30 p.m.
Bart Starr to lead the Packers out onto the field.  Special.  Very special.  Amoing alumni of every team.

Larry: "I wish this game would start.  My stomach is tied in knots."

7:26 p.m.
Fireworks from the north end zone during Kid Rock's performance on NBC.  Special stuff.

7:24 p.m.
Chris Gizzi carries out the American flag.  Special re-enactment of what was before the 2011 MNF game after 9/11.  Awesome.

7:19 p.m.
From the NFL PR staff on Twitter: "Attendance at today's NFL Kickoff Concert in Green Bay - 50,000. Thanks to everyone for coming out. Great lead-in to the game" 

6:00 p.m.
The concert has been rocking outside Lambeau Field since 4:30 today.  That is nothing compared to the rocking these two offenses plan to do later tonight.

Fans at the game should expect to suffer tennis neck with these passing games going back and forth.

Fans at home will think the score changes on the graphic will seem like a Wall Street ticker.

A score in the 40's on both sides...very possible.

How is it, by the way, that some prognositcators are big time touting the Saints' suddenly superb defense against the run as a challenge to Green Bay.

The Packers ran the ball nine times against Pittsburgh, the best defense in football...and put up 31 points.

It's an old-fashioned shootout at the Lambeau corral.

5:43 p.m.
Our Jeff Falconio gives us three keys to tonight's game.

4:49 p.m.
Packers Gameday's Greg Matzek reminds us of the new rules for the NFL season.

4:41 p.m.
Packers Gameday's Trenni Kusnierek tweets the view from the "Back to Football" concert stage.

4:21 p.m.
Our Jay Olstad tweets "The fans seem to be multiplying by the thousands every time we take a live look at the stage in Lambeau's parking lot."

3:33 p.m.
From Packers Gameday's Trenni Kusnierek: it's 3rd down - her three things to think about during the game.

3:22 p.m.
Charles Benson tweets "Don't rip me for wearing a tie, I'm working! I interview NFL commish soon. What a beautiful day!"

1:54 p.m.
From Vince Vitrano: "These are some funny Saints fans.  Good stuff."

12:21 p.m.
"The Packster" has arrived at Lambeau Field.  Be very scared.

11:44 a.m.
The Packers show they're a giving organization again...this time, to a school in Alabama.

10:45 a.m.
We've confirmed with Donald Driver's PR management team: he is a dad again.  

10:25 a.m.
This Packers season begins the quest for a repeat championship, something done only once in the last 12 years - by the 2003-04 New England Patriots.

Many sports betting lines have those two teams as the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVI.

What do you think?  Answer our Sound Off question.

9:23 a.m.
If, for some reason, the game seems to get out of hand with a team taking a 21-point lead or so, the opposing team's fans shouldn't fret.

These are among two of the most explosive offenses in football.

Much like the 1989 Packers were, and they pulled off a 21-point comeback against this very same Saints franchise in this very same stadium, nearly 22 years to the day.

8:44 a.m.
Apparently, in 54 previous Packers season, they have never attempted a card stunt...until now.

Fans can use the 60,000+ cards Packers staff members are placing on seats to create a huge American flag during Jordin Sparks' national anthem.

There's more from the TODAY Show: a preview with Tony Dungy of NBC Sports and "What does it take to be a Cheesehead?"

7:55 a.m.
Check out a preview of tonight's game from NBC's "Football Night in America" crew.

Also, here's stuff from the TODAY show: Antonio Freeman and Ahman Green and the legacy of Vince Lombardi.

6:40 a.m.
Lots more Packers coverage from our Jesse Ritka...no, she's not just a 4Caster.  It includes preparations surrounding the game and the festivities before it and a family who drove 15 hours to come to the opener.

And Kid Rock...Packers fan?  They're among his favorite NFL teams.

5:47 a.m.
Al Roker of TODAY joined Vinny and Susan before the big 17 hour production began on NBC.  Note to Al, it's TODAY'S TMJ4.  Still, he was wonderful as usual!  Check out his chat

5:14 a.m.
One thing to watch for tonight: the tarp that covers part of the ring of glory around Lambeau Field.  It's covering the number 2010, which will be next to the years 1996 and 1967 - the 13th championship.  

5:00 a.m.
T-minus 14 hours and 30 minutes to when life really begins in Wisconsin,when the Packers season begins, as the previous two Super Bowl Champions open the NFL season.

The Packers are facing New Orleans, a team who can tell them all about the failure to repeat - a feat only one team has accomplished in the last 12 years, the New England Patriots (you can fill-in the comments about whether they did it without cheating).

That's a testament to the balance of the NFL, and part of why it's the best sports league in the world.

But in this circumstance, it's also the most frustrating aspect of being a defending champion; good luck defending it.

Still, Packers Coach Mike McCarthy has done a good job making sure his guys are not resting on their laurels, and keeping them motivated for the task at hand.

The fruits of that effort will start bearing tonight.