Saints Didn’t Have a Prayer

Posted: September 13, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers opened up the 2011 NFL season against the New Orleans Saints last Thursday and it pinned two of the best offenses in the game against one another. The Packers got the ball first and went 76 yards downfield in 9 plays to score on a 7 yard TD pass from Rodgers to Jennings. It seemed as if the Packers never left SBXLV and they went on to score in their next two drives as well. The Packers had jumped to a 21-7 lead before the end of the first quarter.

Rookie WR Randall Cobb caught Rodgers’ third TD pass of the game when the speedster shook through a tackle and ran into the end-zone from 32 yards out. When Head Coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Cobb he said the WR is “very raw, he’s picking up our system, but he knows what to do when he gets the football in his hands and he knows how to get open. He’s a gifted young man with a lot of good football in front of him.” The young Kentucky stand-out wasn’t finished adding a NFL record tying 108 yard kick return for a TD in the middle of the third quarter. Aaron Rodgers thought that Cobb “did a great job. Its exciting watching him with the ball in his hands. The kickoff return was incredible. The catch and run, he actually ran the wrong route but I was able to read him, surprisingly. “

The Packers added a TD run by RBs James Starks and John Kuhn throughout the game and the New Orleans Saints never saw the lead in the entire game. The Packers finished with a 42-34 victory while Rodgers finished 27/35 for 312 yards and the 3 first quarter TD passes. He mixed the ball up extremely well hitting 9 different receivers but his favorite targets were WRs Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson who were targeted 16 times and had 13 receptions, 165 yards and 2 TDs. Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins gave credit where credit was due explaining that he and the Saints “knew coming into it that [Rodgers] would make some plays. A lot of those were just some great throws into tight coverage. We just have to live with that. We tried to adjust to those back shoulder throws, but they earned those plays”.

The SBXLV MVP had been getting a lot of flak about not organizing any lockout workouts with his team and he let his feelings be heard after the game. A-Rodge coordinated the post-game press conference answering questions and asking them as well, saying “It was a good start for us. I’ve just got to ask myself, “What would have happened if we had offseason workouts? Could we have started any faster and scored more points tonight?” WR Jordy Nelson added “we put our work in. A lot of people were worried about the offseason workouts we [didn’t have], but apparently we were all right. . . I think a lot of the core coming back after the Super Bowl helps and we came in grinding, and got ready to play this opening week”.

The game however did get a little too close for comfort when the Saints had stormed downfield in the last few seconds of the game and had an opportunity to score a TD and convert a two point conversion to tie the game and head into overtime. Packers LB A.J. Hawk was called for pass interference on RB Darren Sproles in the end-zone and the Saints were given first and goal from the one yard line with :00’s on the game clock. Luckily the Saints took the ball out of their QBs hands and handed it off to Rookie RB Mark Ingram who was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage to end the game.

Hawk was asked what happened after the game and he explained that “ I was just trying to jump over him and I think I kind of did, but obviously I didn’t” but he knew that his defense would step up at the 1 yard line. “The goal-line defense, that’s team defense there. I know Clay was probably the first to hit him, but I think our defensive line did an awesome job. . . [Desmond] Bishop and I were free to go over the top and create piles. That’s what you have to do is create a pile and have guys knocking him back. That’s what happened, and our defensive line did that a bunch tonight”. Hawk and the Packers defense only allowed 81 yards on 21 carries to Saints RBs but if you take away Pierre Thomas’ 21 yard run they gave up just 60 yards on 20 carries.

The Packers defense looked suspect at times but they were playing an explosive offense with one of the best QBs in the game. CB Charles Woodson thought that the defense “made the plays we needed to win. We made a stance late in the game with a chance for them to tie it and getting off the field, but [allowed] way too many points and [had] way too many missed tackles, and [gave up] way too many yards. I’m happy with the win, no doubt about it, but that’s not the way we like to perform”.

The Pack gave up 419 yards and 3 TDs to Drew Brees but after the game the Saints QB admitted that “I think the biggest stat for us that is disappointing is our red-zone efficiency. , , scoring touchdowns only one out of five times in the red-zone. That’s not going to win you a lot of games, especially on the road in this type of environment against this team”. That one red-zone TD was a 5 yard pass to TE Jimmy Graham with 2:15 left in the game.

The biggest scare for the Green Bay Packers was when CB Tramon Williams walked off the field holding his right arm in place against his body. The Packers stud was diagnosed with a bruised shoulder after the game but many were worried that it could have been a more serious injury. It is not known whether or not the Packers CB will play next week in Carolina but Jarrett Bush and Sam Shields have been great back-ups who could step in and play more snaps for a week or two.

The Packers win against the Saints was the fifth straight season opening win for Green Bay, which was accomplished just once from 1980-84 before now. HC McCarthy became the first HC in franchise history to win five consecutive season openers and the Packers are the only NFC team to have done so but the Patriots win on Monday night makes New England the only other team to accomplish such a feat. The Packers have won 6 straight games at Lambeau Field and 12 of the last 13 and improves their record to 27-8 in the last 35 regular season games at the ‘Beau. There is no better team in the NFC at home over the same period of time. Green Bay is heading to Carolina for the first time since 2005 and will face a Rookie QB who threw for over 400 yards in his first appearance, an NFL record and may do so without some key players.

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