In the matchup between the immovable object vs. the irresistible force, the immovable object was blown into the Gulf of Mexico.
Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints' offense sliced and diced the Packers' sublime pass defense in shocking fashion in New Orleans' 51-29 drubbing of Green Bay on Monday night at the Superdome.
The only thing worse than a horrific third quarter was the NFC North Division standings at the end of Monday. The Packers' loss, combined with wins by Minnesota and Chicago, put Green Bay (5-6) a game behind those teams in the division standings with five games remaining.
Green Bay's defense forced a three-and-out punt to start the game, then watched the Saints (6-5) — minus the electric Reggie Bush, no less — score seven touchdowns and a field goal on their next nine possessions.
"We didn't slow them down at all tonight," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Before the game, Saints coach Sean Payton downplayed the matchup between the Saints' top-ranked pass defense and the Packers' third-ranked pass defense. But Brees, who is on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing record, was a maestro.
He completed 13 consecutive passes in the first half, and was brilliant in ruining what ESPN no doubt was hoping would be a down-to-the-wire shootout. Brees completed 7-of-10 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter, when the Saints outscored the Packers 21-0 to turn a 24-21 edge-of-the-seater into a 45-21 romp in less than 13 minutes.
"You look at them on tape, and they're the best in the league," Brees said of the Packers' secondary. "We knew we had to be extremely accurate and obviously win the one-on-one matchups."
The Saints' offense, which averaged more than 10 yards per snap in the first half, methodically marched 80 yards on 14 plays to take a 31-21 lead on the first possession of the third quarter. Brees, facing nothing resembling a pass rush, converted a third-and-8 and a third-and-15 before picking on outclassed linebacker A.J. Hawk for an easy 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Billy Miller.
"We knew we had to answer and we didn't," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We made a couple of mistakes."
Rodgers, who was superb running the Packers' play-action passing game in the first half, was intercepted on the second play of the ensuing possession when Jason David jumped a deep out to Greg Jennings off play action and returned the ball inside the 5-yard line. Rodgers said he called the wrong route adjustment but felt Jennings would have made the catch had he not slipped and fell.
Deuce McAllister bulled through an arm-tackling defense for the touchdown to make it 38-21.
Then, after an exchange of interceptions and a Packers punt, Marques Colston burned the impeccable Charles Woodson for a 70-yard touchdown. Suddenly, it was 45-21, and considering the Packers' defense didn't know the question, much less had any answers for the Saints' offense, this one was over.
Brees finished a brilliant 20-of-26 for 323 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating of 157.5 was just a whisker below a perfect 158.3.
Rodgers, aided again by hard-charging Ryan Grant, was terrific in the first half but finished with three total touchdowns and three interceptions (he was picked off in the end zone on a fourth-down pass in the fourth quarter). His rating of 59.8 was his second-worst of the season, behind a 55.9 in a loss at Tampa Bay.
Simply put, Rodgers — the fourth-ranked passer in the NFL entering the game — was unable to match Brees in this shootout. And a lousy Saints secondary was buoyed by an electric crowd — watching their team play their first home game in 42 days — once the Packers were forced to air it out on every snap.
The Packers are 5-0 when Rodgers has a rating topping 100. They're 0-6 otherwise.
Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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