Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers were able to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, coming back from down 17 points in the fourth quarter against New Orleans. However, it was the play of the defense throughout that kept this game from totally getting out of hand, allowing the offense to make a late charge.
In total, the Packers defense held the New Orleans offense to only 10 points. After the Saints scored a touchdown on their second possession of the day, the Green Bay defense only allowed a field goal just before halftime and then held New Orleans scoreless the entire second half.
This defensive performance included three fourth-quarter possessions in which the Saints managed only one first down and ran just 11 total plays, allowing the Green Bay offense to have enough time to pull off the comeback as well.
"“I thought it was great,” said Matt LaFleur of the defense’s performance. “I’ve got to go back and look at the tape. I was wracking my brain and trying to figure out how to get a first down most of the game.“Our coaches work their butts off trying to come up with a plan to, in all phases, to attack whomever we are playing, and our players were battling and competing their butts off. They did a great job defensively. Joe Barry and that crew did a great job, and we really held them to 10 points. A lot of the credit goes to our defense today.”"
No, the Saints don’t have the same potent rushing attack that the Falcons do, but Green Bay held them to just 77 rushing yards on 22 carries, which averages out to only 3.5 yards per rush. The Packers did that while primarily playing cover-2 in an effort to take away the big pass play – which they did – an area where the Saints had been very effective through two games.
Derek Carr and Jameis Winston were both efficient, taking advantage of throws to the flat and underneath routes, combining to complete 23 of their 34 pass attempts, but the two averaged just 4.6 yards per pass attempt. For some context, that would have ranked 31st in the NFL through two games.
On third downs, the Saints were just 4-for-14, and the Packers were able to generate three third-down sacks, including four in total. New Orleans had only two red zone trips and scored a touchdown just once.
"“Rashan is a great player, a great leader for us,” said Jordan Love. “He’s the guy that has a huge impact on everyone on our defense and just to see him come back and make his presence felt and having the sacks he did it’s huge and he’s an emotional guy.“He brings everybody along and gives everybody a lot of juice. At halftime he’s the one guy that’s in there getting everybody going. He’s fired up. He’s passionate. It feels great to have a player like him on your team.”"
With the score the way that it was for most of the game, coupled with the Packers’ play style, it didn’t necessarily feel like a dominant performance from the defense. As already alluded to, it was a bit of a passive game plan approach by Green Bay choosing to sit in cover-2, which resulted in a high completion rate for the Saints’ quarterbacks.
As a result, the secondary wasn’t in much of a position to make plays on those pass attempts, either. The Saints were also able to work their way into field goal position at the end of the game.
However, ultimately, and what matters most, is that the defense kept points off the board, and while New Orleans was able to string together some first downs here and there, the Packers’ offense ran 11 more plays than the Saints did and held the ball for five more minutes. The point being that the Green Bay defense was largely getting off the field.
The Green Bay offense was sputtering for most of the game. They were unable to move the chains on third downs, were too often penalized, and, prior to the fourth quarter, had four trips into Saints territory that resulted in zero points. But the message from the defense at halftime was, ‘We got you.’ And they certainly did.
"“They said “we got you” and that’s what they did,” said Love. “We have a great defense and, when they do things like that, it gives everybody confidence. We know they’re going to go out there and get stops and they put on a show in the second half, really all game, but they did exactly what we needed, shut them down in the second half, and it was up to the offense to put up some points. Credit to them.”"