GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — As if bearing the brunt of the call that ultimately led to the end of the NFL’s replacement officials wasn’t enough, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers nearly had a big comeback win undone with a blunder by the regular refs.
Rodgers threw a go-ahead touchdown to Jordy Nelson in the fourth quarter, and the Packers shook off a week’s worth of controversy with a rally to beat the New Orleans Saints 28-27 on Sunday.
With Packers fans howling about what appeared to be yet another bad call — this time by the regular officials, not the replacements — Garrett Hartley missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with just under three minutes remaining, costing the Saints a shot at the lead.
Rodgers threw for 319 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for the Packers (2-2).
“I’m very proud of our football team, especially the week we’ve endured,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We talk a lot about integrity and character, and I thought today’s game had plenty of those types of situations where it showed up big.”
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards with three touchdowns for the winless Saints (0-4). Brees has thrown at least one touchdown in 47 straight regular-season games, tying the NFL’s all-time mark set by Johnny Unitas.
With the win, the Packers were able to put Monday night’s controversial replacement official-driven loss at Seattle behind them. But even with the regular refs back this week, the Packers and their fans still nearly were dealt a crushing blow on a blown call.
After Rodgers’ touchdown to Nelson, Darren Sproles appeared to fumble the ensuing kickoff but officials ruled that he was down by contact. Replays showed that the ball clearly came out but the Packers were out of replay challenges, leaving Packers fans screaming at the officials for the second week in a row.
McCarthy said he was frustrated because video replays “clearly illustrated” that it was a fumble.
Brees then led the Saints into field goal range, and Hartley hit a 43-yard attempt — but the Saints were called for holding, forcing Hartley to line up a 53-yarder. The Packers then were called for encroachment, leaving Hartley to try a 48-yarder and he missed it wide left.
It was a sigh of relief for the Packers, who spent most of the week in the middle of a nationwide firestorm after a last-second decision by replacement officials cost them a game at Seattle on Monday night. The play was a burden for the Packers to bear, but likely played a significant role in the NFL agreeing to a deal with its regular officials during the week.
Referee Jeff Triplette struck a triumphant tone during the pregame coin toss Sunday, announcing that “it’s great to be back, gentlemen!” A handful of Packers fans came to the game dressed as officials, and some brought signs showing support for the regular refs.
The honeymoon didn’t last long, though. Fans howled for an offensive pass interference call after Brees threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston late in the first quarter, but no flag was forthcoming. The boos intensified as a replay was shown on the stadium video boards.
With the Packers leading 21-14 in the third quarter, fans — and McCarthy — were on the officials again when McCarthy challenged a catch by Jimmy Graham but it wasn’t overturned.
The Packers had too many men on the field for a Saints field attempt later in the drive, giving New Orleans first-and-goal on the 1. But the defense held, forcing a 20-yard field goal by Hartley to cut the lead to 21-17 with 9:41 left in the third quarter.
Rodgers marched the Packers down the field again but needed attention from the team’s training staff after a face mask by New Orleans’ Malcolm Jenkins. Rodgers came out of the game for one play and backup quarterback Graham Harrell came in — then tripped and fumbled as he tried to hand it off, allowing the Saints to get the ball back in the middle of a scrum.
Brees then found Joseph Morgan wide open behind the defense, and Morgan shed tackling attempts from the Packers’ Sam Shields and Tramon Williams on his way to an 80-yard touchdown and a 24-21 lead with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
Things then got even worse for the Packers, as Rodgers then threw an interception to Patrick Robinson on a deep throw intended for Jordy Nelson. Brees then completed a pair of third-and-long situations, and the Saints drove for a 27-yard field goal by Hartley to take a 27-21 lead with 13:04 remaining.
With the Packers trailing by 6, Rodgers threw an 11-yard strike to Nelson as the Saints’ Corey White tried to wrap his arms around the ball at the same time as Nelson — briefly re-creating a scene eerily similar to the controversial game-ender in Seattle on Monday. This time, though, Nelson clearly came away with the ball and spiked it emphatically.
More Related Stories
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
- "Celebrity Apprentice" finale ratings hit a new low
- Worst National Anthem fails
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- "Game of Thrones," season 3, episode 8: A salon
- Bieber booed, Miguel falls on fan at Billboard Awards
- "Mad Men" recap: Love, acid and whores. Lots of whores
- Taylor Swift leads Billboard winners
- “Game of Thrones” recap: “We must do our duty”
- "The Unwinding": What's gone wrong with America
- Michael J. Fox wins: The best and worst of the new fall shows
- First look: The Coens' marvelous folk-music odyssey
- New York's most persecuted subway artist?
- James Franco: "I really felt I was in conversation with Faulkner"
- "Jodorowsky's Dune": The sci-fi classic that never was
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11