Tight end trio produces in a pinch for Packers' offense

Ty Summers steps in as defensive communicator for an injured Christian Kirksey

Packers TE Marcedes Lewis scores on an 18-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers in the third quarter of Green Bay's 37-30 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The Packers' tight ends came to play Sunday night at the Superdome.

The trio of Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis and Jace Sternberger combined for nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns during Green Bay's 37-30 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Tonyan, who had a career-high five catches for 50 yards, sparked two scoring drives with first-down catches and hauled in a pivotal 1-yard touchdown pass off play-action in the fourth quarter that gave the Packers their first two-score lead with two minutes remaining in the contest.

Lewis set a crucial block of Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan to help pave the way for Aaron Jones' 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal on Green Bay's first possession after halftime.

Later in the quarter, on third-and-2, the 36-year-old tight end skied over Malcolm Jenkins to come down with an 18-yard touchdown to put the Packers ahead 27-20.

Sternberger shook off a couple drops the past two weeks to catch three passes for 36 yards, all of which came in the fourth quarter. His 23-yard reception was actually what started the seven-play, 64-yard drive that culminated in Tonyan's score.

Aaron Rodgers touted Lewis' catch as a "huge" moment in the game, and praised the performances of Tonyan and Sternberger.

"Bobby had a number of plays where we got him sliding, coming across the formation, did a really nice job. Jace had the same opportunities for a couple of his plays," Rodgers said. "I wasn't intentionally trying to throw (Sternberger) the ball … but you love to see it. To get him that first catch on the sly, catch and run, was great for everybody because we're a family, we're a tight-knit group. … Jace tonight had a couple really important plays for us and we're really happy for him."

New line, same results: For the third week in a row, the Packers started a different combination on their offensive line to positive results.

Billy Turner made his first start at right tackle for the Packers after missing the past two games with a knee injury and starting all 18 games at right guard for Green Bay last season.

The offensive line once again kept Rodgers clean, as the two-time MVP quarterback was sacked only once and even that wasn't necessarily its fault to hear Rodgers tell it.

"I've gotten sacked twice in three games," Rodgers said. "Tonight was really on myself probably, not adjusting the protection, just (center) Corey (Linsley) and I were not on the same page. But two sacks in three games and the way that we run the ball – obviously tonight was a little bit tougher, we didn't get over 100 but the offensive line has really blocked extremely well."

The good news for Green Bay is it finished with the same starting five (David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Linsley, Lucas Patrick and Turner) with which it started the game for the first time this season.

The Green Bay Packers faced the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020.

Summers' time: The Packers' defense had to adjust on the fly after starting inside linebacker Christian Kirksey exited with a shoulder injury in the second quarter and didn't return.

That required former seventh-round pick Ty Summers to step in as the every-down linebacker and primary communicator despite never having played on defense in a regular-season game until Sunday.

There were a few plays the defense wanted back, including Alvin Kamara's 52-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, but Summers finished with a team-high nine tackles in two-plus quarters of action.

"We had some guys that went down, but we just had to make key adjustments, the next guy in," said defensive lineman Kingsley Keke, who had his first two career sacks on Sunday.

"Ty stepped up. At practice, you can tell he's dialed in, he's locked in. I know he prepared well at practice. Kirksey went down and Ty stepped in and made some key plays for us."

Watermelon toss-up: Down by seven with 35 seconds remaining, Saints kicker Will Lutz took a page out of Dallas' playbook and tried his version of Greg Zuerlein's "Watermelon kick" on a late onside attempt.

After Zuerlein successfully executed the spinning technique in the Cowboys' comeback win over Atlanta last Sunday, Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga went out of his way this week to break down the play with his unit.

So there was no panic when the kick slowly spun the Packers' way. It eventually went out of bounds without going the mandatory 10 yards, but Green Bay was ready even if it managed to go the necessary distance.

"So we obviously watched the Dallas-Atlanta game in film," said receiver Allen Lazard, the designated receiver on the side Lutz's ball was kicked.

"So we were able to get that timeout and talk about things over again. Really we were just able to prepare and obviously the ball didn't go 10 yards so we didn't have to make a play there. But we were very well prepared and ready to execute."

For the Winn: Veteran Billy Winn played in his first NFL game in nearly four years and had a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage to show for his efforts.

The seventh-year defensive lineman was elevated from the practice squad before the game to help fill in for an injured Kenny Clark. Prior to Sunday, due to a litany of injuries in recent years, Winn hadn't suited up in an NFL regular-season game since Jan. 1, 2017, with the Denver Broncos.

Packers DL Billy Winn walks off the field after Sunday's 37-30 victory over the New Orleans Saints
Packers DL Billy Winn walks off the field after Sunday's 37-30 victory over the New Orleans Saints

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