After an off season marred by lockouts and legal maneuvering, football officially returned with an electrifying opening game shootout between the last two Super Bowl Champions in which the Packers outlasted the Saints 42-34.
The game came down to the wire, as the Saints had a chance to tie at the end of the fourth quarter. They drove the ball down into the red zone with three seconds left. A pass interference call on A.J. Hawk in the end zone as time expired gave the Saints one more play from the 1 yard line with no time on the clock. The Saints attempted to run the ball in with rookie Mark Ingram, but were stopped on the goal line.
“I was saying to myself they have to throw here,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game. “As hot as Drew was, you had to put it in his hands again. I’m glad they ran it.”
The game was a shootout in every sense of the word. The two quarterbacks, Rodgers and Drew Brees, who were the MVPs of the last two Super Bowls, combined for over 700 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Both teams generated touchdowns in the return game. The teams combined for 877 yards and 76 points. The game had something for everyone, except maybe for fans of shutdown defense.
One of the contrasts in the preparation for this game was the offseason workouts. During the lockout, Drew Brees organized one of the most intensive player-organized workout programs in the league and the Saints had almost full attendance by their players. In contrast, the Packers didn’t gather as a team at all, and some questioned if the preparation would affect them in the opener. Rodgers was criticized by some in the media for not taking the lead and organizing workouts for the Packers.
After the game, Rodgers fired back, “What would’ve happened if we had offseason workouts? Would we have scored more points than that?”
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said, “I thought Aaron was outstanding. He had a big night. That’s the way Aaron plays. He sets the standard and he’s off to a great start.”
“We felt we had to get the game as high tempo as possible. It was a heavyweight fight and we had to get in as many punches as possible.”
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