The Saints were back in the dome this week to face the Green Bay Packers. The Packers (2-0) were coming off the back of a big win last week against the Detroit Lions (42-21) while the Saints were coming into the game off the back of a 34-24 defeat at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders. This was billed as the battle of the HOF’s with Drew Brees facing off against one of the top quarterbacks of the last 15-20 years and master of the long pass (Or the hope for the best launch) in Aaron Rodgers. It was set up to be a tough game, both sides fancy a run at the Super Bowl this year and with both sides predicted for a high NFC seeding the head to head result may just prove vital at the end of the season for playoff advantages. I am not normally nervous before games but this one felt different, it was an important game not just for the result but for the Saints fans who wanted to see a marked improvement from their side after last week.
So it was that time again, a late-night kick off and a strong drink at hand. … oh and my inhaler.........always handy.
The Saints began the night running the ball, something us fans have been crying out for, and it was working well early on wit Kamara looking back to his old self, which would be key if the Saints were to have any hopes of winning. After the first sack of the night on Rodgers from Demario Davis it was Green Bay who would add the first points of the game after going 3 and out, with Mason Crosby converting at 52-yard field goal. (3-0 GB). The Saints replied 3 minutes later with Kamara completing a blitzing run to put the Saints on Green Bay’s 18-yard line. The next play resulting in a touchdown for Kamara after Brees found him in the pocket to run the ball in from 8 yards with a great reach out to the goal line after being tackled just short. With 1.15 left on the clock in the first quarter Rodgers took off on foot on 3rd and 12 to put the Packers in field goal range again, Crosby making it 2/2 for the night. (7-6 Saints). The run game was working brilliantly for the Saints in the first half and it was evident they were using it as their main tactic, racking up 12 carries for 104 yards, they would go onto complete 20 for 122 yards before the end of game, showing a big change in game plan second half…why would you change something that is working so well I hear you cry… your guess is a good as mine. Kamara was a constant threat and would be targeted 13 times by Brees and finishing on 13 receptions for 139 yards, very impressive indeed for a running back. In the absence of Michael Thomas, I expected one of our other receivers to step up to fill the void but Kamara was doing that job more than capably.
The second quarter continued with Aaron Rodgers throwing an absolute dime of a pass to Lazard (6 for 146 yards, 1 TD) putting the Packers in striking distance of a touchdown. Rodgers would again find Lazard for the Touchdown (13-7 GB). The Saints offence were doing ok so far but it was the defence that seemed to be at the forefront of the blame for being behind. Penalties were a big issue all night, some were soft but again some were totally avoidable, and the Saints only have themselves to blame. Rodgers would take full advantage of a quiet dome teasing the Saints defensive line with fake calls to push them into running offside, the defence would go on to concede 8 penalties for 83 yards. The Saints defence were also leaving far too much space to run into. As I say there were a few questionable calls to put it mildly but all in all they should not be happening this much, and it kills us every time. The offence meanwhile were trying to get the Saints back into the game but would have to settle for a field goal on their next scoring drive after another great run by Kamara put them in range. Will Lutz converting from 45 yards. (13-10 GB). Kamara would again be the target for Brees on the next drive weaving his way thru the Packers defence brilliantly to give Brees a shot at the end zone and boy did he take that shot finding Sanders (4 for 56 1 TD) with a bullet of a pass to put the Saints up 17-13.
The third quarter began with Rodgers finding Lazard deep in the Saints secondary for a great catch and run setting up another touchdown drive with Aaron Jones running the ball in from 1 yard on 4th and goal. (20-17 GB). The Saints added a field goal with 6 minutes of the third quarter left to make it 20-20. Rodgers then found Mercedes Lewis with a cheeky pass over the head of Jenkins who tried not to touch Lewis and have a PI called on him allowing him to catch, turn and take it over the line. It looked like Lewis had pushed Jenkins off him to gain an advantage, but it was not given and the touchdown stood. (27-20 GB).
Kamara would go on a another great run just before the end of the third quarter with the help of superman Mc Coy who provided some outstanding blocking way up the field, Kamara would go on to take it all the way for a Saints Touchdown, he was on fire tonight and was by far the Saints best offensive threat. The scores were level going into the 4th and final quarter (27-27). Up till this point it was anyone’s game but then the momentum swung in favour of Green Bay as Taysom Hill coming in at quarterback failed to release the ball for Murray which he subsequently fumbled forcing a turnover. This was a massive play and it gave the Packers just what they needed. Green Bay would go onto score a field goal and then a touchdown in successive drives after the fumble. The game just needed one major error to swing momentum and they got it. Green Bay took the win 37-30 and the Saints moved onto 1-2 whilst the Packers continued their perfect start moving to 3-0.
There were positives to take with Kamara in great form and looking back to his old self, Drew (29/36 for 288 yards, 3 TD) getting back to some normality after last week and the fact there is a long way to go and we can only improve and have time to work on the negatives….and 3rd down play calls! To do that we need to stop deep passes better, Cam Jordon needs to show up, Kamara needs to stay injury free and we need to eliminate silly penalties. If we do this then we are still in with a shot of the golden prize. It was tough loss to take as I thought it was close throughout, we just made too many errors.
Chin up you could be a Falcons fan today…..LOL!!
Until Next time, stay safe.