The Green Bay Packers escaped with a 28-27 win over the New Orleans Saints, despite having to overcome a blown non-call on a fumble, a huge day by Drew Brees and an injury to Aaron Rodgers when the Packers were on the 4 yard line and backup QB Graham Harrell tripped and botched a handoff to Cedric Benson.
Those were the big plays in a game filled with them – and a game when the honeymoon with the return of the regular referees was short-lived.
For a recounting of every play of this game that will surely go down in Packers lore as one of the most exciting to take place in Lambeau Field, read on. It was a brutally intense day that tested the mettle and character of this team that was coming off the infamous “inaccurate reception” game in Seattle.
Saints kick off to Packers
Packers start the game going three and out. Pass to James Jones on third down and 3 goes for two
On the Saints first possession, pass to Marques Colston for five: Pierre Thomas goes for four and then Clay Matthews buries Thomas on third and one
Saints punt goes only 28 yards and Packers take over for second possession on own 38.
Packers first possession
On first down, Rodgers throws 15 yards to Jordy Nelson; Benson runs for five yards;
In the hurry-up offense, Rodgers hits Finley on a quick hitter to the sideline for 12 yards.
On second and 10 from 31, Rodgers in the shotgun hits Jordy Nelson with a laser over the middle for 17 yards down to the 12; first and 10 Rodgers hits Finley in the hands, but he juggles and drops it.
On second down, Rodgers scrambles left, stays on his feet after nearly being tripped up and throws a TD pass to James Jones in the left side of the end zone. On the extra point, Bryan Bulago holds and Mason Crosby hits a 30-yard extra point.
Packers kick off for touchback
Saints start at the 20 yard line with 9:02 in the first quarter.
Mark Ingram 3 yards; Darren Sproles takes quick hitter, makes a good move and pics up 6; On third and 2, Brees rolls right and hits Jimmie Graham for 5.
First and 10at 34, pass for five toTE David Thomas; pass to Lance Moore for 10 yards.
Brees has time to throw, but on first down the Saints are called for holding to move ball back to the 41.
Throw over the middle to Graham for 23 yards down to the Packers 36.
On second and 6, Graham again catches a first down pass down to the Packers 19.
A first down run by Thomas is snuffed out by Erik Walden who brings him down for a one yard loss; second and 11, Marques Colston pushes off on Morgan Burnett, but no flag thrown – touchdown Saints. That’s the 47th straight game that Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown, tying him with the late great Johnny Unitas.
Packers fans officially end love affair with regular referees.
Packers 7 Saints 7
Saints kick off – touchback, Packers take over at 20 yard line.
First and 10 for Packers, Incomplete pass; second and 10, Benson runs left for four yards; third and six, Rodger runs left for the first down – a seven yard gain to the 31.
Quick pass on first down to Randall Cobb for five yards; second and 5, Benson up the middle for seven yards; ball at 43, the Packers run a screen to Benson, but he gets just two yards; Second and 8, Rodgers hits Cobb for 10
First and 10 from the Saints 45; Pass to Finley for 20 yards as Rodgers spreads the ball around.
First and 10, Pass to Donald Driver for four yards.
End of first quarter – Packers 7 Saints 7
Packers with a second and 6 at the Saints 22 yard line; defense in the neutral zone. Second down and 2 – pass to Finley with his third catch (40 yards) for first down.
Bal at 9 yard line first and goal; Rodgers with all kinds of time hits Jennings in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown – it’s Jennings 50th career TD pass.
Extra point by Mason Crosby
Packers 14 Saints 7
Packers kick off – Sproles with a 31 yard return out to the 26
First and 10, Brees’s pass to Lance Moore is short of the mark to bring up second and 10. Pass to the left side to Pierre Thomas for three yards; third and 7, Brees to Graham for 10, first down
First and 10 Ingram for 2 yards; from the 42, Colston hauls in 17 yard pass from Brees for first down.
Ball at the Packers 41, hand off to Thomas and he get stoned by A.J. Hawk; second and 10, quick pass attempt to Moore is knocked down by Tramon Williams on a textbook coverage play; third and 9, pass is broken up on good Packers defense.
Saints punt to nine yard line; Cobb fair catch.
Packers get ball back, but lack of a pass rush and zone defense is somewhat of a concern. Brees has been known to pick defenses apart.
Packers at the 8, Benson off left tackle for 4 yards, and on second down a flag for illegal use of hands by Josh Sitton pushes Packers back to the 6; second and 12, Rodgers is pressured out of the pocket to the right and hits Nelson on the sideline for an apparent first down, but it’s called incomplete as Nelson doesn’t maintain control of the ball all the way through the play; Packers head coach Mike McCarthy challenges the call, but loses the timeout when the referees confirm call.
Third and 12 from the 6, pass to Cobb is complete and he leaps for it, but comes up inches short. Packers have to punt.
Packers fake punt, snap it to John Kuhn and he runs for first down
On first down from the 22, Benson runs for 3 yards off left tackle; Rodgers rolls right and throws down right sideline to Nelson; defensive back caught holding.
First down at the 30, Benson pushes the pile for five; Benson again up the middle for six more – he’s tripped up in the open field.
first and 10 from the 42; Benson runs right for four; Quick pass to Cobb for first down with face mask penalty and 15 yards added.
From the Saints 30, shovel pass to Benson for 10 yards and a first down as he breaks tackles and runs hard.
Ball at the 19, Rodgers hits Benson on the checkdown for five yards; on second and five, Nelson drops a Rodgers fastball over the middle; third and 5, Rodgers hits James Jones for a touchdown, his second of the game to give the Packers a 21-7 lead. Rodgers is pumped and gives the belt for the first time this year.
Packers 21 Saints 7
Packers kick off – touchback.
Saints start at the 20, Brees to Colston for 14 and first down; first and 10 at the 39, pass incomplete to Moore, but penalty on the Saints; first and 15, pass to Devry Henderson for 10; Second and five from the 39 Brees hits Sproles for four; third and 1 and the Saints take first time out – quick pass to Moore for 2 yards.
First and 10, Ingram for 2; second and 8, Packers offside. On second and three Woodson knifes through to stop Thomas at the 2-minute warning.
Third and 1 for the Saints, pass to Graham for first down to the Packers 40; Drew Brees throws incomplete; second and 10, screen to Sproles for 20 yards down to the Packers 20; first and 10; pass to Moore to the Packers 11; pass to Colston to the Packers 6 …
Time out Saints with 33 seconds left
Pass to Sproles for the touchdown; Brees was 9-10 on the drive for 77 yards
Packers 21 Saints 14
Saints kick off and Cobb returns it to the 25
Benson runs out the clock with a one yard run.
First and 10 from the nine yard line, Brees throws it away; second and 10, ball tipped and inc., Burnett and Williams fight for it and it falls to the ground;
Green Bay 7-0
Green Bay 14-7
Green Bay 21-7
Green Bay 21-14
Green Bay 21-17
New Orleans 24-21
Green Bay 21-17
New Orleans 24-21