NEW ORLEANS - It's becoming an all-too-familiar scenario for the Packers' offensive line.
Once again on Monday night, a starter was out of the game early and the line had to adjust. This time, right tackle Mark Tauscher injured his hamstring on the second snap of the game and was replaced by Tony Moll.
Moll, who started a handful of games for Tauscher as a rookie in 2006, held his own as the offense had a productive first half with 195 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think Tony Moll stepped in and did a fine job," center Scott Wells said. "Obviously you hate to lose one of your guys, especially early in a game. But it's happened before, we've had a guy go down and someone always steps up and does a decent job. But we didn't get the job done today."
Indeed, the offense couldn't sustain that level of production in the second half, turning the ball over three times.
Most indicative of the line play, running back Ryan Grant was on his way to a productive night with 16 carries for 64 yards in the first half, a solid 4.0 average. But the Packers were so far behind in the second half, Grant got just two more carries for 3 yards after halftime.
"I thought Tony did a nice job stepping in at a position he doesn't get a ton of practice at," guard Daryn Colledge said. "We had some success early in the game.
"I thought we had a good running game the first half. I thought we had a good tempo. We fell behind quick in the second half, and we had to change our game plan. You have to be able to roll with those punches."
In there again
Fullback John Kuhn scored his first NFL touchdown on a pass reception a few weeks ago against Seattle, and he added his first career rushing TD on Monday night.
Kuhn, who has been an effective weapon for the Packers in short-yardage situations, got the call on the Packers' first touchdown drive of the game. He was stopped just short of the goal line on first-and-goal from the 1, but he got it right back on the next snap and lunged up over top of the pile.
After an early 27-yard punt return by Will Blackmon set up the Packers' opening touchdown drive of just 37 yards, it was the Saints who began getting the short fields due to special teams.
Midway through the first quarter with the Packers backed up inside their own 20, punter Derrick Frost mis-hit a punt off the left side of his foot, and the ball floated out of bounds. The 24-yard punt gave the Saints the ball on the Green Bay 41, and New Orleans needed just five plays to get into the end zone.
Then after the Packers tied the score at 21 late in the second quarter, Saints kick returner Courtney Roby broke off a 62-yard kickoff return to the Green Bay 32. New Orleans ran short on time, however, and had to settle for a field goal to close the first half.
The Saints also had a touchdown drive of just 3 yards in the second half after an interception and long return by Jason David, and a TD drive of 42 yards after recovering an onside kick attempt by the Packers.
In addition to Tauscher's injury, the Packers sustained three other injuries in the game.
Safety Aaron Rouse and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly both had ankle injuries, while cornerback Pat Lee had a knee injury.