The Green Bay Packers faced their toughest test yet of the early season facing off against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. The Saints (2-1) were without their top playmaker for the second straight week, Michael Thomas. Drew Brees and the rest of the offense had to rely on the running back Alvin Kamara and the likes of Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith. The Packers were not without pivotal playmakers as well. Davante Adams missed his first game of the year after leaving early week two against the Lions. Kenny Clark missed his second straight game after injuring his groin in the opener.
Rodgers and Brees combined for nearly 600 yards of passing offense threw three touchdowns a piece. Both were sharp all night long. Brees kept his passes close to the line of scrimmage, while Rodgers took multiple deep shots to Allen Lazard.
Rodgers and the Offense
Lazard came up big in the absence of Adams, collecting 6 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. The trio of Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis routinely made clutch plays all night long. Lewis and Tonyan each caught their first touchdown passes of the year. Aaron Jones was bottled up most of the night and finished with 69 yards on 16 carries. A far cry from the career game he put up against the Lions, but was effective when needed and finished with a touchdown. Rodgers was once again sharp and shredded the Saints defense when needed.
Brees and Kamara
While Brees stat line looked impressive, most of the work can be accredited to Kamara. Throughout the game, Kamara cut through the Packers defense like swiss cheese. Kamara only carried the ball 9 times for 58 yards. He did all his damage through the air and on screens. He finished with 13 receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Sanders was quiet throughout most of the game, but made a nice jumping snag in the end zone and caught his second touchdown as a Saint. Many expected Sanders to make the leap as the number one receiver when Thomas went out, but Kamara filled that role in Thomas like fashion.
The Saints offense was humming until a fumble by Taysum Hill in the fourth that was recovered by Packers defender Za’Darius Smith. After that play, the Saints weren’t able to do anything more until garbage time when Lutz kicked a 34 yard field goal to make it a one possesion game. The Saints attempted an onside kick to have the opportunity to tie the game, but were unable to recover it.
Packers Defense (Cue in KeKe)
The Packers defense is filled with star power. You have the likes of Jaire Alexander, the Smith Brothers (not related) and all-pro defensive lineman in Clark. While Za’Darius Smith was the one to cause and recover the fumble on Hill, the star of the defense last night might have been back up lineman Kingsley Keke. A fifth round draft pick from 2019, played little as a rookie and this year until the injury to Clark. Keke provided the Packers with an effective pass rush against Brees. Keke sacked Brees twice for his first sacks of his career. The defense gave up plenty of big plays, but made big plays when needed.
The Packers defeated the Saints 37-30 in a classic Rodgers and Brees shootout. Both offenses were humming, even without their top playmakers. The difference, while doesn’t seem like it in the score, came from a turnover by the defense. Fourth quarter, game tied at 27, Za’Darius Smith was able to punch the ball out Hill’s grasp and recover himself that turned the tide of the game.
The Packers turn their attention to the winless Atlanta Falcons in week 4 on Monday Night. Matt Ryan and the Falcons look to capture their first win of the season, while Rodgers and the Packers look to stay undefeated.