It may not have been pretty, but the Green Bay Packers (2-2) got a much needed 28-27 victory over the struggling New Orleans Saints (0-4). The come from behind win, complete with a go-ahead touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson, was exactly what the Packers needed. Rodgers went on to throw for 319 yards with four touchdown passes.
The game easily could have gone the other way around. While the Packers went into halftime with the momentum and the lead, the moment changed on one play in the first quarter. Early in the quarter, Rodgers and crew were threatening to score. Near the goal line, Rodgers rolled out right to look for a receiver. Instead, he received a poke in the eye from Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The play resulted in a penalty, which helped the Packers get within striking distance of the goal line. Unfortunately, the Packers offense was going to have to try and score without their best players. As a result of the injury, Rodgers was forced to leave the field to get his eye examined.
For the next minute, Packer fans got a sneak preview of a life without Aaron Rodgers. It took them all but seconds to realize it’s not a life they ever want to experience again. With Rodgers out, Graham Harrell was forced to take center stage and lead the Packers to a touchdown. That, clearly, was easier said than done. Harrell tripped on the heel of Jeff Saturday and botched the handoff to leading rusher Cedric Benson. After Benson fumbled and the Saints recovered, Drew Brees threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Morgan, taking a 24-21 lead.
When Rodgers came back in the game, things did not get better. Within minutes of the drive, he threw an interception to cornerback Patrick Robinson. The intended receiver was the night favorite Jordy Nelson.
The much-needed win came after the Packers week of turmoil. After being thrown into the middle of the replacement ref controversy, it could not have been a better time for the come-from-behind win. The fact that the Packers were in that position, for the second week in a row, should be scary for most people. The Packers lost their momentum on a single play and did not regain it until late in the fourth quarter. Rodgers even seemed to struggle a little bit after his injury.
A poke in the eye may not seem serious now, but this one play showed the Packers how important it is for their team to protect their precious quarterback. Without Rodgers, the Packers season would be up for grabs. Now, more than ever, they need Rodgers to stay healthy, especially with the unlikely Minnesota Vikings at the top of the NFC North. Even the smallest poke in the eye could be detrimental to the Packers season. If Rodgers does not complete the pass to James Jones on their fourth quarter driver, the Packers could be sitting at 1-3 with little hope of getting in the playoffs.
Drew Brees led the game with 446 passing yards with three touchdown passes. His first touchdown pass, a 20-yard completion to Marques Colston, tied Johnny Unitas for the NFL’s record for most touchdown passes in consecutive regular season games. Brees has thrown at least one touchdown in 47 straight regular season games. He also holds the record for most passing yards in a season (5,476 yards in 2011).