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Packers 42, Saints 34

Packers win a wild one

Ingram stopped at goal line on final play

By Chris Jenkins
Associated Press / September 9, 2011

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GREEN BAY, Wis. - A Super Bowl hangover and the NFL lockout weren’t about to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The New Orleans Saints just couldn’t keep up.

Rodgers came out on top in a memorable opening-night duel with Drew Brees, and the Packers made a goal-line stand on the final play of the game to beat the Saints, 42-34, last night.

Packers rookie Randall Cobb caught a touchdown pass from Rodgers and ran a kickoff back 108 yards for a score in the third quarter - tying an NFL record for the longest kickoff return in history.

Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

“It’s a good night for us,’’ Rodgers said. “I felt good about the way that I was throwing the ball.’’

Brees threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns, including a late touchdown to Jimmy Graham that cut the lead to 8 with 2:15 left.

After a Green Bay punt, Brees marched the Saints to the Packers’ 9-yard line and spiked the ball with three seconds left. On the next play, Green Bay’s A.J. Hawk was called for pass interference and the ball was placed at the 1.

Led by Clay Matthews and Morgan Burnett, the Packers defense swarmed Saints rookie Mark Ingram short of the goal line and the game was over.

“You’ve got to get a yard,’’ Ingram said. “It’s goal line to win the game, got to get a yard.’’

It was a big night for Donald Driver, who tied James Lofton’s Packers franchise mark for receiving yards (9,656).

Rodgers wanted to get him the record at home.

“We tried to get him the ball again, we just didn’t have an opportunity,’’ Rodgers said.

Cobb’s big return gave the Packers a 35-20 lead, but the game wasn’t over. Darren Sproles answered with a long kickoff return of his own, and Brees drove the Saints for a 29-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson.

The Saints forced a punt and marched to the Packers’ 7-yard line, but failed on a fourth-down attempt and gave the ball back to the Packers.

Green Bay drove again, and Rodgers handed the ball to John Kuhn on third and goal for a 1-yard touchdown and a 42-27 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Packers’ defensive struggles made for some nervous late moments, but they came through when they had to.

Rodgers led the Packers to touchdowns on their first three possessions, taking a 21-7 lead. The Saints rallied for a field goal, then cut the deficit to 21-17 on Sproles’s 72-yard punt return for a score, but the Packers marched right back down the field for a 17-yard TD run by James Starks and went into halftime leading, 28-17.

The Saints marched to the Green Bay 7-yard line on the first possession of the second half. But Erik Walden sacked Brees on third and 2, forcing a 38-yard field goal by John Kasay that cut the Packers’ lead to 28-20.

The ensuing kickoff went to Cobb, who fielded the ball deep in the Packers’ end zone but took it out anyway. Cobb spun off a tackling attempt by Leigh Torrence, put his hand down to keep his balance, then rambled to the end zone.

Cobb’s 108-yard return tied an NFL record set by New England’s Ellis Hobbs in September 2007. It also was the Packers’ first kickoff return for a touchdown since Allen Rossum in 2000.

The Saints came right back, benefiting from a 15-yard personal foul on Charles Woodson after he struck a Saints player; New Orleans coach Sean Payton lobbied for an ejection from the sideline, but Woodson stayed in the game.

Facing fourth and 1 at the Green Bay 6, the Saints went for it - and Matthews flushed Brees out of the pocket, forcing him to throw a pass that fell incomplete.

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