GREEN BAY – A play or two won't decide a 60-minute football game, but one or two can certainly change it.
The Packers were reminded of that Sunday, as one snap on each side of the ball proved pivotal in turning a potentially competitive game into a 38-3 rout.
The first one came with five minutes left before halftime, with the Saints going for it on fourth-and-7 from the Green Bay 41-yard line. A coverage bust allowed a tight end screen to Juwan Johnson to easily convert.
So what could have been a crucial defensive stop in a 10-0 contest turned into a 15-yard TD drive to make it 17-0.
Fast forward to the opening drive of the third quarter, and the Packers were looking to cut into a 17-3 deficit. From the New Orleans 9-yard line, a protection breakdown led to an Aaron Rodgers interception, so instead of possibly a 17-10 score, the game was never close again.
"It's amazing how big of an impact a play here or a play there makes within a football game like that," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday.
That's not to say the Packers are hanging their hat on being that close against the Saints. If LaFleur mentioned "things to clean up" once on Monday, he did so a half-dozen times.
An intensive film review with the players will take place Tuesday, with their off day being pushed back to Wednesday due to the Packers' Week 2 game scheduled for next Monday night vs. Detroit.
"We've just got to get back to work and we've got to stay resilient, we've got to stay together," LaFleur said. "It's one game, and that's the beauty of the National Football League, is nobody's going to feel sorry for you and you better not feel sorry for yourself.
"You have to have a short memory in this league both as a player and as a coach."
The coaches reviewed the game film on Monday. LaFleur pointed to chances missed to run the ball against New Orleans' deep-safety coverage scheme, and a productive discussion with the defensive staff over what went wrong in new coordinator Joe Barry's debut.
New Orleans converting three third downs and two fourth downs led to 38 total snaps in the first half. The opportunities for stops were there and got away.
"When you have a hard time getting off the grass, when they're 4-for-4 in the red zone, when they attempt about 39 runs in the game, that's some tough sledding," LaFleur said.
"I think we'll be better for it."
The injury news is relatively positive. Linebacker Za'Darius Smith, who hardly practiced during training camp due to a back injury, seemed to get through his 18 snaps OK. LaFleur is hoping he can practice more this week and take on a larger workload against the Lions.
LaFleur, saying he thought it was a clean hit, hasn't heard an explanation of Smith's roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out an interception by safety Darnell Savage.
Savage left the game with a shoulder injury, but LaFleur said there's a chance the extra day this week would allow him to play next Monday. Tight end Josiah Deguara, who was down on the field and attended to for quite a while, is in the concussion protocol but otherwise doing fine.
Both the Packers and Lions are 0-1 heading into Week 2 but coming off very different losses. Detroit rallied from a big deficit against San Francisco to get within one score and had the ball in 49ers territory in the final minute.
Green Bay never made those plays to turn its game around.
"Unfortunately sometimes in this league you get humbled," LaFleur said. "Certainly, we got humbled, and like I said, it's about how we respond to that."