Packers-Saints: Key to the Game

The Saints rolled up and down the field but it's the 1 yard they didn't get that was critical as the Packers won 28-27.

The New Orleans Saints tore the Green Bay Packers' defense to shreds to the tune of 474 yards.

It was the 1 yard they didn't get, however, that was the defining moment in the Packers' critical 28-27 victory on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Saints trailed 21-7 in the second quarter but got back in the game just before halftime with an 80-yard touchdown drive. With the ball coming out of intermission, the Saints figured they were in good shape. And, indeed, they were, thanks to two gifts.

The first came on third-and-5 early in the drive. Drew Brees threw a bad ball to Jimmy Graham, which the star tight end had to reach back to grab. The play was ruled a catch, which coach Mike McCarthy promptly challenged to presumably force a punt. Inexplicably, the play was upheld, even though the ball hit the ground and Graham never had control. That gave the Saints 8 yards and a first down.

Completions of 26 yards to Marques Colston and 11 yards on Lance Moore helped the Saints get into scoring position. The drive bogged down and the Saints kicked a chip-shot field goal. That's when the Saints were given their second gift. The Packers were flagged twice — for too many men on the field and unnecessary roughness by B.J. Raji.

That gave the Saints first-and-goal at the 1 but the Packers' defense held firm. On first down, a quick pass in the flat to Mark Ingram lost a yard when he was dropped immediately by safety Morgan Burnett. On second down, the Packers rushed six and Brees' pass to Colston in the end zone was perfectly defensed by Tramon Williams. On third-and-goal, the Packers rushed seven and Brees' pass to Graham was broken up by Williams, who read the route and drove decisively on the ball.

After the play, Raji put a big bear hug on Williams for getting him off the hook.

While the Saints went 2-for-4 in the red zone, the Packers scored four touchdowns on five trips inside the Saints' 20. That, in essence, was the deciding factor as the Saints outgained the Packers 474-421 and won the turnover battle 2-0.

"It's big," McCarthy said. "When you're scoring touchdowns and they're kicking field goals, obviously you got a chance that's for sure. We were minus-2 in the turnover ratio. That's huge for your football team. That's adversity. That's overcoming negative situations. When you're able to overcome that in a game, that is a huge confidence builder for our football team."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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