by Mark Metzler
It turns out that the Packers are for real as they defeated the Saints, 37-30. The undefeated Packers showed resilience against a very good Saints team in New Orleans, though you could see that not having a home crowd hurt the Saints.
There were a lot of important plays in the game. One was during the Packers’ last scoring drive when Aaron Rodgers hard count drew the Saints offside, resulting in what was essentially a free play and pass interference call in the end zone. With a home crowd, as the announcers pointed out, Rodgers would have been using a silent count because of the noise.
It was a big decision coming out of the half to go for it fourth and goal from the one. Aaron Jones slashed in, thanks to a block from Marcedes Lewis. Lewis later came up with a big touchdown catch.
One of the keys to the game came at the end of the first half. The Packers had a 13-10 lead and had the ball with 4:24 left, but were unable to drive and gave the ball back to the Saints. The Saints drove and took the ball in for a go-ahead touchdown to make it 17-13 just before the half.
In the previous two weeks, the Packers owned the end of the half, and it really led to their victories. But, again, the team stuck to its plan and showed heart with a drive to open the third quarter, a stop on defense that held the Saints to a field goal, and then another touchdown drive. Other teams in other years may have cashed it in.
Rodgers was really good again for the Packers, and a number of players came up big, including linebacker Ty Summers, who filled in for an injured Christian Kirksey, and tight ends Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyan. The best game came from wide receiver Allen Lazard. Lazard had six catches for 146 yards. Still, the team really does need Davante Adams. Adams and nose tackle Kenny Clark should be back next week.
That play Alvin Kamara made to tie the game at 27 was one of the best runs I’ve seen in years. He took a reception that may have made a yard and turned into a 56-yard touchdown. Kamara is a great running back. He can run and catch as good as any. He might be the best back in the league (Aaron Jones isn’t far behind).
When you talk about great running backs, you have to talk about Gale Sayers. Sayers passed away last week, and, in my opinion, he was the best running back ever to play.
Of all the running performances against the Packers, the best I ever saw was by Sayers in 1968. Even as a kid, I remember him making the Packers look as if they were standing still. Sayers shredded the Packers’ defense, just a few months removed from its second Super Bowl win, for 205 yards rushing. A week or two later he suffered a devastating knee injury that essentially ended his career. He did come back the next year to run for more than 1,000 yards, but then he was done, playing in only 68 games. He was fast, elusive and he could run with power when needed.
He is also remembered for his great friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer when he was just 27. That friendship was highlighted in the movie “Brian’s Song.” Sayers and Piccolo were the NFLs first integrated roommates in 1967, I think. Think of that time in our country and what that showed.
If you want to see an example of a someone so much better than his competition, watch Sayers’ 1965 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He scored six touchdowns that day, including one on a kickoff return, one on a punt return and one receiving.
Next week the Packers have the Falcons, who have started 0-3, and have found a way to throw away wins in each of those first three games. It’s going to be a tough game.
Yes, you can expect to see the Saints again. Even though the team is 1-2, the Saints will be in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how good they will be by then because star wide receiver Michael Thomas should be back.