Green Bay, Wis. • 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 by a blunder from 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 Lambeau Field 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 that cost the Saints a shot at the lead.
"We've probably had to deal with more adversity than most of the teams I've played with, especially early on we've had some interesting games already," Rodgers said. "We're four games in. So, I think the character of this team is very strong. Winning games like this says a lot about the kind of men that we have."
Rodgers threw for 319 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for the Packers (2-2).
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards with three touchdowns for the winless Saints (0-4).
"Yeah, it's disappointing," Brees said of the loss. "It stinks. But despite where we're at, right now I think this team's going to do something."
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.
"You guys were all happy that the officials were back, and we tried to tell you that they'd still get booed," Nelson said with a laugh.
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. Packers 28,Saints 27
New Orleans 7 7 10 3 27
Green Bay 7 14 0 7 28
GB • Ja.Jones 12 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 9:02.
NO • Colston 20 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 3:33.
GB • G.Jennings 9 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 14:15.
GB • Ja.Jones 14 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 4:50.
NO • Sproles 6 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), :27.
NO • FG Hartley 20, 9:41.
NO • Morgan 80 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 3:49.
NO • FG Hartley 27, 13:04.
GB • Nelson 11 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 7:00.
First downs 25 30
Total Net Yards 474 421
Rushes-yards 19-45 25-102
Passing 429 319
Punt Returns 1-4 0-0
Kickoff Returns 3-91 3-88
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 35-54-0 31-41-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-17 0-0
Punts 3-36.0 2-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 10-72 7-43
Time of Possession 30:28 29:32
Rushing • New Orleans, Sproles 5-20, P.Thomas 9-14, Ingram 5-11. Green Bay, Benson 18-84, Rodgers 5-13, Kuhn 1-5, Harrell 1-0.
Passing • New Orleans, Brees 35-54-0-446. Green Bay, Rodgers 31-41-1-319.
Receiving • New Orleans, Colston 9-153, J.Graham 7-76, Moore 7-67, Sproles 5-44, P.Thomas 2-(minus 1), Morgan 1-80, Collins 1-12, Henderson 1-10, D.Thomas 1-6, Ingram 1-(minus 1). Green Bay, Nelson 8-93, Cobb 7-66, Ja.Jones 5-56, Finley 4-54, Benson 4-22, Crabtree 1-16, G.Jennings 1-9, Driver 1-3.
Missed Field Goals • New Orleans, Hartley 48 (WL).