It was a shootout, and it's probably fitting that the Green Bay Packers victory over the Saints came down to the final play. With no time left on the clock after a defensive penalty in the end zone and the ball on the Packers one yard line, they stuffed RB Mark Ingram for no gain. Game over.
Obviously several things didn't go right if the Saints managed to score 34 points. Saints RB Darren Sproles had a huge game with 57 yard kickoff return that led to a touchdown, and a 72 yard punt return for another touchdown. The cornerbacks let the Saints receivers get past them when they had no deep safety help for touchdown passes of 29 and 31 yards, respectively.
On an injury note, it looks like CB Tramon Williams left the game holding his right arm and it could be serious.
In the end, the good outweighed the bad. The Packers defensive line, primarily NT B.J. Raji and DE Jarius Wynn, but also a great goal line push by DE Ryan Pickett at the end of the game, forced the Saints to settle for field goals, and helped them stop a 4th down conversion attempt at the Packers 6 yard line (and on the game ending play too).
The special teams unit had one shining moment, a 108 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by WR Randall Cobb, but this was the offense's night.
QB Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect going 27 of 35 for 312 yards and 3 TD passes. He completed passes to nine different receivers, and targeted WR Greg Jennings and WR Jordy Nelson 8 times each. They finished the game as their top two receivers. After a big first half from Cobb and TE Jermichael Finley on offense, both players were quiet in the second. They barely ran the ball in the first half, but they ran it strong in the second behind RB Ryan Grant (and mostly RB James Starks). Although FB John Kuhn only had two carries, one went for a first down and the other for a touchdown. Maybe the most important stat of the night was zero turnovers.
The offensive line had a great game too, as Saints NT Shaun Rogers looked done and NT Aubrayo Franklin appeared as if his injured knee is still bothering him. They pushed the Saints defensive line around, and LG T.J. Lang, C Scott Wells, and RT Josh Sitton all did a great job at pursuing into the second level to take out a second defender or a linebacker. The final tally gave the Saints 2 sacks and 5 QB hits, but Rodgers's protection was very good for most of the game and they gave he had time to throw.
For more on this game from the Saints perspective, check out Canal Street Chronicles.
Also, A Sea Of Blue on Cobb's first two professional touchdowns.