Folks, we’ve made it to Week 3. The Green Bay Packers are 1-1, and preparing to face off against the 2-0 New Orleans Saints in what will be the first game at Lambeau Field this season. The last time the Packers opened at home later than Week 2 was back in 2016, when they defeated the Detroit Lions 34-27 in Week 3. In a season which looks like the Packers will be searching for their identity with a new QB at the helm, will this be an opener to remember? Let’s look at some recent, notable opening day games at Lambeau Field.
2020: The Covid Opener
In Week 2 of the 2020 season, for what I believe was the first time, the Packers played a home game with no fans in the stands. There was crowd noise being pumped into the stadium, but it was still eerily quiet as Aaron Jones had the best performance of his career. Rushing for a career-high 168 yards, he finished the day with 236 total yards and three touchdowns. The Packers went on to defeat the Detroit Lions 42-21.
2019: The Beginning of the Matt LaFleur Era
The Packers had moved on from longtime HC Mike McCarthy the season prior, and made a bit of a surprise hire with Matt LaFleur, who had never been an NFL head coach before. After a snooze-fest of a 10-3 victory in the season opener in Chicago, the Packers faced off against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2, and ended up winning 21-16 in a game which was 21-0 at one point. This season would be the beginning of three straight 13-win seasons for the team.
2018: The Comeback Win
There’s just something about opening the season against Chicago that makes me very warm. For much of the Week 1 game in 2018, we were all very warm. With rage. The Bears were up 10-0 in the 2nd quarter when Aaron Rodgers was sacked by Roy Robertson-Harris, and didn’t get back up. In that moment, the entire season flashed before the eyes of Packers fans. We had seen him break his collarbone twice previously, derailing the team’s season, and it was happening again. Suddenly it was 17-0 at halftime. Miraculously, Aaron Rodgers was back in the game to start the second half, but the team only managed to put up 3 points in the 3rd quarter. Then...it happened. Down 20-3 in the 4th quarter, Geronimo Allison and Davante Adams both scored to bring the Bears’ lead down to one possession. With 2:39 left on the clock, Bears K Cody Parkey hit a 32-yard FG, and the Packers were left to make do with what little time they had left. Make do, they did. Randall Cobb, 75-yard touchdown. Game over.
Today marks 75 days until the 2021 NFL Season Starts! Let’s remember when the #Packers came back from a 20 point deficit and took the lead with this 75 yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb against the Bears back in 2018. Packers win, 24-23. pic.twitter.com/AgQtToqdXb— r/GreenBayPackers (@redditPackers) June 26, 2021
2015: The Redemption Game
For the three games prior to this 2015 Week 2 matchup, the Seattle Seahawks had the Packers’ number. This same calendar year, eight months prior, the Packers lost to the Seahawks in a heartbreaking playoff game in OT. The team came out swinging to start this latest matchup, however, leading 13-3 at halftime. The Seahawks ended up coming back, even taking the lead at one point, but the Packers scored 14 unanswered points, and finally beat one of their biggest rivals at the time, 27-17. This also marked James Jones’ return to Lambeau Field as a Packer once again, after a season with the Raiders and some time with the Giants.
Good evening Mr. Rodgers. pic.twitter.com/Y50VLucBgS— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 21, 2015
2011: The Fun Era
Fresh off of their first Super Bowl win in 14 years, the Packers brought back just about every contributing player, and looked to be legitimate contenders to run it back for another season. This season was also the last time the Packers opened at home against the New Orleans Saints, in a game the Packers would go on to win 42-34. Newcomer Randall Cobb became the first player born in the 1990s to score an NFL touchdown, in what ended up being one of the best debut games we’ve ever seen from a Packers rookie. He tied the NFL record at the time for longest kickoff return, which also ended up being voted Play of the Year at the NFL Honors. This season, the Packers ended up going 13-0 to start the season, and finished 15-1 before a playoff loss we will not talk about. What a fun team to watch.