Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) is tackled by New
Orleans Saints free safety Rafael Bush (25) strong safety Kenny
Vaccaro in the first half.
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees treated
a national audience to yet another prolific performance in the
Superdome, and New Orleans' defense helped out with a few big plays
of its own.
Brees completed 27 of 32 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns,
and the Saints ended the Green Bay Packers' four-game winning
streak, 44-23 on Sunday night.
Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks had a 50-yard touchdown catch and a
4-yard scoring run, and tight end Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown
pass. The Saints (3-4) pulled even in victories with Carolina
(3-4-1), setting up a Thursday night showdown for first place in the
Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis grabs the face mask of Green Bay
Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) in the first half.
Aaron Rodgers, intercepted only once in
Green Bay's first seven games, was picked off twice on tipped passes
and sacked three times. He still passed for 418 yards, including a
70-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, but it was not nearly enough
to prevent the Packers (5-3) from falling a game behind NFC North
Eddie Lacy, who grew up in the New Orleans area, had 181 yards from
scrimmage — including 123 yards on eight catches — in his
homecoming, but was stopped on fourth-and-short in Green Bay
territory in the third quarter. Soon after, the Saints cashed in on
Graham's touchdown to make it a two-score game.
Brees completed all 11 of his passes in the second half, including a
2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, as the Saints improved
to 3-0 at home this season. It also marked New Orleans' 14th
straight victory in a night game in the Superdome, going back to
2009. Most of those games weren't close, and the latest one followed
Saints defensive back Marcus Ball (36) pushes Green Bay Packers
quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) out of bounds in the first half.
Green Bay was without two starting
defensive backs: cornerback Sam Shields and safety Morgan Burnett.
Compounding matters for Green Bay's defense was the strong running
of Mark Ingram, which only made Brees' play-action fakes more
effective. Carrying a heavy load in the absence of injured running
backs Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson, Ingram had 24 carries for a
career-high 172 yards and a touchdown.
The game appeared to turn on the Saints' first interception, which
came when the Packers were in range of a go-head score early in the
third quarter. Cornerback Corey White tipped a pass intended for
Andrew Quarless near the goal line and linebacker David Hawthorne
caught it. That led to Cooks' TD.
Later, Saints coach Sean Payton set up New Orleans' fourth-down stop
by challenging the spot of a reception near the first down marker.
Initially ruled a first down, the spot was moved back a yard, then
Hawthorne and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker stuffed Lacy's run to
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by New Orleans
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first half.
Neither team had trouble moving the
ball in the first half, but both defenses were largely successful in
mitigating the damage on the scoreboard. Each offense got in the end
zone only once. Green Bay's Mason Crosby and New Orleans' Shayne
Graham each kicked three field goals and there were no punts.
Brees hit Kenny Stills for 45-yard completion on New Orleans'
opening drive, which ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Cooks,
tying it at 7.
Green Bay marched right back down the field thanks to Lacy, who
turned a short-pass into a tackle-shedding 67-yard gain to the 3.
However, the Saints responded by stuffing Lacy on his next run, then
got a break when veteran linebacker Julius Peppers, inserted as a
tight end, dropped a pass in the end zone. Defensive end Cameron
Jordan then sacked Rodgers, forcing a field goal.
The Packers tried to steal an extra possession with a surprise
onside kick, but the Saints' Ramon Humber got the ball first and
diverted it out of bounds at the Green Bay 46. New Orleans drove
inside the 10, only to settle for a tying field goal after Peppers'
third-down sack of Brees.
Green Bay had a 16-13 lead on Crosby's 27-yard field goal with 1:51
left in the second quarter, but Brees quickly marched the Saints to
the 19 before a lack of time forced New Orleans to settle for
Graham's 37-yard field goal to tie it.