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New Orleans at Green Bay

Goal-line stand preserves Packers' win over Saints

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A Super Bowl hangover and the NFL lockout weren't about to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The New Orleans Saints just couldn't keep up.

Rodgers came out on top in a memorable opening-night duel with Drew Brees, and the Packers made a goal-line stand on the final play of the game to beat the Saints 42-34 on Thursday night.

With the Saints on the 1-yard line, Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett led a swarm of Packers defenders who stopped Saints rookie running back Mark Ingram short of the goal line.

"It's not what you envision," Matthews said. "Obviously, you'd love to have a blowout, but I think it represents everything that we preach, which is finishing games. And it comes down to the very last play -- we win, or they have an opportunity to tie it up. I think it's fantastic to overcome that adversity, get the stop that we needed and get off the field with the victory."

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Rodgers and Brees had big games, but Packers rookie Randall Cobb stole the show.

Cobb, a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, caught a touchdown from Rodgers and ran a kickoff back 108 yards for a score in the third quarter -- tying an NFL record for the longest kickoff return in history.

In the wake of a rules change designed to promote touchbacks, Cobb just decided to run one back from deep in the end zone.

"It was amazing," Cobb said. "The feeling of being in Lambeau Field and just having all of the guys around me coming off of the Super Bowl and just trying to do anything I can to contribute, and I certainly tried to make the most of my opportunities tonight."

Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

"It's a good night for us," Rodgers said. "I felt good about the way that I was throwing the ball. Missed a couple I probably could have hit."

Brees threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns, including a late touchdown to Jimmy Graham that cut the lead to 8 with 2:15 left.

After a Green Bay punt, Brees marched the Saints to the Packers 9-yard line and spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. Green Bay's A.J. Hawk was called for pass interference and the ball was placed at the 1.

Led by Matthews and Burnett, the Packers defense swarmed Saints first-round rookie running back Mark Ingram short of the goal line and the game was over.

CBSSports.com Grades
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
B-
They gave up 21 first-quarter points and nearly 400 yards of total offense to the Packers, but they came within inches of potentially sending the game to overtime on the final play. QB Drew Brees was in midseason form, perhaps due to the offseason workouts he organized, and their receivers are for real. Besides the feeble defensive effort, the offensive line gave up three sacks.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
B+
The defending Super Bowl champs showed why they are such, as QB Aaron Rodgers led the explosive offense to 28 first-half points. But as the defending champs, the Packers also left a bit to be desired, defensively, giving up 477 yards to the Saints. If the offense keeps dominating, though, the defense can be 'B' quality all year and the Packers will still win.
By James Carlton
RapidReports Correspondent

"You've got to get a yard," Ingram said. "It's goal line to win the game, got to get a yard."

It was a big night for Donald Driver, who tied James Lofton's Packers franchise mark for career yards receiving with 9,656.

Rodgers wanted to get him the record at home.

"We tried to get him the ball again, we just didn't have an opportunity," Rodgers said.

The Packers' most impressive scoring play of the night came courtesy of Cobb, who fielded the ball deep in the Packers' end zone in the third quarter but took it out anyway. Cobb spun off a tackling attempt by the Saints' Leigh Torrence, put his right hand down to keep his balance, then rambled to the end zone.

Cobb's 108-yard return tied an NFL record set by New England's Ellis Hobbs in September 2007. It also was the Packers' first kickoff return for a touchdown since Allen Rossum in 2000.

Cobb's big return gave the Packers a 35-20 lead, but the game wasn't over. Darren Sproles answered with a long kickoff return of his own, and Brees drove the Saints for a 29-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson.

The Saints forced a punt and marched to the Packers' 7-yard line, but failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt and gave the ball back to the Packers.

Green Bay drove again, and Rodgers handed the ball to John Kuhn on third-and-goal for a 1-yard touchdown and a 42-27 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Packers' defensive struggles made for some nervous late moments, but they came through when they had to.

If Thursday's game was a referendum on the importance of player-led team workouts during the lockout, the results are in: The workouts Brees organized over the summer weren't enough to help the Saints take down the champions, and the Packers' decision not to get together as a team certainly didn't seem to hurt them.

"That was a good start for us," Rodgers joked. "But I've just got to ask myself, `What would have happened if we had had offseason workouts?"'

For the NFL, Thursday's opener was a chance to stamp out any lingering memories of a tumultuous offseason filled with tense and ugly -- but ultimately successful -- labor negotiations.

With a massive stage engulfing a portion of the Lambeau Field parking lot for a pregame concert, Thursday night certainly felt like a big game had come to the NFL's smallest market. Going into the game, Greg Jennings compared it to a "mini Super Bowl."

But there wasn't anything small about the Packers' performance, proving once again that they were ready for the bright lights and a tough opponent.

Notes

  • Packers DB Charles Woodson earned a 15-yard penalty in the third quarter, and admitted he threw a punch at a Saints player. Woodson wasn't ejected. "Yeah, I threw a punch," Woodson said. "Just got frustrated, the guy was holding me a little longer than I wanted. Nothing was said about it, referee-wise, quick enough, and I reacted. It is what it is, I guess."
  • Packers S Nick Collins appeared to hurt his left arm but stayed in the game.
  • Packers CB Tramon Williams went down after taking a hard hit on the right shoulder in the fourth quarter.
  • Saints WR Lance Moore sat out because of a groin injury.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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The Packers defense swarms to the ball to stuff Saints rookie Mark Ingram at the 1-yard line with no time left on the clock.  (US Presswire)
The Packers defense swarms to the ball to stuff Saints rookie Mark Ingram at the 1-yard line with no time left on the clock. (US Presswire)

 

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Thurs. Sept. 8Final
71010734
2177742
SaintsPackers
Pass: D. Brees (32-49, 419) A. Rodgers (27-35, 312)
Rush: M. Ingram (13-40) J. Starks (12-57)
Rec: D. Henderson (6-100) G. Jennings (7-89)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDGreg Jennings, 7 Yd pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick is good), 10:08. Drive: 9 plays, 76 yards in 4:52.
TDJordy Nelson, 3 Yd pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick is good), 6:24. Drive: 6 plays, 36 yards in 3:05.
TDRobert Meachem, 31 Yd pass from Drew Brees (John Kasay kick is good), 3:31. Drive: 6 plays, 80 yards in 2:53.
TDRandall Cobb, 32 Yd pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick is good), 0:11. Drive: 6 plays, 80 yards in 3:20.
2ND QUARTER
FGJohn Kasay, 30 Yd, 9:44. Drive: 14 plays, 71 yards in 5:27.
TDDarren Sproles, 72 Yd punt return (John Kasay kick is good), 8:37.
TDJames Starks, 17 Yd run (Mason Crosby kick is good), 1:59. Drive: 14 plays, 80 yards in 6:38.
3RD QUARTER
FGJohn Kasay, 38 Yd, 8:40. Drive: 14 plays, 60 yards in 6:20.
TDRandall Cobb, 108 Yd kick return (Mason Crosby kick is good), 8:26.
TDDevery Henderson, 29 Yd pass from Drew Brees (John Kasay kick is good), 6:54. Drive: 3 plays, 46 yards in 1:32.
4TH QUARTER
TDJohn Kuhn, 1 Yd run (Mason Crosby kick is good), 11:50. Drive: 12 plays, 93 yards in 6:12.
TDJimmy Graham, 5 Yd pass from Drew Brees (John Kasay kick is good), 2:15. Drive: 12 plays, 76 yards in 3:20.
Players of the Game
Green Bay

A. Rodgers
Att 35
Comp 27
Yds 312
TD 3
New Orleans

D. Brees
Att 49
Comp 32
Yds 419
TD 3
 
New Orleans
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
D. Brees32/4941930
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Ingram134009
P. Thomas531021
D. Sproles2707
D. Brees1303
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Henderson6100129
M. Colston681023
D. Sproles775036
R. Meachem570131
J. Graham456121
P. Thomas437015
Green Bay
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
A. Rodgers27/3531230
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Starks1257117
R. Grant940010
J. Kuhn2514
A. Rodgers4102
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
G. Jennings789122
J. Nelson677136
J. Finley353020
D. Driver441016
R. Cobb235132
J. Kuhn2707
R. Grant1505
T. Crabtree1404
J. Jones1101
Complete Player Stats
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