Saints struggles continue as they fall to Packers at home
NEW ORLEANS -- They say all good things must come to an end, and the Saints saw a couple of them happen against the Packers on Sunday night. The team lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2017, and lost for the first time on Sunday Night Football at home under Sean Payton. They were previously 10-0.
The Saints started with the ball to open the game after losing the coin toss, and went three-and-out to begin. Aaron Rodgers would lead the Packers for 35 yards in 10 plays on their first offensive drive to set up a 52-yard field goal by Mason Crosby for the opening score. The Saints defense didn't look sharp to start, as they were getting killed in the flats. However, a big pass breakup at the line by Carl Granderson was followed up by a sack by Demario Davis to help setup a long third-down attempt for Green Bay on the drive.
It only took New Orleans four plays to respond after averting a near disaster on the kick return. Latavius Murray had two strong runs, but it was the big 49-yard run by Alvin Kamara that flipped the field for the Saints offense. Adam Trautman, Josh Hill, and Tre'Quan Smith all had key blocks on the rush. Just two plays later, Drew Brees found Kamara over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 7-3 with 5:07 in the opening quarter.
Green Bay would counter with a drive of their own, which was helped out by a questionable horse collar tackle on Malcolm Jenkins. It was a bend, don't break type of drive, as the Saints defense tightened to force another Mason Crosby field goal to cut the game to 7-6 early in the second quarter. The Saints wouldn't do anything with their ensuing possession, going a quick three-and-out, and Aaron Rodgers would make them pay in just three plays, connecting with Allen Lazard for a 48-yard gain to start the drive, which set up a five-yard touchdown to him just two plays later to take a 13-7 lead with 10:32 to play before the half.
The Saints looked to give the ball right back to the Packers on the next drive, as they were facing a 3rd-and-15, but Alvin Kamara made a great individual play to convert after taking a Brees pass to extend the drive. New Orleans would continue moving the ball thanks to some good runs, but stalled out in Packers territory to settle for a 45-yard Wil Lutz field goal to make it 13-10 with 4:28 left in the second quarter.
The defense would tighten up again for the Saints, as they forced the Packers to punt the ball back to them after a few plays. New Orleans would go into their two-minute offense, and cash in on a touchdown before halftime after going 61 yards in 11 plays. Again, the Alvin Kamara connection was big for the offense, and they'd hit the end zone thanks to a Brees to Emmanuel Sanders 10-yard connection. The team did lose Andrus Peat on the drive, as he had to be carted off due to a left ankle injury suffered after Kamara rolled up on him.
The start of the second half wasn't a favorable one for the Saints, as they looked to get off the field after two good plays, but Rodgers would hit Allen Lazard for a 72-yard bomb to put the Packers in a 1st-and-goal situation, and would eventually gamble on 4th and goal to have Aaron Jones punch it in for a one-yard plunge to see Green Bay retake the lead 20-17. New Orleans would march back down the field, but could only muster a field goal to tie things up, as a fourth-down play saw the offense stay on the field but it was Terron Armstead who was called for a false start rather then getting the neutral zone infraction.
It wouldn't take long for the Packers to counter, as they'd go 75 yards in just six plays to go back up 27-20. Marcus Williams was flagged for a questionable defensive pass interference that looked to be an uncatchable ball, while Marcedes Lewis would score on an 18-yard touchdown catch from Rodgers that had Malcolm Jenkins asking for offensive pass interference.
The back and forth continued, and it was Alvin Kamara who made a highlight reel on a play that looked to be a big loss at first. Kamara took a check down from Brees, and turned it into a 52-yard score. He made several defenders miss in the process, and the Saints would tie things back up at 27 in just three plays.
New Orleans would get a big fourth-down defensive stop, and the Saints looked to make work of the short field. However, Taysom Hill would cough it up just two plays later and give the ball right back to the Packers. Fortunately, the defense would get a much-needed stop and only surrender a Mason Crosby field goal to see the Packers go back on top 30-27 with 8:47 left to play.
The Saints offense had another quick three-and-out, which gave the Packers back the ball with 6:36 to play. New Orleans couldn't do much defensively to slow the Packers down, and some penalties gave them a goal-to-go situation late in the game that essentially put the Saints away, as Rodgers found Robert Tonyan for an easy score to go up 37-27 at the two-minute warning.
New Orleans would make things interesting with a late field goal from Wil Lutz in the two-minute drill with 32 seconds to go, but could not make the onside kick work. The Saints (1-2) will try to find some answers on both sides of the ball, and are now tasked with traveling up north to take on the Lions (1-2) in Week 4, who are fresh off their first win of the season over the Cardinals.