Packers Send Saints Marching Home...BarelyPosted:Oct 1st, 2012 12:46 am
Is this week over yet? In a game that featured nearly as much drama as last Monday's game, including a pair of big calls in the final minutes, the Packers escaped with a one-point win over the Saints. To say it salvaged the season might be a bit of a stretch--but not by much.
Everything changed when the Graham Harrell era made its debut late in the third quarter. With the Pack inside the 10 and Rodgers knocked out for a play after getting hit in the face, Harell tripped over a lineman causing a fumble and initiating a 14-point swing. Rather than a Packer touchdown and an 11-point lead, Brees took over and caught Sam Shields napping. The result: an 80 yard touchdown to "Chicken Wing" Joe Morgan and their first lead of the game.
The Packers' last scoring drive was efficient, with McCarthy mixing runs and passes. Benson finished with more than 80 yards on the ground. Nelson fought hard for the score and the Pack edged ahead 28-27. With Jennings knocked out of the game at halftime, Cobb and Driver got more snaps. Cobb played the Sproles role to a tee and the receiving hero was James Jones, who had one of his "on" game--catching everything thrown his way. His last one, which iced it, was a thing of beauty, hanging on despite being interfered with.
Much will be made of the 446 yards the Packers defense surrendered through the air. After entering the game as the league's #1 pass defense, the Pack was torched by Brees, who entered this game with his season on the line. The Saints are 0-4, but Brees did all he could...consistently converting third downs for most of the game. The Pack's D finally stiffened a bit late, forcing the last field goal attempt. They caught a break when referee Jeff Triplette called holding on the 43 yard attempt. It's not always called, but Sam Shields was clearly held.
The officiating was far from perfect, but the game ran much more smoothly than we've seen before this week. Marques Colston got away with a push off on the Saints' first score of the game. And the officials missed Sproles' fumble on the late kickoff. With McCarthy out of challenges, there was nothing he could do. It was clear Dezman Moses popped the ball loose, and it looked like he recovered as well. Had McCarthy not wasted an early challenge on a Jordy Nelson drop, things might have gone differently. The Packers finished the game minus two in the turnover category, but somehow escaped with a win. There were a couple of near interceptions by Green Bay, but right now the ball just doesn't seem to be bouncing their way.
We'll wait to hear the injury report, but Jennings and Pickett were unable to finish the game and may not be able to go in Indianapolis next week. It's the beginning of a three game road trip and the Colts will come in healthier, with two weeks to get ready.
For now, the Pack did what they had to do. They moved on from the sleepless night in Seattle and took care of business at home--barely. The Pack is 2-2, the offense looks like it's coming together and the young defense is still a work in progress. The good news: there isn't another Drew Brees on the schedule this season.