In Week 2, the Green Bay Packers got nearly everything they didn't get in Week 1.
Except a victory.
In stark contrast to their shutout loss to open the season, the Packers got off to a fast start, forced turnovers on defense, displayed an effective passing attack and scored a bunch of points.
But all that still wasn't enough to get a win, and the Packers fell to 0-2 with a 34-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints in front of 70,602 fans at Lambeau Field.
"It's not the outcome we were looking for," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's disappointing, and we need to find a way to win those games, find a way to make more plays, particularly in critical situations."
In what turned into an offensive shootout, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Drew Brees combined for nearly 700 yards and five TDs through the air. After Brees rallied his team from an early 13-0 deficit to lead by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Favre mounted a comeback that ended across midfield and one score short of forcing overtime.
"I give the Saints a great deal of credit," said Favre, who had three TD passes and completed 31 of 55 throws for 340 yards, 13 fewer yards than Brees. "But that's a game we should have won, and we didn't do it."
The back-and-forth game changed dramatically in a span of three plays midway through the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 20, the Saints had just moved into Packers' territory when Brees hit Marques Colston for a 35-yard touchdown to make it 27-20.
On the first play of the Packers' next drive, Ahman Green had the ball knocked out by Charles Grant chasing on the backside. The fumble was recovered by Will Smith at the Green Bay 23, and on the very next play Deuce McAllister busted through the line for a 23-yard touchdown run. That gave New Orleans 14 points in a span of 26 seconds and a 34-20 lead with 7:54 left.
"Sudden change is something you coach for, coach against, and we did not handle it very well," McCarthy said.
The Packers didn't quit, though. Favre drove the offense 68 yards in 10 plays, hitting Noah Herron in the flat for a 6-yard TD pass to make it 34-27 with 4:18 left. The defense forced a three-and-out, and the Packers got it back on their own 41 with 3:09 to go.
At that point, everyone on the Packers side was figuring they'd find a way to get the game to OT.
"The whole game I thought we were going to come back and win," center Scott Wells said. "I definitely felt we were going to be able to move the ball, punch it in, tie it up and win the game after that. But we didn't step up and make the plays we needed to make."
Favre hit David Martin on consecutive passes to gain 15 yards and move to the New Orleans 44. But the drive abruptly ended with four straight incompletions, sealing a frustrating loss.
"The last couple years when we've been put in that situation where we have a chance to win it, I've always felt like I could win it, and I thought, 'Here we go again today,'" Favre said. "But I almost hate to watch the film because I know there's going to be some plays I could have made."
Early on it was the Packers' defense making plays.
Three turnovers - two fumbles by Brees on sacks by Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and an interception by Al Harris off a deflection from Nick Collins -- helped set up three Packer scores.
Favre hit Greg Jennings for a 22-yard TD and Dave Rayner hit a pair of field goals, giving the Packers a 13-0 lead in the final minute of the first quarter.
The Saints made the Packers regret not getting more out of those opportunities, though, particularly the second turnover, which gave Green Bay a first down on the New Orleans 15. Three plays gained just 9 yards, leaving at least four potential points off the board.
"When we got the momentum, we just have to keep it," Collins said. "When we have the opportunity to put our foot on their throat, we have to take advantage of it."
Instead the Saints responded with consecutive touchdown drives to take a 14-13 halftime lead.
A 33-yard pass from Brees to tight end Mark Campbell set up a 3-yard TD run by McAllister, and a convincing pump fake beat the Green Bay secondary on a 26-yard TD toss to Devery Henderson with 56 seconds left in the first half.
The Packers looked poised to re-take the lead early in the third quarter, but another "sudden change" turned the momentum once again.
A promising first-and-goal from the 7 produced an interception, as Favre was hit by Scott Fujita while trying to throw the ball away, and his wobbly pass into heavy traffic was pulled down by Omar Stoutmire in the end zone.
On the very next play, Saints receiver Joe Horn busted free off a quick slant for a 57-yard gain, setting up the first of two long John Carney field goals that put New Orleans ahead 20-13 late in the third.
"That's the hard thing about football -- things can change that quick, games can turn around like that," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "You just have to handle those things to be a great team. Today we didn't handle it as well as we should have."
The Packers responded with a 4-yard TD pass to Robert Ferguson to tie the game at 20 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, leading to the shootout at the finish.
It's that part of the game - finishing - that the Packers will focus on the next time they're in position to do so. For everything they were able to do this week that they couldn't last week, the Packers know they let this one get away.
"We started off all right, but we didn't put a full game together," Hawk said. "It's hard. Coaches talk about how hard it is to win games in the NFL, and it is. You need to play a full 60 minutes. We need to put a full game together, but we've been inconsistent."