Just when you thought it was over for the Packers – a 14-point swing when backup quarterback Graham Harrell couldn’t execute a simple handoff and two-plays later the Saints went ahead 24-21. The Saints added another field goal and things looked bleak for the Green & Gold.
But Aaron Rodgers did something he has not done much in his career and that was engineer a fourth quarter comeback. Rodgers fourth quarter TD pass to Jordy Nelson combined with the Packers new and improved defense gave the Packers a much needed win.
Are the Packers over the hump? Only time will tell but there are some positive signs. While the defense gave up a boatload of yards they did hold the mighty Saints offense to 27 points, which may sound like a lot but isn’t really for the Saints’ offense that arguably is the best in the league. The Packers’ offense looked more like the offense that used be the best in the league, but did only manage 28 points against the league’s worst defense.
The emergence of running back Cedric Benson is changing the Packers’ offense though, so the days of putting up 35 points a game are gone. The Packers are going to take what the defense gives them and while maybe not slowing matriculating down the field, they are taking more time and using the running game to open things up for the passing game. What a novel idea!
The Packers’ defense is the biggest beneficiary of this approach as they now actually have time to take off their helmets and get a drink in between series. The Packers’ defense is currently ranked 9th in the NFL after a quarter of the season even after giving up 474 yards to the Saints. The even better thing is that they should get better as the season goes on the young players gain experience.
Yeah, I picked the Saints to win. Yeah I said it. Sometimes you get a gut feeling and mine was that the Packers were headed for a long season. One win doesn’t guarantee the Packers will make the playoffs but it a least keeps them out of a huge hole and should give both sides of the ball confidence.
If the Packers can get through the upcoming three game road trip with a 2-1 record they should leave themselves with a chance. They won’t likely pick up any games in the standings though as the Bears have an easy schedule ahead. I’m not worried about the Vikings. Yet.
The Packers play their last five division games in the last seven weeks of the season. The division will be won or lost then if they don’t fall too far behind now.