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Packers Defeat the Saints in Thrilling Opener, 42-34

Ingram falls short on a goalline run on the game's final play.


The Saints and Packers opened the NFL regular season in a thriller with Green Bay escaping Lambeau Field with a dramatic 42-34 win.

On first and goal at the one-yard line with no time on the clock, RB Mark Ingram was stuffed at the goal line to end the game.

"Credit Green Bay because they did a very good job," said Head Coach Sean Payton. "They did all the things you need to do to win a home game."

QB Drew Brees finished the game completing 32-49 for 419 yards with and three scores. Brees connected with TE Jimmy Graham and WRs Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem on his scoring strikes.

RB Darren Sproles had an electrifying debut Saints debut as he collected 250 all-purpose yards on 13 touches (19.2 avg).

He had the Saints biggest play of the night when he scored on a dazzling 72-yard punt return in the second quarter.

"(Sproles) is electric," said Payton. "He changed it for us. He gave us some momentum with the punt return. He makes great decisions in space."

Henderson led Saints receivers with six receptions for 100 yards. WR Marques Colston hauled in six catches for 81 yards.

Ingram led the Saints with 40 yards on 13 carries. Pierre Thomas added five carries for 31 yards.

S Roman Harper led the Saints with nine total tackles (seven solo) and a sack. DB Jabari Greer and LB Jonathan Vilma each had seven total tackles.

Big plays by both teams on offense and a game-breaking plays on special teams highlighted the NFL kickoff contest.

Green Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive starting at their 24-yard line after KR Randall Cobb's 27-yard kickoff return.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay on a nine-play, 76-yard drive, and ending with a seven-yard touchdown pass to WR Greg Jennings.

New Orleans started at the 20-yard line. On a second-and-seven play from the 23, Brees completed a 12-yard pass to Colston, the wideout fumbled on a play where Green Bay S Nick Collins knocked the ball loose and CB Tramon Williams recovered it. Seven plays later, Rodgers completed a three-yard scoring pass to WR Jordy Nelson.

When the Saints got the ball back, Brees quickly got back to work at the 20-yard line, the highlights being a pass to Sproles for a 36-yard gain. Three plays later on third and one, Brees completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Meachem to put the Saints within seven.

On Green Bay's next drive, Rodgers led the Packers on a six-play, 80-yard drive, which ended with a scoring thrown for a 32-yard gain to Cobb.
New Orleans started at the 19 for their next drive, which carried into the second quarter and ended with a 30-yard field goal by K John Kasay.

On the final play of the first quarter, Thomas had a 21-yard rush. Brees also completed an 18-yard throw to Graham and a 16-yard throw to WR Henderson.

New Orleans moved inside the 20 to set up the easy field goal, Ingram carried for a two-yard gain on third-and-one.

On the ensuing drive, the New Orleans defense forced Green Bay on their first three-and-out and then Sproles ran back the punt 72 yards into the end zone to put the Saints within four at 21-17. A key in the return play was a punishing block by Sproles' cousin WR Courtney Roby of Packers CB Pat Lee.

Green Bay got the ball back at their 20-yard line. The Packers drove back down the field on a drive where the highlights were 13-and 14-yard pass plays from Rodgers to Jennings and a 17-yard rushing touchdown by RB James Starks to put Green Bay up 28-17.

New Orleans was unable to move past the Green Bay 41-yard line on their final drive of the first half and were forced to punt. Rodgers kneeled to end the half.

To open the second half, New Orleans started out on the 20-yard line. After gaining only one yard on the first offensive play, Ingram gained nine yards on the next play for the first down.

After a failed play action attempt on the next first down play, Ingram then ran up the middle for nine yards, setting up third and one then converting it on a two-yard rush.

Brees then completed an out to Henderson for a gain of nine yards.

Ingram then converted his third first down of the series, with a five-yard rush. With a fresh set of downs in Green Bay territory, Thomas gained five yards on a pass play.

Brees then completed a ten-yard pass to Meachem to bring the Saints to the Green Bay 30. Brees then completed a short pass to Thomas, where he broke a tackle and turned it into a 15-yard gain to the 15. On first down, Ingram ran behind his blockers for a gain of three yards.

On second-and-seven, Brees threw into the end zone on a pass play where Graham tripped. On third down with Green Bay looking blitz, Packers LB Clay Matthews was called for offsides, creating a third-and-two.

However, the Saints were unable to take advantage as Packers LB Erik Walden dropped Brees for a loss of 13 yards. Kasay drilled a 38-yard field goal to put New Orleans within a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

Green Bay would jump back up to a 15-point lead though on a 108-yard kickoff return by Cobb to tie an NFL record.

Sproles would respond on an ensuing runback with a kickoff return for 57 yards, putting the Saints at the Green Bay 46-yard line for starting position. Following an intermediate throw to Colston, Brees found Henderson for a 29-yard grab near the goal line that he brought in the end zone for a touchdown that put New Orleans back within eight.

The New Orleans defense then forced the Packers into a three-and-out and Sproles return the punt 20 yards to the Packers 49-yard line. Brees first completed a pass for a first down to Henderson. On the next first down play, Brees handed off to Pierre Thomas and on the play, Packers CB Charles Woodson was called for an unnecessary roughness play following the five-yard rush, putting the ball at the Packers 16.

Sproles then took his first handoff as a Saint and ran left for seven-yard gain before being knocked out of bounds by Packers DB Sam Shields. On second-and-three, Thomas then moved for a gain of two.

On third-and-one, following New Orleans' first charged timeout of the second half, Brees handed off to Ingram, who was stopped by Packers DT Howard Green and De Jarius Wynn for no gain.

On fourth-and-one, New Orleans would go for it, with Brees being pressured and being forced to throw an incomplete pass.

With first down at their seven-yard line, Rodgers first handed off to Starks, who gained four yards before being stopped by DE Cameron Jordan. On second down, Greer was called for pass interference penalty that resulted in a 22-yard gain.

Rodgers then completed a 14-yard throw to Jennings and a nine-yard throw to Nelson to move Green Bay into Saints territory. On second-and-one, Starks converted the first down on a two-yard rush. On the final play of the third quarter, Packers RB Ryan Grant was stopped by LBs Vilma and Scott Shanle for only a two-yard gain.

With 11:50 remaining in the game, Rodgers drove the Packers to the 1-yard line where FB John Kuhn bulldozed his way for the score to put Green Bay ahead 42-27.

The Saints and Packers went scoreless for the next 10 minutes before Brees started to catch fire again and nailed Graham for a 5-yard touchdown with 2:15 left in the contest.

The Packers knocked off a minute on the clock before they were forced to punt.

With 1:16 left and starting from their own 20-yard line, Brees drove the Saints down the field to setup Ingram's game-ending run.

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