The Green Bay Packers came away with a 28 – 27 victory Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in another high-scoring game between these two teams. Last week’s “Senseless in Seattle” debacle triggered the NFL to settle its differences with the so-called regular referees this past week, so it was anticipated that all of the horrible officiating would cease. Unfortunately, that was not the case as the return of the regular referees to this game was arguably worse. It was a mess.
Except for the horrible officiating, this was a fun game to watch as the potent offense of Aaron Rodgers and Company returned to form. The Saints’ Drew Brees and his receivers are almost as good as the Packers and so the offenses respectively went up and down the field. Brees ended up with three touchdown passes, but Aaron Rodgers had four, two of them caught by James Jones who also caught a critical third down pass to clinch this game as time wore down.
I could spend the balance of this column griping about the abysmal officiating, but I won’t. Instead, there were some positives to take from this contest. The Packers’ offensive line played much better than last week. Keeping Aaron Rodgers upright has to be a priority and zero sacks is a good harbinger for Packer wins. Running back Cedric Benson had a solid performance too. It has been a long time since the Packers had a respectable running game, and it looks like Benson will continue to get his number called after his solid performance.
Rodgers is a master at running the “hurry-up” offense, but without him at the helm it gets scary. Late in the third quarter, with the Packers driving for a touchdown at a point where a score would have put the Pack up by two touchdowns, Rodgers got poked in the eye and had to leave the game. At the three-yard line, replacement quarterback Graham Harrell tripped over the center’s foot and fumbled the handoff, giving the Saints ball possession and momentum. That turnover led to a long touchdown pass for the Saints, and suddenly Cheeseheads were feeling like this game was going to be another snakebite loss like last week.
But that was not to be. The Packers dug down deep and fought the severe adversity from the Brees onslaught, as well as the incompetent referees. The Packer defensive secondary once again gave up way too many yards, but they came up with a nice goal line stand when the chips were down, and it seemed that their will to win was higher than that of the Saints in this contest.
Hopefully the Packers’ fortunes with bad officiating will abate soon. A good way to overcome officiating issues is to start winning some games decisively. Maybe that will start next week in Indianapolis when the Packers take on the Colts. The Colts feature quarterback Andrew Luck, who was the first collegiate player taken in the draft this past spring. Luck has a very bright future but the Colts are currently challenged talent-wise. The Packers should be at least a touchdown favorite as they begin a three week road trip.
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