Insider: Thumbs up to Lacy, down to run defense
THE BIG PICTURE
The Packers' four-game winning streak is over and they now trail the suddenly hot Detroit Lions by a game in the NFC North Division.
Next week's bye comes at an opportune time and the Packers have a chance to go on another streak of wins with home games against the Bears and Eagles before a road game at Minnesota.
But Green Bay had a chance to establish itself as the team to beat in the NFC with a victory. Instead, they're 5-3 at the midway point.
When Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Micah Hyde stopped Mark Ingram on fourth-and-2 with 11:46 left in the third quarter, giving the Packers the ball in a tie game, it looked like the turning point they needed to spark a victory.
But on the ensuing drive, Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception in 212 passes when the ball deflected off of Andrew Quarless' hand. The Saints took advantage when Drew Brees hit Brandin Cooks on a 50-yard touchdown pass over the middle for 23-16 lead.
Cooks beat Tramon Williams on the pattern as Brees threaded the pass just over Micah Hyde. Then things really started to unravel when, on the next drive, the Packers turned the ball over on downs.
New Orleans native Eddie Lacy's homecoming was bittersweet, emphasis on the bitter after the crushing loss.
But Lacy had a career day catching the ball with eight receptions for 123 yards, including a 67-yard screen pass that set up the Packers' first field goal.
He added another 59 yards on 13 rushes, and his 182 total yards are a season high. Lacy showed patience running the ball, waiting for his blocks, and power at the end of the run, breaking several tackles along the way.
There were a lot of culprits in the Packers' inability to stop the Saints' offense, but the worst of them was Green Bay's defense against the run.
Mark Ingram couldn't be stopped and, on Sunday night anyway, was the better of the former Alabama running backs. Ingram finished with 172 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. That was the most by a Saints running back since Deuce McAllister ran for 184 yards at Philadelphia in 2003.
Ingram entered the game with only 159 yards and started because Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas were out with injuries. Overall, the Saints ran for 193 yards.
DID YOU NOTICE?
• Jordy Nelson passed Ahman Green (350) for eighth most receptions in team history with 352. Next up is Greg Jennings (425).
• Green Bay's seven-game streak of holding the opposing starting quarterback to a passer rating below 85.0 ended with a thud when Drew Brees compiled a rating of 138.4.
• The Packers' October dominance took a hit as they dropped to 21-6 in October games since 2008. The Packers' entered the game having won their past 10 in a row and 16 of their past 17 in October.
• Sunday's game was the third in NFL history in which neither team punted. The Packers and Bears were involved in the second such game, earlier this season at Soldier Field.
• The Packers dropped to 5-5 in domes and 7-8 against non-North Division NFC teams since 2012.
RANTS AND RAVES
RANT: The Packers took a risk early in the game when they lined up 6-foot-7 linebacker Julius Peppers as a receiver on second-and-goal from the 3 with 6:55 left in the first quarter. The throw bounced off his hands for an incompletion and the Packers had to settle for a field goal after Aaron Rodgers was sacked on the next play. It was a lot to expect of a defensive player to make a catch in the end zone and ended up backfiring.
RAVE: The long-lost screen play returned Sunday night and the Packers had a lot of success with it. What once was a staple of the Green Bay offense has been AWOL for a couple of seasons, but it was a large factor in Eddie Lacy's career pass-receiving night.
RANT: The Packers failed 86 percent of the time on third down, converting only 1 of 7 opportunities. The numbers entering the game pointed to success for Green Bay: the Packers' offense had converted 44.6 percent of the time and the Saints' defense had allowed conversions 46.3 percent of the time. To make it worse, they failed twice on third-and-goal.