Sunday, September 30, 2012

2012 Week 4 - Packers beat Saints

The Green Bay Packers capped what ended up personally being one of the best weekends in a long time, despite the Brewers being officially eliminated from the playoffs and the Meltdown at Medinah, with an important win over the New Orleans Saints to improve to 2-2 while the Saints shockingly dropped to 0-4.

As I've said in the past, I am only going to have lengthy posts about regular season Packers games that I attend. Even last week I just posted my tweets and re-tweets instead of writing a full post despite the Packers' "loss" to the Seahawks being possibly the most notorious loss in franchise history. Instead of dwelling on that unfortunate result anymore, let's recap this weekend.

I spent most of the weekend in Door County with Cheesehead Chick, Mama Cheese, Papa Cheese, and In-Law-Cheese. On the way up to Door County we stopped at Lambeau Field to shop at the Packers Pro Shop, visit to the Green Bay Packers Hall-of-Fame, and capped it off with a Lambeau Field Stadium Tour.

It is pretty amazing how nice of a field the Packers have to go along with an amazing stadium. Add in that Lambeau Field will only get better once they add another 6,700 seats in the south end zone and despite being a biased Packers fans, Lambeau Field is truly the best sports venue in North America and possibly the world.

Despite being a lifelong Packer fan, I've never done a stadium tour. Trust me, even non-sports fans would enjoy the tour. Towards the end of the tour you get to walk down the same tunnel that the Packers do before the game with the entry music playing. Needless to say, the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end.

In fact, in the picture to the immediate right I am standing on one of Mike Sherman's only positive legacies on the franchise.  For those that don't know, Sherman was head coach and somehow foolishly became dual coach and general manager when Ron Wolf retired in 2001.  When the Packers renovated Lambeau Field, Sherman decided to take the bricks that almost every Packer in franchise history walked over and had them relocated to the new tunnel where the players enter Lambeau Field.  Trust me, I am not a fan of Mike Sherman since I think he presided over a number of horrible drafts and failed to turn some of Favre's best seasons into Super Bowl victories, but I do appreciate that one bit of genius he instilled on the franchise.

After finishing the Lambeau Field Stadium Tour, we spent Friday night through Sunday morning in Door County (thumb of Wisconsin) enjoying all things Door County. For those that have never been, Door County is great in the fall because the leaves are changing colors and the crowds are a little smaller. Add in that we had perfect fall weather in the mid-60's and it was truly a magical family weekend in Cheesehead country.

We got back to Lambeau Field in time to see per-game warm ups, which was nice because usually we are rushing to our seats since we are trying to spend as much time as humanly possible tailgating. If you've never been to Lambeau Field or Miller Park before, make sure to arrive at least three hours before the game is supposed to start because tailgating in Cheesehead country is serious business.  Thanks to Brother Pat and Pat Gilroy we were able to trade some seats so that the six of us could sit together along with 70,565 other lucky fans on a beautiful fall Cheesehead day in the mid-60's.

Going into the game, I made three predictions:
#1) Wide receiver Randall Cobb would throw a pass
#2) Tight End Jermichael Finley would have over 100 yards receiving
#3) Defensive back Charles Woodson would have a pick-six

The Packers went 0-for-3 on my predictions but Cheesehead Chick went 1-for-1 on predictions. The Packers were facing a 4th and 1 at our own (I am a part owner) 17 yard-line in the second quarter.  Right before the snap, Cheesehead Chick said to Papa Cheese and me: how about a fake?  We laughed that off saying that was a crazy idea. Low and behold, head coach Mike McCarthy called a fake punt and Kuhn picked up five yards for a first down. Give Cheesehead Chick credit, that is a call a head coach makes once or twice in a career.

A few more non-ref-centric thoughts before I remind fans that the "real" refs are just as fallible as the replacement refs:
#1) The Packers held the Saints to a field goal despite facing 1st and goal at the 1 yard-line.  I don't expect that to happen again this season but was impressive to see in-person.
#2) Rodgers got poked in the eye (thankfully not a concussion) and backup quarterback Graham Harrell tripped over center Jeff Saturday, which lead to a Cedric Benson fumble on the goal line. Instead of the Packers going up 28-17, the Saints capitalized on the turnover to go up 24-21.
#3) If you are wondering why, I love the Green Bay Packers so much, check out the picture of Papa Cheese and me with four of our closest friends.

After last weeks debacle by the replacement officials on Monday Night Football, the "real" officials had their own set of calamities:
#1) Replays on the impressive new replay screens at Lambeau Field show that Marques Colson clearly committed offensive pass interference on the Saints' first touchdown.
#2) The officials didn't overturn the Packers' 2nd challenge, giving the Saints an unwarranted first down.
#3) Last and certainly worst, Saints' return man Darren Sproles fumbled the kickoff return with 7 minutes remaining and the Packers up 28-27.  For some reason the officials called it "down by contact" but if they wold have called it a fumble, the play would have been reviewed automatically by rule.  McCarthy deserves some blame here because he already exhausted both of his challenges but the officials should have called it a fumble and then reviewed the play to make sure they got it correct since they were not sure even after conferencing for at least a minute.

As they did most of the game, the Saints marched down the field to get into field goal range trailing by just a point.  The Saints even momentarily had 30 points on the board thanks to kicker Garrett Hartley making a 43 yard field goal.  The points came off board thanks to a hold on the field goal attempt by Saints tight end David Thomas. That pushed the Saints back to the 35 yard-line. A neutral zone infraction by Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels moved the ball back to the 30 yard-line.  Hartley was unable to make the 48 yard kick that mattered, so the Packers lead 28 to 27 with a little less than 3 minutes remaining in the game.

After a couple Cedric Benson runs the Packers faced a 3rd and 3 at their own 45 yard-line.  The Packers had to pick-up the first down to seal a victory otherwise they would have been forced to give the ball back to Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense.  As a guy who had to sweat out that exact scenario last year in the home opener, I was not looking for a repeat.

Normally a conservative play caller, McCarthy called a risky pass. The Saints defender Jabari Greer did not play the ball so despite being interfered with, wide receiver James Jones still came up with the 8 yard catch. If that pass were broken up, or worse intercepted, McCarthy would be second guessed much like the fake punt call discussed earlier.  Fortunately the Packers completed the pass to win 28-27.

Before we get too excited, let's not look past the fact that the Saints out gained the Packers (474 to 421) because the defense could not keep Drew Brees in check (35 for 54, 446 passing yards, and 3 touchdowns) or get off the field on 3rd down (Saints converted 9 of 17 attempts).

Credit McCarthy though, despite going 0-for-2 on challenges (should have been 1-for-2), he went 2-for-2 ballsy calls to help propel the Packers to a much needed win.

If I had to hand out the players of the game:
#3) The not always sure handed James Jones made a number of big catches finishing with 5 catches for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns catches.
#2) Offensive line.  After giving up 8 sacks in the first half against the Seahawks, they played 6 consecutive quality quarters of football.
#1) Aaron Rodgers was 31 for 41, throwing for 319 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception for a QB rating of 119.

"Sunday Funday" is a cheesy (no pun intended) but a perfect way to describe the Packers' win over the Saints.  It was the first game at Lambeau Field for In-Law-Cheese.  Hopefully we can turn this into an annual or bi-annual tradition for the six of us because I had blast all weekend.  There is really nothing better than spending a glorious fall weekend in Door County that is topped off with a Packers' victory.

No comments:

Post a Comment