The Packers and Saints combined for 876 total yards on Thursday night, yet, the game came down to two yards New Orleans couldn’t get.
Green Bay hung on for a 42-34 victory in the 2011 season-opener at Lambeau Field when Saints running back Mark Ingram was stuffed at the goal line on an untimed down to end the game.
Earlier, near the end of the third quarter and facing a similar eight-point deficit, the Saints failed to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 7-yard line when quarterback Drew Brees was flushed out of the pocket and threw incomplete.
“You have to find a way to win the game and get the big stops,” linebacker
The final stop was needed because, trailing 42-27 with 5:35 left, Brees and the Saints caught fire. A 5-yard TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham got New Orleans within one score with 2:15 left, and the Packers – despite an explosive night on offense of their own – couldn’t run out the clock.
A three-and-out gave the Saints one last shot from their own 20 with 1:08 left. On what appeared would be the final play, Hawk leaped over running back Darren Sproles in the end zone to bat the pass away. Hawk was called for pass-interference, though, giving the Saints an untimed down from the 1-yard line, and Ingram never got close as linebacker
“I knew we were there because of me, so I wanted to stop them more than anybody,” Hawk said. “Me and ‘Bish’ went over the top and the D-line did an awesome job getting a ton of push to move the line of scrimmage. The whole team was in on that. Clay hit him. A bunch of guys hit him.”
The goal-line stand concluded an aerial bonanza that saw Brees and Packers quarterback
“Aaron Rodgers is back,” Jennings said of his quarterback, whose 132.1 passer rating was better than Brees’ 112.5. “Man, we can be a special offense, definitely.”
Both teams also scored on returns, with Sproles taking a punt back 72 yards in the second quarter, and Packers rookie receiver
Cobb, who added a 32-yard TD reception in his NFL debut, gave the Packers a 35-20 lead with his record-breaking return before New Orleans mounted its first comeback. A three-play TD drive followed by a Packers three-and-out and another drive to the Green Bay 7 put the Saints in position to tie – with a score and two-point play – a game they trailed from the opening possession.
But after defensive linemen
“That’s a do-or-die play there, and we got off the field,” Matthews said. “We gave up too many yards, too many points, but we made the plays when they counted.”
Taking over at the 7 and leading 35-27, the Packers put together perhaps their most impressive drive of the night, going 93 yards and not even facing a third down until fullback
The Packers couldn’t grind out one more first down when they had to have it in the final two minutes, though, leading to the clock-at-zero drama.
“Anytime you win a game, you’ll take it,” Matthews said, “whether it’s ugly or not.”Additional game coverage