Packers overcome Brees, perceived bad calls in 28-27 win
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Sun. Oct. 7 at Indianapolis
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Laugh of the day: T. J. Lang about Josh Sitton, as described on Packers OT: "He doesn't snore a lot, but he stinks up the room."
McCarthy to Larry McCarren on the win.
"It was a fun game to be a part of. It speaks volumes of the character of our football team. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We had a number of things go wrong for our football team."
On the Graham Harrell fumble:
"To have a turnover on the one yard line makes me sick. That's a correctable moment.
On Aaron Rodgers' huge day:
"I thought Aaron was outstanding, the way he handled the no-huddle. He had one throw that he wishes he had back, but other than that, he was exceptional."
On getting past controversy from last week:
"They moved on. They really handled it well."
6:36 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 2:49
Benson stays inbounds on a three yard run. Oh is this a huge four-minute offense drive.
OK, Saints, waste those time outs.
3rd-3 at GB 45: the biggest third down in two seasons....and JONES! HUGE CATCH despite being interefered with. Insane catch.
6:19 p.m. Saints' 3rd Drive 7:00
BALL! BALL! Sproles fumbled. And was the whistle blown before the ball came loose? The Packers came out with the ball there. There can't be a replay by NFL rules. Plus, McCarthy has no challenges.
Could this make the Packers' record 1 win, 1 legit loss, 2 losses by replay officials?
Matthews. Woodson. Fans. Anger-fest at Lambeau.
SACK! Wilson responds to bad ref-fing with a smash of Brees. Best response: good play.
3rd-2 at NO 49: Pass to Sproles and D.J. Smith blew him up. Just blew him up.
4th-2 at NO 49: Biggest play of the game so far - and a flag comes down as Brees gets nailed for a delay of game...what? Saints called time out? Wayne: "That's replacement-esque."
4th-2 at NO 49, v.2: Moore gets a thread-the-needle pass. Hayward great coverage. Too good. He had Moore's arm. Brees perfect throw negated the missed call.
Brees-to-Moore again. Hayward beaten on a square out. They're taking advantage of a rookie.
Wayne: "Packers defense has to force a turnover here."
Saints want to eat up clock here as well as score, to make things especially hard on Aaron Rodgers and company if they have to come back.
3rd-4 at GB 25: Matthews' pressure and McMillan's fantastic denial stopped the outside throw.
Field goal good...but WHOA! Hold on New Orleans! The guy trying to stop Tramon Williams from blocking it.
2nd chance? 53 yards? Packers in the neutral zone. Daniels the culprit.
3rd chance? WIDE LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!
6:12 p.m Packers' 2nd Drive 10:25
Green Bay 28, New Orleans 27
Benson crushes a Saints tackler near midfield and smashes for eight yards. You may need a scraper to get that Saints defender out of the big G at midfield.
Rodgers beats a blitz for a six-yard gain to Nelson. The eye is slowly getting better.
SHOVEL! Cobb. First down. Well set up. The line sold it by the pass protection look. Fantastic.
Rodgers! Nelson! Right-back-at-ya! Dead-eye aim. Intended pun.
6:06 p.m. Saints' 2nd Drive 10:46
ALMOST a pick in the red zone! Wiliams ran into Burnett as he tried to catch the interception. Wasted opportunity.
3rd-10 at NO 9: Would be HUGE. Blitz from Matthews caused a rare incompletion. Congrats, D. You have set the table. Packers offense: deliver the meat.
5:59 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 13:04
There's some Benson skittering for nine yards. Waited for his blocks. Crabtree and Newhouse paved the way.
3rd-1 at GB 43: Bootleg! Rodgers faked 10 guys, beat one guy to the first down marker and then some.
3rd-7 at NO 44: Every 3rd down play by the Packers offense is now huge.
Cobb! Yes, the pass was high, but you must hold on to it. Hopefully this is a field position win for the Packers pinning New Orleans deep. Though it could just mean Brees has 500 passing yards by the end of the drive.
5:53 p.m. Saints' 1st Drive (continued from 1st quarter)
New Orleans 27, Green Bay 21
Hartley 27 yd FG
HUGE tackle by D.J. Smith on a swing pass. Was it ever needed. But great 2nd down plays must be matched by great 3rd down plays.
3rd-14 at GB 42: Again. Failure. Colston. 27 yards. Wide open. Williams beaten in the slot.
3rd-4 at GB 9: Not this time. Shields stops what would have been Brees' 409th passing yards of the game.
5:47 p.m. Saints' 3rd Drive 2:35
More wide open receivers as Matthews got destroyed by Collins in pass coverage.
SACK TIME! CLAY MATTHEWS! Biggest defensive play of the game, following the Saints' version of it.
3rd-17 at NO 39: Wayne: "They let the cat out of the bag again." Colston to the GB 37. Woodson slow to get up. It gets worse.
5:44 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 3:49
Aaron Rodgers is back in the game, to a thunderous ovation.
Rodgers. Nelson. Square out. 16 yards. Clockwork. Resistance is useless. Even with Rodgers' right eye getting poked.
And then Robinson picks Rodgers. Underthrown ball. Uh oh.
5:38 p.m. Saints' 2nd Drive 5:10
New Orleans 24, Green Bay 21
Brees-Morgan 80 yd TD pass
Wayne: "It's up to the defense to make sure (the fumble) was not the game-turning play."
3rd-5 at NO 13: Moore wide open on a "we have too many receivers in an area for your two defenders" pass play. Clay Matthews silent while being double-teamed.
Wide. Open. 80 yard TD. Morgan. Blown by Shields and Williams, seemingly.
5:24 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 9:41
Rodgers. Nelson. Square-in. 11 yards. First down. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Rodgers. Jones. Back shoulder. 20 yards. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Illegal hands to the face against the Saints, thrown by the back judge about 15-20 yards downfield. Packers will take it, but how does that get called by a back judge? Did he get lasik surgery?
Rodgers. Nelson. Square-in. 12 yards. First down. Clockwork. Not a copy and paste. Resistance is useless.
Rodgers. Finley. Scramble. Catch. 11 yards. First down. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Benson up the middle. Enough to get the defense to pay attention. 4 yards.
3rd-3 at NO 4: Flag drawn on an incompletion to Driver which would have been short of a first down...thanks, defense. Fase mask. And Rodgers grabs his face after getting a near finger-in-the eye. Out of the game.
1st-2 at NO 2: Fumble after a mishandled exchange at the eight yard line; Harrell was tripped by a lineman while dropping back. Saints get the ball back. Wow. Ugh. Blown drive.
5:05 p.m. Saints' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 3rd Quarter
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 17
Hartley 20 yd FG
OMG! A Brees incompletion! That's rare...what, two of them? Call the authorities!
3rd-5 at NO 31: Graham. Money. Helped by a neutral zone infraction by the Packers on the previous play. WAIT! Trap. The nose of the football hit the ground after slipping through Graham's initial grasp.
And, as we wait...Greg Jennings is out for the rest of the game. Groin injury.
Ruling on the field stands? WHAT? I'm buying eyeglasses for every NFL referee. Mike McCarthy looked like John Belushi wearing the "COLLEGE" t-shirt with the quizzical look on his face.
Uh. Oh. Colston deep. Super wide open. No defender within five yards. 27 yard gain. Williams missed an assignment.
3rd-6 at GB 30: Brees deep and, what do you expect? Moore to the 11. Beat Williams, the Packers' best cover corner, with a physical near-push off that won't get called.
3rd-10 at GB 11: Brees up the middle. Sproles. But not a first down! Underneath throw was useless.
Flaggage on the first field goal attempt due to pushing and shoving after the play was held up, which leads to a first down at the one. That could be a four-point personal foul on Raji.
1st-goal at 1: Pierre Thomas stopped on a pass to the flat! Burnett with a great open-field tackle.
2nd-goal at 2: Brees overthrows Colston. A VERY rare incompletion.
Larry: "If they hold, that is one heck of a defensive effort."
3rd-goal at 2: Brees - BROKEN UP! WILLIAMS! That is huge. Do you dare go for it on 4th, New Orleans? Larry: "That was something special."
4:50 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :27
Get points. You need them in this one.
Handoff. Benson. Little. Get your beverages.
4:36 p.m. Saints' 2nd Drive 4:58
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 14
Brees-Sproles 6 yd TD pass
3rd-1 at NO 43: Sints. Moore. First down. Simple square out. Not covered at the point of the catch. Easy money.
Inside two minutes, Sproles gets a head of steam going downfield for 20 yards into the red zone after a block in the back that wasn't called, and according to Larry McCarren, isn't usually called.
No huddle time. Ugh.
1st-goal at GB 6: Sproles. Easy pickings. On a linebacker. No chance.
4:17 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 10:58
Green Bay 21, New Orleans 7
Rodgers-Jones 14 yd TD pass
So far, Brees and Rodgers: 23-29, 235 yds, 3 TDs so far. (Starting this drive, that is.)
Rodgers with a miraculous avoidance of a safety for a throw to Nelson who was ruled to have trapped a football at the first down marker.
WHOA! Replay, folks. Nelson had both feet down, perhaps, and had control before it slipped out of his hand as his knee came down. I think that's a first down catch.
AGAIN, the replay official was wrong. That's a catch. That's a first down. But this time, there's lots of time for the Packers to overcome the bad call.
3rd-12 at GB 6.5: Cobb, spin, in first down territory? When his spinning leap ended on the ground, his right hand was behind the first down marker. Sadly for Packers fans, a good call if the pinstriped guys call it no first down.
And the refs call it about a chain link away.
Punt...FAKE! Kuhn up the middle for four yards! Larry: "That takes some chutpah."
Fabulous cutback run by Benson off left guard, and an ankle tackle kept 7 yards from being about 17 or 27.
The Rodgers one-step may be a new dance for Dancing With The Stars. It leads to an easy first down catch by Cobb. Add 15 yards after Saints face-masking malfeasance.
Shovel. Benson. Red zone. Essentially an off-guard cutback run and a sprint to the first down marker. Goes in the passing stats, but that's all Benson.
Rodgers to Benson. A quarterback's best friend can be the open running back for a dump-off pass. It's how the Packers have avoided at least two sacks on this drive.
Nelson! That's possibly a touchdown if you hold onto the football. Very catchable. Forget the fact that a Saints defender had your jersey in his hand.
3rd-5 at NO 14: Jones. Beats Greer. Slant pattern. Money.
4:08 p.m. Saints' 1st Drive 14:15
3rd-7 at NO 31: Brees to Graham. Again, wide open. Even with six and seven defensive backs, he's running simple patterns and getting open.
Again, wide open receivers allowed by the Packers. Woodson made a mistake (possibly), jumping an outside route and letting Colston go free on a slant pattern. Very un-Woodson-like.
Williams was money on the coverage to Lance Moore. Perfectly-timed tomahawk of a pass on a slant pattern.
3rd-9 at GB 40: FINALLY, an incompletion. Pass to Colston deflected and incompleted.
4:02 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive continued from 1st quarter
Green Bay 14, New Orleans 7
Rodgers-Jennings 9 yd TD pass
1st-goal at NO 9: Jennings' 1st TD after injury. In between defenders. But unstoppable. Larry: "Aaron had all day."
3:53 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 3:33
3rd-6 at GB 24: ARod has forever, but finally has to scramble for a first down. He had just barely enough of an angle to get the first down.
Benson in the passing game. Short but meaningful gain. Packers should use more of it.
Saints are not blanketing Packers receivers, fearful of the deep ball.
Finley catch in the flat becomes a big first down gain. "Short on complexity, long on production with Finley breaking two tackles."
3:41 p.m. Saints' 2nd Drive 9:02
Green Bay 7, New Orleans 7
Brees-Colston 11 yd TD pass
3rd-2 at NO 28: Something the Packers typically don't like. Unless Clay Matthews tackles a white-shirted guy in the backfield again.
Brees with a dumpoff against a blitz and an easy pitch and catch. Easy pickin's.
Flaggage inside Packers territory: and it's holding. The type of call by a regular ref we typically don't see as much as we did with the replacement guys. By the way, I don't fault them for their effort. Don't despise them as people. Blame the league/union for having to have them there in the first place.
Graham. Wide. Open. 24 yards. Shades of 2011.
Graham. Wide. Open. 12 yards. Shades of 2011. Not a copy and paste.
Colston pushed off to make a catch in the end zone...Burnett to the ground. Real refs blew one. Irony, and sad.
3:33 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 11:06
Green Bay 7, New Orleans 0
Rodgers-Jones 12 yd TD pass
Rodgers. Nelson. Comeback pattern. 15 yards. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Rodgers. Finley. Stiff-arm. Saint fall down, go boom. 12 yards. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Rodgers. Nelson. Slant pattern. 19 yards. Clockwork. Resistance is useless. (Sense a pattern here?)
Rodgers. Play action. Finley. Dropped in the end zone. Finley's hands were the worst resistance.
Rodgers. Jones. Scramble. Jones open. Touchdown. Clockwork. Resistance is useless.
Not bad for the first 1st-quarter points of the season.
3:28 p.m. Saints' 1st Drive 12:42
3rd-1 at NO 34: No-huddle for Saints...and the Packers were totally ready for it! Claymaker stuffed Pierre Thomas. He jumped in the backfield and followed Thomas' footsteps before he reached the line of scrimmage.
3:25 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st Quarter
Cobb won't go 101 yards with the opening kickoff, unlike his 108 yard return in the second half of last year's game.
The first run wasn't much from Cedric Benson. The second was - five yards thanks to a Lang block creating a "seal" and an "alley" in Lombardi terms, NOT Merrill Hoge terms.
3rd-3 at GB 30: ARod gets Jones on a hook pattern that hooked too long...when Rodgers threw the ball, Jones was in first down territory. He was not when he caught the ball. Useless.
Wayne: "The regular refs are back." Larry: "Hopefully we won't be talking much about them."
Coin toss time: Packers captains Jones, Nelson, Raji.
Heads called...Tails is result. Packers win toss. They'll take the ball.
Head ref: "It's great to be back here." Crowd screams.
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy exclusively to Wayne Larrivee during Packers Gameday:
On the offensive struggles so far:
"We've got to exercise the game plan...we've addressed the things we didn't do as well as we've liked...stay focused. We've got to pick the tempo up. Good things are going to happen."
On the fact that injured players like Greg Jennings are coming back:
"I feel good about the health of our football team."
On the Saints' best unit, their explosive offense with Drew Brees and their special teams:
"Best offense we will face, no question...Darren Sproles is one of those dynamic players. We've got to be on the mark today."
Here's our inactives for today:
Packers: Boykin, House, Manning, Merling, Richardson, Starks, Williams. Saints: Casillas, Hawthorne, Harris, Ivory, Mack, McBride, Walker.
Meaningful importance from that? Greg Jennings is active. After the debacle against the Seahawks, the ability to go to a target like Greg Jennings quickly can slow down a pass rush and give Aaron Rodgers more time. Also, James Starks' presence deepens the backfield rotation if the Packers go ground-centric like they did in the 2nd half.
The recent journeys of the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints both involve huge controversy which brought them suffering, though in different time frames and with different levels of perceived fault.
They both carry the burdens of those embattlements to Lambeau Field as they each try to avoid a dreaded start in what may be as close to a must-win game in September as any in recent memory.
The Packers cannot be fairly blamed for the actions that led to the "Inaccurate Reception" call. After all, M.D. Jennings did his job during the final play of a 12-7 Packers victory that the referees and a replay official turned into a 14-12 loss. He intercepted the ball.
Green Bay became the most sympathetic tragic figure because of a referee's call in recent NFL memory.
There has not been much sympathy for the New Orleans Saints' plight since the "Bountygate" scandal came about, depending on who you believe.
A coaching carousel caused by the suspension of Sean Peyton, the wrangling over whether Jonathan Vilma and others would play, has certainly affected the Saints' season, and not for the positive.
All this has led to two teams attempting to avoid a horrific start.
The game may be decided by which team better takes the adversity in stride and gets back to a regular mentality - the mentally stronger team.
The Packers obviously have the shorter turnaround in that department - six days versus an entire off-season to swallow for the Saints.
But the Packers are known for their mental strength and will. We'll see if it shows up enough to get Green Bay back to .500.
(Oh, yeah, there's also that thing about the Packers giving up eight sacks in one half. That will have to change, too.)