Packers-Saints Recap



THE WEEK PAST: The Packers' Sunday skirmish with the Saints was a statistical rarity. Both teams closed out the afternoon with 357 net yards of offense. But it ended there. The Saints had much the better of it on the scoreboard, putting up five touchdowns with an impressive assortment of big plays that saw them score in every quarter, while the Packers settled for a pair of touchdowns and two field goals.

Despite the Saints' pyrotechnics, the Packers came intriguingly close in the fourth quarter when they trimmed New Orleans' advantage to 28-20 on a Ryan Longwell field goal with 4:31 remaining in the game.

But this, it abruptly turned out, was the Saints' day. On the second play following the ensuing kickoff they put the game away when running back Deuce McAllister shot into the open at right end and sprinted 62 yards to the Green Bay 4-yard line, virtually assuring New Orleans victory.

Two plays later, McAllister bolted over left tackle for 2 yards and the game's final touchdown.

The Saints, now 2-and-0, led all the way after taking the opening kickoff and setting the tone for the day's proceedings by driving 68 yards to the game's first touchdown, scored by the ubiquitous McAllister from 4 yards out.

Former Packer Aaron Brooks keyed the Saints' success, demonstrating impressive poise for a young field general while completing 16 of 28 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions, to complement a 123-yard rushing performance by McAllister.

Brett Favre, meanwhile, was a productive workman despite being harassed throughout by a relentless New Orleans defense, completing 29 of 44 passes for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception.

Ahman Green, rebounding from a bout with the stomach flu late in the week before the game, paced the Packers' ground game with 81 yards in 17 attempts, a 4.8-yard average.

THE FAVRE FILE: Brett Favre further entrenched himself among professional football's quarterback royalty Sunday.

First, in the final seconds of the second quarter, he fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to Terry Glenn, the 290th of his of his career, tying the legendary Johnny Unitas for fifth place on the NFL's all-time list.

Then, with only 31 seconds left in the third quarter, he threw a 26-yard strike to Donald Driver, thus tying Warren Moon for fourth place on the career list with his 291st TD pass.

Next ahead: John Elway, third all-time with 300.

Elsewhere, however, Favre saw one of his most prestigious streaks come to an end. His fifth pass of the afternoon was intercepted by Darrin Smith off a deflection, ending Favre's string of passes without an interception at 158...the third-longest such streak in Packers history. Favre himself holds the second-longest (163). The club record, 294, is held by Bart Starr, who set it over the 1964-65 seasons.

-With his scoring pass to Terry Glenn in the closing seconds of the first half, Favre now has thrown touchdown passes to 33 different receivers over his 11-year Green Bay career.

-From the durability perspective, Favre made his 159th consecutive start, extending his NFL record for quarterbacks, and played in his 161st consecutive game, which lifted him to within one game of tying Larry McCarren (1973-84) for third place on the Packers' all-time list. Forrest Gregg leads with 187, followed by Willie Wood (166).

By playing in his 161st game, Favre moved past Dave Hanner (1952-64) into 10th place on the team's list for most career games played.

THE (NFL) STATISTICAL UPDATE: In the wake of his 134-yard production at New Orleans, running back Ahman Green now leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage with 331 - one more yard than the Indianapolis Colts' Edgerrin James, who paces the American Football Conference with 330.

Green has rushed for 236 yards in 44 attempts, a 5.4-yard average, and has gained an additional 95 yards receiving with 12 catches and is tied with running backs Shaun Alexander of Seattle and Duce Staley of Philadelphia for eighth place among NFC receivers.

Green also leads the NFC in production of first downs with 15 (10 rushing and 5 receiving).

Quarterback Brett Favre, the league leader a week ago, now ranks third in the NFC and 10th in the NFL with a 98.6 passer rating, based on 54 completions in 80 attempts for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 1 interception.

Favre also ranks seventh in the NFC in fourth-quarter passing with an 82.7 rating, based on 14 completions in 20 attempts for 107 yards, with no interceptions.

Teammate Ryan Longwell is tied with the New York Giants' Matt Bryant for the NFC lead in kick scoring with 21 points. He has made all 6 conversions he has attempted and 5 of 6 field goal attempts.

Packers receivers Donald Driver and Terry Glenn are involved in an 9-way tie for 12th place among NFC receivers with 11 catches apiece.

Punter Josh Bidwell is first among NFC punters with a 47.5-yard average for 6 punts.

As a team, the Packers rank third in the NFL on offense (seventh in rushing and eighth in passing) and 24th on defense (30th against the run and 15th against the pass).

GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POST-GAME COMMENTS:

(on the performance and the result) "We didn't play well for the second week in a row. We haven't stepped up to the level that we need to play.

"I thought the Saints did an outstanding job of making plays when they had to make plays, and they jumped up on us and did a good job.

"We tried to pressure them early and, to their credit, they handled the blitz pretty well and completed a couple balls on us."

(on whether the Saints had Brett Favre on the run) "They did...plus the fact that I believe we had seven offensive penalties that put us into long yardage situations more often than you can have in this type of environment and against this type of team.

"This team was not a surprise to me. I told our team all week long, 'This team has a chip on it shoulder - and the most dangerous team in football is a team that has a chip on its shoulder'...and they proved it today. They went out there and did what they had to do."

(on the noise factor) "The noise was not a problem. We've been playing in domed stadiums...we're going to be playing in outdoor stadiums...we're going to play in a lot of stadiums.

"The problem we had today was the New Orleans Saints. They were the problem and I'm not going to blame anything on the noise, the dome, or nothing. The New Orleans Saints out-played and out-coached the Green Bay Packers.

"We've never played a football game in a non-noise environment. You have to be able to handle the noise and practice in the noise as football players and coaches. If you want to win football games, that's something you have to be able to handle."

(on the offensive penalties) "Is it the guys getting off on the ball...what is it? The speed of the defense or the noise or us not getting off?

"I just like to think our guys are accountable for what happened today...and that is that they got beat by the better team today."

(on 'how to you bounce back from this one') "It's a good question. What I will tell them is that they have to bounce back. And that is what we have to do.

"You know, you lose a football game. But we were not going through a season 16-and-0...and you just have to be able to handle it...and take it for what it's worth.

"You look at it, and you make your corrections...and there are plenty to be made.

"I think the true test of this team will be how we handle this. I told them during the preseason we would have days like this. Every team in the league has days like this. Hopefully you don't have too many of them or you don't end up playing later in the season."

THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:

Quarterback Brett Favre: (on the offensive performance) "We didn't block very well, and that's basically where it starts. I'm not putting the blame on the offensive line. It's a team effort or lack of team effort. We had some opportunities, but we just didn't handle their complete package. They didn't do anything we hadn't seen before."

(on the defensive performance) "Hey, I've got enough concerns about the offense. They pay me to lead the offense, not to criticize the defense. We didn't score enough points. That's the bottom line.

"You can't put your defense in situations like we were putting them today. In the second half, we got a little bit of momentum, and we gave it right back to them. That just kills a defense. If I was on defense, I'd be upset."

(on whether the Saints had been taken lightly) "I was as upset as Mike (head coach Mike Sherman) was and should have been. Some players were upset, or most of them were. Some show it more than others. You can never be complacent. I gave it everything I had."

(on Earl Dotson stepping in for the injured Mark Tauscher at right tackle) "Earl will be fine. You hope you never have to lose your starting guys, but we're playing with Frankie (Winters, at center) and now Earl. I don't foresee us missing a beat. I hate that for Tausch, but thankfully we have a guy in Earl. He's up to the challenge."

Linebacker Na'il Diggs: (on the overall defensive performance) "It's definitely time to get concerned. It's the second week and I still haven't felt a sense of urgency by us to go make plays. I felt like they pretty much ran up an down the field."

Defensive end Vonnie Holliday: "Hopefully this was a wake up call for our defense...It was for me."

NOTE-WORTHY:

-In losing to the Saints Sunday, the Packers lost in the Louisiana Superdome for the first time in 15 years. They last lost there in 1987 (33-24).

-It also was the first time quarterback Brett Favre had ever lost in the Superdome. He went into action with a 5-0 record there (2-0 in regular season, 1-0 in postseason with the 35-21 victory over New England in Super Bowl XXXI, and 2-0 in preseason).

-Head Coach Mike Sherman coached against the Saints Sunday for the first time in his 6-year NFL career.

-Brett Favre's touchdown pass to Terry Glenn in the final minute of the first half was Glenn's first TD reception as a Packer in addition to being the 290th of Favre's career, tying the late Johnny Unitas for fifth place all-time.

-Nose tackle Rod Walker made the first start of his NFL career, stepping in for Gilbert Brown, who Head Coach Mike Sherman said could have played but it was a bit of a risk because No. 93 was coming off a leg injury.

-Placekicker Ryan Longwell, who made both field goals he attempted, now has made 5 of 6 attempts in the first two games of the regular season, an .833 percentage.

-Punter Josh Bidwell exhibited a stout leg against the Saints, averaging a 53.3 yards for 4 punts, including a 57-yard first effort from his end zone which lifted the Packers out of a substantial hole.

-Veteran Earl Dotson moved in at right tackle when Mark Tauscher was injured late in the second quarter and went on to finish the game there.

-Safety Darren Sharper's late second quarter interception, with which he set up the Packers' first touchdown with a 44-yard runback to the New Orleans 14-yard-line, was the 21st of his six-year NFL career.

-Linebacker Na'il Diggs posted the Packers' only sack in Sunday's game, felling the Saints' Aaron Brooks for a 6-yard loss, fortuitously forcing a New Orleans punt after the Saints had recovered a Brett Favre fumble at the Green Bay 48-yard line.

-The Packers' inactives for the Saints contest offensive tackle Kevin Barry, tight end Tyrone Davis, defensive tackle Gilbert Brown, defensive end Jamal Reynolds, defensive lineman Aaron Kampman, linebacker Marcus Wilkins, defensive back Marques Anderson and designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.

-Packers game captains were wide receiver Donald Driver, and quarterback Doug Pederson (offense), Joe Johnson (defense) and Rondell Mealey (special teams).

-A moment of silence was observed in the Superdome just before the game's kickoff to honor the memory of the late Johnny Unitas, who died of a heart attack last week at the age of 69.

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