Game Recap: Packers Improve to 3-0, Top Saints 37-30

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week three win against the Saints.    

 

No Davante Adams? No problem. No Kenny Clark? No problem. The Green Bay Packers (3-0, 2-0 NFC North ) made a statement Sunday night, topping the New Orleans Saints (1-2, 1-0 NFC South) 37-30 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Earlier this week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this game would be a “good measuring stick” for the Packers and boy, did they deliver. After putting up nearly 40 points for the third week in a row, Sunday night was further proof of what so many already knew; this Packers team is dangerous.     

For the first time this season, Green Bay’s defense came out fired up and ready to go on their opening drive. The D-train forced a quick three and out and put the ball in Rodgers’ hands very early into Sunday’s matchup.  

The Packers offense, however, couldn’t completely capitalize on the defense’s hot start. After two first down pickups from wide receiver Allen Lazard, Rodgers was sacked for a loss of 12 yards and Green Bay was ultimately forced to settle with a field goal to make it 3-0.

On the Saints’ kickoff return, Packers linebacker Oren Burks was able to punch the ball out and make a big play, but New Orleans was able to recover it. From there, things took a bit of a turn. Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara breezed right through the Packers defense for a huge 49-yard pickup to put them in scoring position. Then, Kamara got to show off a bit more, catching an 11-yard pass for a touchdown to put New Orleans up 7-3.

On their next offensive drive, the Packers started to find somewhat of a rhythm but still had to settle for another field goal attempt. Kicker Mason Crosby was money from 33 yards out and, with it, cut the Saints’ lead to 7-6.

The Packers defense was then able to regain its composure, forcing another three and out on its next drive and giving the offense another shot. This time, Rodgers and company were able to capitalize and make it 13-7 after a 5-yard touchdown catch from Lazard. It was quite fitting for Lazard to find the end zone on that drive, as he put Green Bay in scoring position after connecting with 12 on a huge 48-yard pass just a few plays prior.

The Saints, however, were not backing down without a fight and the way they ended the first half proved just that. After cutting Green Bay’s lead to 13-10 after kicker Will Lutz hit a 45-yard field goal, they went 61 yards down the field for a touchdown. The Saints got a huge break off a defensive holding call on what would have been 3rd and 14. Instead, Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith gave the Saints a first down and the opportunity to take a 17-13 lead heading into the half.

To start the second half, Green Bay was desperate for a momentum-changing play. They did it in week two after running back Aaron Jones took it 75-yards to the house, but could they do it again? Allen Lazard thought so. The undrafted free agent out of Iowa State hauled in a huge 72-yard catch to put the Packers in scoring position. After a few failed attempts on the goal line, Jones was then able to punch it in for the score to put the Packers up 20-17.

From there, it was an absolute shootout between the two NFC powerhouses. New Orleans was able to get a field goal on their next drive to tie things up at 20. Then, Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis (Big Dog!) showed that he’s still got some serious hops with an athletic 18-yard touchdown play to make it 27-20 Green Bay.

Following Lewis’ impressive score, Kamara decided to make even more of a fool out of the Packers’ defense. He took it 52-yards to the house on what should’ve been a short pass after Green Bay missed not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE tackles on the play to tie things up again, this time at 27.

The Packers, itching to re-take the lead, attempted to go for it on fourth down in their own half but came up short. Just as Green Bay fans started to hold their breath, Za’Darius Smith came out of nowhere to force, and then recover, a fumble on Saints’ quarterback/utility player Taysom Hill.

From there, it was all Green Bay all the time. The Packers hit a 49-yard field goal to take a 30-27 lead and then the defense came up huge, forcing another three and out. Rodgers, with just minutes remaining on the clock, did what he does best; put teams away and make it look ridiculously easy.

After a nice catch from tight end Jace Sternberger, Rodgers (aka the free play master) drew the Saints offside for a free play. On the free play, the Saints’ defender was also all over Lazard and got called for defensive pass interference. On the next play, the Saints were all over wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and got yet another defensive pass interference call. Then, after Jones came up just short at the goal line, tight end Robert Tonyan caught a 1-yard pass to put Green Bay up 37-27 with just two minutes to play.

The Saints continued to keep things close on their final drive, hitting a field goal from 34 yards out, but came up short on their onside kick attempt to try and re-gain possession at the end of the game. With that, the Packers improved to 3-0 and put up 37 points in the process. According to Packers reporter Wes  Hodkiewicz, 122 points in the first three games is the most points the Packers have scored in their first three games in franchise history.

With another stellar performance from Aaron Rodgers, a huge game from Allen Lazard and a big win despite the absence of key players, there was plenty to takeaway from the Packers week three victory.

 

What we learned: Aaron Rodgers has still got it

Ladies and gentlemen, Aaron Rodgers saw your tweets this offseason.

For the third week in a row, Rodgers threw for over 200 yards and looked utterly dominant out on the football field. Despite missing his number one receiver in Davante Adams, Rodgers still cooked on Sunday night, going 21/32 for 283 yards and 3 TDs with a 124.9 passing rating (ESPN stats).

When asked about the Packers offense at his post-game media availability, Rodgers said he felt “really good about.”

 

What went right: Tight end usage

Without Davante Adams, you knew that the Packers would have to utilize their tight ends a bit more on Sunday, but I was stunned at just how much of a positive impact the tight ends ended up having on this game.

Tonyan, Lewis and Sterberger combined for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns (ESPN stats) and were huge difference makers down the stretch. Keep in mind, Packers rookie tight end Josiah Deguara was inactive Sunday with an injury. When he’s back…look out.

 

What went wrong: Stopping Alvin Kamara

With the Saints’ star wide receiver, Michael Thomas, ruled out of the game with a high ankle sprain, the Packers defense had one main job on Sunday night: stop Alvin Kamara.

And man, did that seem tough for Green Bay. Kamara embarrassed the Packers multiple times and made things look way too easy. The most notable was his 52- yard touchdown catch where five Packers missed tackles and allowed him to score.

Kamara finished the night with 6 carries for 58 yards and 13 receptions for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns (ESPN stats).

 

Offensive MVP: Allen Lazard

Well, if you didn’t think Allen Lazard was WR2 before Sunday night, think again. With Adams out, this was a huge opportunity for either Lazard or MVS to answer the call and Lazard did just that. He finished the night with 6 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown (ESPN stats) and was awarded the team game ball.

It’s clear Lazard is a guy that Rodgers trust and that made all the difference Sunday night.

 

Defensive MVP: Kingsley Keke

Defensive end Kingsley Keke secured his first two career sacks on Sunday and had a really strong overall performance. His final stat line, taking the 2 sacks into consideration, was 2 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass deflection and 2 QB hits (ESPN stats).

With Kenny Clark out yet another week, someone had to come up with big plays on defense. This week, Kinglsey Keke just happened to be the guy.  

 

Here’s a look at some of your favorite takeaways!

  • “The @packers are the best team in the league!!!” - @erolson7

 

  • “matt lafleur and rodgers are both almost flawless so far this season. This defense has been god awful but they seem to always find that one play to save their butts.” - @MObladen

 

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers get a visit from the Atlanta Falcons for Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Kickoff is set for next Monday, October 5 at 8:15 p.m. EST.

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (16)

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Lphill's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:07 am

Imagine if we had a defense! We need help covering the middle , not drafting a inside linebacker was a mistake. We can't expect the Packers to score 35 points a game . a road win is nice but it won't get any easier .

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Coldworld's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:30 am

We drafted Martin. He would be starting we’re he not injured. I will be interested to look at Greene’s snaps. So far he hasn’t been the player he was before injury last season.

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nstewart1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:32 am

We DID draft an ILB, Kamal Martin in the 5th round - he should be back from IR soon.

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fastmoving's picture

September 28, 2020 at 02:39 pm

Maybe you can check what the salary cap means in pro football.
Other than that, there was no IL in the draft that would helped us this year.
And of course nobody expect the PACK score 35 points every game, but I would not bet against them either.

But man, did you see the flashy plays the defence made to help us win? I guess not.....

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Mojo's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:16 am

There's something I noticed about Rodgers and I wonder if it goes back to what he said about studying his 2011 tapes.

If anyone's noticed he's putting quite a bit of air under some of his long throws and allowing his receivers time to get under them ( Russell Wilson has made a career doing this). Especially to Lazard, who despite has lack of speed, seems to get open more than you'd ever expect.

Throwing lasers looks nice, and is necessary depending on the situation (especially short & over- the- middle routes), but on bombs, the timing has to be perfect. The added air time makes it much easier for a receiver to adjust to the trajectory.

Just curious if that's one of the things Rodgers discovered during his early career film studies.

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Demon's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:20 am

Doesnt extra air time allow the DB to make a play on the ball?

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Coldworld's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:34 am

I believe both the high throws travelled over 50 yards in the air. Lazard isn’t a speedster yet Rodgers pretty much landed them on him and with no chance for the db. I think air is reasonable and necessary on those types of plays.

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Mojo's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:40 am

Response to Demon: Not if the receiver is open and in position to screen out the defender.

The only way then for the DB to stop it is to go through the receiver and get a PI. This is assuming the safeties aren't in the picture.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:25 am

Unfortunately the defense has been studying the 2011 tapes also.

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gvtspook's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:42 am

I noticed this but I assumed it was because the wide receivers are getting much more separation than in the past. I always felt he had to throw a Lazer in the past so only the WR could get it where as if he put air under it the DB would have just AS good a chance to get it as the WR.

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gvtspook's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:44 am

Stupid double posts. GO PACK GO.

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dblbogey's picture

September 28, 2020 at 12:55 am

Keke looks good at a position we really need help at. Ty Summers looked good, MVS disappeared, Lazard is a football player, OL keeping Aaron clean. Defense looks horrible most of the time, but has been doing just enough, thanks to the offense scoring big. Alexander is a player.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 28, 2020 at 01:13 am

We definitely lack a big run-stopper in the middle, even when Clark returns, but I still believe most of the D's problem is Pettine. I feel exactly the same way I did for years when I complained almost daily about Capers. MLF can't make the same mistake Mac did and continue with this butcher. How many times can you see stunts with Z. Smith crashing inside and the runner running outside and gaining ten yards before anyone shows up? P. Smith or Gary dropping into coverage is ridiculous. They're each stiff as a board so it's like a tree the runner or receiver just has to go around. BTW, all the excitement about Gary is still really premature. He has one move, push upfield, but most of the time he's pushed ten yards past the QB. Pettine needs to go. I'll keep saying it but it didn't do me much good with Capers and I feel as long as the Packers keep scoring like a machine he'll be given a pass.

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CAG123's picture

September 28, 2020 at 03:59 am

Yeah I remember looking back at some of Pettine’s previous stops and he’s not exactly a raw numbers type of guy he wasn’t really producing shut down units. His defenses were stopping 3rd downs, getting sacks and turnovers and they were pretty decent in total yardage. I really don’t like the fact that he purposely neglects the run game just like I don’t like the fact that the TT and now BG neglect the ILB position it ALL MATTERS!

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Charlie_M's picture

September 28, 2020 at 10:51 am

That 3 and out late in the 4th quarter was beautiful. Ty Summers made a nice tackle on second down to keep it to 3rd and medium rather than 3rd and short. The Saints did us a favor by lining Kamara our wide instead of having him run a route from the backfield in my opinion. Yes, King and Sullivan made great plays to get off their blocks and keep Kamara in front of them but the play was really made by Preston Smith, hustling to keep Kamara from cutting inside. The defense was not good last night but they stepped up when they needed to.

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stockholder's picture

September 28, 2020 at 11:14 am

Packers did a great job handling the physical play of the saints. I saw Team first. Our TEs did a great job. And I think Keke , should replace Lowrey.

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