Saints beat Packers for 4th straight win
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Another road game, another good win for the New Orleans Saints.
They can draw upon the 26-17 victory on Sunday over the Green Bay Packers for a shot of confidence in tough situations later this season and, if they keep this up, in the playoffs, too.
Drew Brees bounced back from two first-quarter interceptions to throw for a touchdown and run for another, and Mark Ingram rushed for a score to help the Saints (4-2) win their third straight road game and fourth overall.
“At halftime, you could have, against this team, easily have been down 14, 21 points,” coach Sean Payton said.
But they only trailed 14-7 at the half to the Packers, who didn’t convert the turnovers into points. They also didn’t have the ultimate closer on the field in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so backup Brett Hundley made his first NFL start.
“We were down seven and kind of looking at each other (at halftime) like, ‘Let’s go,'” Payton said.
Will Lutz kicked two second-half field goals, including a 44-yarder to put New Orleans up for good 19-17 with 10:21 left in the game. Brees’ 1-yard sneak gave the Saints a two-score lead with 4:55 left.
Brees finished 27 of 38 for 331 yards, while Ingram ran for 105 yards on 22 carries.
“I’m particularly disgusted with the second half,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “As a head coach, when your team doesn’t perform and drops off the way it did in the second half, I’m disappointed.”
The Saints pulled away late at overcast Lambeau Field, scoring on four second-half drives before running out the clock. It’s a good sign for a club hoping to make its first playoff appearance since the 2013 season.
“I wouldn’t call us a dominant team, but we’re striving to be that type of team,” Brees said. “I think what I like is that we’re encountering a lot of different situations and things in games and finding different ways to win.”
The Packers (4-3) are in transition with Rodgers sidelined indefinitely by a broken right collarbone. They had success running the ball behind 131 yards on 17 carries for rookie Aaron Jones, who scored a 46-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive.
But Green Bay couldn’t generate big plays late trailing by two scores, the kind of situation in which Rodgers thrives.
Hundley finished 12 of 25 for 87 yards. He was intercepted by safety Kenny Vaccaro on a deep ball down the middle of the field with 4:20 left, ending the Packers’ comeback bid.
Hundley rushed for 44 yards on three carries, including a 14-yard touchdown run, but finished 12 of 25 passing for 87 yards. It’s up to McCarthy to get Hundley more comfortable dropping back.
“I needed to get a much better job of him working the drop-back passing game,” McCarthy said. “He tried to do a little too much and tried to go against it, but he’s competitive. He made some big, big plays with his feet, and we’ll grow from that.”
Brees added another milestone to his impressive 17-year career, becoming the fourth player in NFL history with at least 500 touchdown passes, including the playoffs. He joined Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
New Orleans’ Ted Ginn had 141 yards on seven catches, while fellow receiver Michael Thomas finished with 82 yards on seven receptions. But the Packers’ playmakers in the passing game were limited with Hundley running the offense. Tight end Martellus Bennett was the leading receiver with 17 yards on two catches. Jones had three catches for 7 yards.
“The name of the game is we have to execute,” Hundley said. “I didn’t play well enough, we didn’t score enough points to win the game.”
Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr made an emotional return to Lambeau Field. The 83-year-old Starr joined other former Packers greeted with standing ovations when the organization honored members of the 1967 championship team. That squad that won the “Ice Bowl” against the Dallas Cowboys before taking the title against the Oakland Raiders. Starr is recovering from two strokes and a heart attack suffered in 2014.
Saints starting right guard Larry Warford did not return after halftime because of an abdominal strain.