There’s a good chance that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, but the rules inside the Superdome are a bit different, and often are in favor of Drew Brees, putting on quite the aerial show as the New Orleans Saints beat the Green Bay Packers 44-23.
The Packers lost for the first time after four straight wins while the Saints were able to avoid going down 2-5, which even in the NFC South would have meant that they’re in trouble. Brees put on his dancing shoes and played his best game of the season, completing 27-of-32 passes, throwing for 311 yards and three touchdown passes, while Mark Ingram ran all over the terrible Packers’ run defense, going for 172 yards and a touchdown, including 92 yards coming after contact.
Rodgers started the game with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb but was held in check later, similar to the loss against the Detroit Lions, as the Saints’ pass-rush was able to get to him too many times, sacking Rodgers on three occasions, hitting him five more times and making him look very bad with extra pressure, forcing those two interceptions out of him when there were five or more pass rushers coming in the blitz.
The biggest changer came in the third quarter. With the two teams tied at 16-16 and the Packers with a third-and-5 on the Saints’ five-yard line, Rodgers was picked off by David Hawthorne, and the Saints scored a touchdown on the next play, with a huge completion from Brees to Brandin Cooks for the 50-yard touchdown. The Packers never seemed to recover from that mistake. Later on in the game Rodgers threw another interception, but the Saints were up by 14 at that point.
Rodgers finished with 28-of-39 for 418 yards, throwing one touchdown pass and putting on a lot of yards in trying to rectify his mistakes. The running game was once again out of the picture for the Packers, reverting back to being a team that completely relies on the quick release of its quarterback. Eddie Lacy looked like quite a catch during his rookie season, but he finished with only 59 yards on 13 carries in New Orleans (maybe should have been used more) and has carried the ball too few times this season, projected to finish with just over 850 yards.
Rodgers did run for a touchdown himself, picking up 21 yards on two carries. He was replaced late in the game by Matt Flynn, who turned the ball over as well with a fumble when the game was already lost for the Packers. Brees, unlike Rodgers, did exceptionally well when he was facing added pressure, completing his three touchdown passes with five or more pass rushers coming at him. He saw a blitz coming his way on 46% of his dropbacks.
No punts for the second time this season, involving the Packers on both times. There have been only three games like this in the history of the NFL, and it’s hard to call it a trend, but in a league that’s mostly about the quarterbacks throwing and throwing the ball more and more, it’s probably not going to be the last we see in the near future, especially when two pass happy teams like the Saints and Packers get together.