After an offensive shootout in the first half, the New Orleans Saints pulled away in the third quarter with a real team effort that included three interceptions, Deuce McAllister breaking the franchise record for rushing touchdowns, and their explosive passing game.
This was an important game for two teams trying to reach the playoffs. Coming into the game, both teams had even records after 10 games but had not broken .500. However, the Green Bay Packers are more competitive in the NFC North while the Saints will need some help to catch up to their division rivals in the NFC South.
This was also a special victory for New Orleans who has been trying to put together two wins all season and to show that the team has more going for them than just the record-setting season of Drew Brees.
Saints QB Drew Brees had his eighth 300+ yard game of the season, throwing for four touchdowns. Brees finished the night with 20 out of 26 passes completed, 323 yards, and no interceptions. He has the most yards of any quarterback through 11 games (3,574) and is on pace to break several league records this season, including the most yards (Dan Marino’s 1984 record is 5,084 yards) and most 300+ yard passing games in a season (the record is 10).
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was 23 for 41 with 248 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs.
The Green Bay Packers scored first with a one-yard leap into the end zone by FB John Kuhn. The Saints answered back quickly with a short pass to WR Lance Moore from the New Orleans 30 who ran the remaining yards in the end zone, a 70-yard play that left the much-vaunted Packers secondary looking outmatched. The Saints scored again in the first quarter RB Pierre Thomas ran 4 yards in for a touchdown on short drive that began from the Packers 41 yard line after the ball was punted out of bounds.
Green Bay tied the score at 14 early in the second quarter with a short pass to WR Greg Jennings that went 7 yards and into the end zone. New Orleans then drove down the field and found Lance Moore again for his second touchdown, this time a short pass that went for 14 yards. The Packers tied the score again when Rodgers scrambled into the end zone from the 10 yard line, leaving a little less than two minutes in the first half.
On the ensuing kick, Saints WR Courtney Roby caught the ball from the 6 yard line and ran the ball 62 yards to start the drive at the Packers 32. The Saints managed to get to the 12 and rookie Garrett Hartley kicked a 30-yard field goal to continue his streak since his debut with the Saints. The Saints led at halftime 24 to 21 but it looked like the outcome would be decided by who had the ball last.
But, oh, the third quarter!
New Orleans began with a long drive of 13 plays that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown to TE Billy Miller. On Green Bay’s second play after getting the ball back, fan “favorite” CB Jason David intercepted a pass meant for Jennings at the Packers 43 yard line and ran the ball back all the way to the three before getting pushed out of bounds.
After an incomplete pass to Lance Moore, Brees handed the ball off to RB Deuce McAllister who ran the three yards in for his 54th rushing touchdown. Last week, McAllister tied the franchise record for rushing touchdowns and with an expected suspension by the league for violating the substance abuse policy, two years of season-ending injuries, and a high cap number next season, there has been much speculation that this would be his last game as a Saint. Coach Payton was the first to greet McAllister from the sidelines after the score, embracing him and apparently telling him how valued he was to the team.
With seven and a half minutes left in the third quarter, Green Bay tried to make up the 17-point deficit. On the third play of the possession, Rodgers’ pass to WR Jordy Nelson was intercepted again by Jason David at Green Bay’s 29 yard line. Coach Payton trotted out another one of his trick plays by having Brees throw to Lance Moore who then threw to Pierre Thomas but this was the Packer’s turn to make an interception. Green Bay could not capitalize on the turnover as the New Orleans defense stepped up and made them go three and out.
With a little under four minutes to go in the third, Brees then threw a deep pass to WR Marques Colston for a 70-yard touchdown that made the score New Orleans 45, Green Bay 21.
Green Bay settled in for a long drive that ate up the rest of the third quarter and gave them some points when Rodgers hit WR Ruvell Martin for a four-yard touchdown pass. The Packers then went for two and made it with another pass to Martin.
The Packers onside kick was not successful however and the Saints scored for the final time with a 31-yard touchdown run by Pierre Thomas, making him the second Saints player with two touchdowns in the game. The Saints went for the two-point conversion with a rush by McAllister but failed when he slipped.
Saints LB Kevin Kaesviharn intercepted Rodgers for the third time when he caught a pass in the end zone meant for Nelson late in the fourth quarter.
Pierre Thomas had 87 yards rushing for the Saints. Lance Moore led all receivers with 115 yards, followed by Marques Colston with 70, and TE Jeremy Shockey with 57 yards.
Packers RB Ryan Grant had 67 yards, 64 in the first half. Greg Jennings had 101 yards.
CB Randall Gay and rookie DT Sedrick Ellis both had a sack in the game.
Some interesting notes from the game: Saints Coach Sean Payton did not throw a challenge flag. Second-string QB Mark Brunell came in after the second touchdown by Pierre Thomas but did not throw a pass. The Saints had only two penalties for a total of 10 yards. This was the Saints fourth game without RB Reggie Bush who injured his knee against Carolina.