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Mike Vandermause column: Freefalling Packers find way to right ship, season

Sep. 30, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson spikes the ball after making a touchdown reception against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson spikes the ball after making a touchdown reception against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

In light of the final 10 minutes of Sunday’s game, all is forgiven.

All the bad things that plagued the Green Bay Packers might just as well be a distant memory after their stirring, come-from-behind 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.

Forget about how perilously close the Packers came to opening their season with an abysmal 1-3 record.

Forget about the botched calls, this time by supposedly competent regular officials.

Forget about Graham Harrell’s inexcusable fumble at the Saints’ 2-yard line that cost his team a touchdown.

Forget about Aaron Rodgers’ third-quarter interception that should have gone for a Packers touchdown.

Forget about the blown coverage in the secondary, in which little-used Saints receiver Joseph Morgan slipped behind the Packers’ secondary and was wide open on an 80-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

Forget about defenders Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett colliding and squandering a chance to intercept Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the fourth quarter deep in Saints territory.

Forget about the offense going into a funk and not scoring during a 29-minute stretch in which the Packers got outscored 20-0 and lost a two-touchdown lead.

Everything that possibly could go wrong for the Packers most assuredly did, and their outlook appeared bleak when the Saints took possession with 10:46 remaining holding a 27-21 lead.

That’s when the Packers somehow steadied themselves, pulled out of their tailspin and took back the game and their season.

“I think it says a lot about the character of this team,” Rodgers said. “This was an important win for us.”

Credit the Packers’ defense with keeping Drew Brees and the Saints’ explosive offense off the scoreboard on the final two possessions.

And give the Packers’ offense its due for coming up huge on the final two drives. On the first, the Packers drove 57 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, with Rodgers completing five of six passes for 49 yards. On the second, the Packers picked up a first down to seal the victory.

Rodgers didn’t want to consider how devastating a defeat would have been.

“1-3 would have made that very difficult, I think,” Rodgers said. “When you start having consecutive losses, you can’t help but have that thinking of, ‘Here we go again’ at times. Unfortunately, there was a little bit of that tonight with some of the calls, but we were able to overcome it.”

The Packers have been forced to overcome a lot in the last week, including the bitter taste of last Monday’s loss in Seattle that was decided on the final play by an official’s blown call.

“There’s a lot of good things that come out of this win,” said McCarthy, whose team lost the turnover battle 2-0 and was outgained in total yards 446 to 319.

“That’s big stuff is the way I look at it.”

The Packers barely resembled an elite team in the first four games, but if their finish against the Saints is any indication, better things are ahead.

Maybe the Packers should be feeling more relief than jubilation after beating the 0-4 Saints, who seem a bit out of sync without suspended coach Sean Payton.

But after what the Packers have been through, they aren’t going to get choosy about victories.

Their modest 2-2 record, along with the final 10 minutes of stellar play, is something to build on.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
574 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1015 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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