Saints vs. Packers: Instant Grades, Analysis for Green Bay

Michael DulkaContributor ISeptember 30, 2012

Saints vs. Packers: Instant Grades, Analysis for Green Bay

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    The Green Bay Packers beat the New Orleans Saints 28-27 to improve to 2-2 on the season in a heart-stopping win. The win wasn't pretty towards the end, but the result is all that matters.

    Aaron Rodgers lead a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter that was capped off with an 11-yard completion to Jordy Nelson. The Saints missed a would have given them the lead with under three minutes to go and the Packers were able to run out the clock.   

    Check out the Packers positional grades for their thrilling victory.

    Final

    Packers- 28

    Saints- 27

Quarterbacks

1 of 10

    Aaron Rodgers–A-

    Rodgers played his best game of the season against the Saints and did enough to earn the win. Rodgers finished the afternoon completing 31 of 41 passes for 319 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The Packers' needed to put up points against the Saints and Rodgers responded.

    Graham Harrell–N/A

    Harrell was unfortunate to fumble the football on a botched exchange with Cedric Benson. Harrell wasn't fully responsible for the miscue, as the offensive linemen got pushed into the backfield right after the snap.  

     

Runningbacks

2 of 10

    Cedric Benson–A-

    Benson was strong from the start and got the Packers' offense going. Benson finished with an average of 4.7 yards per carry and his long was only nine yards, showing just how efficient he was. He didn't have any breakout runs, but almost always went forward and got necessary yards. 

    John Kuhn–B

    Kuhn did very well in pass protection and made the most of his only carry of the game. It was quite the important carry as it came on fourth-and-inches deep inside the Packers' territory on the fake punt. Kuhn continues to be very reliable in doing whatever job he is asked to do and doing it well. 

Wide Receivers

3 of 10

    Greg Jennings–B

    Jennings didn't play much after leaving the game because of his lurking groin injury. While in the game, Jennings was efficient and made the most of his time, with a nine yard touchdown catch on his three targets.

    Jordy Nelson–A-

    Nelson was very strong after not playing well to start the season. Nelson played the role of No. 1 receiver and caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. He created a ton of mismatches with his strength, speed and route-running.

    James Jones–A

    Jones built on his incredible start to the 2012 season with a five-catch, 56 yard, two touchdown performance. Jones was tonight, and has been, Mr. Reliable for Aaron Rodgers throughout the first four games of the season. Jones made an unbelievable catch on third down to end the game.

    Randall Cobb–B+

    Cobb was a big factor once again in his new role. He often lined up in the "Cobra" formation, and got out of the backfield to catch passes and create havoc for the defense. On multiple instances, Cobb's break out of the backfield pulled the attention of defenders, leaving other players wide open.

    Donald Driver–C

    Driver didn't have any opportunities, even with Greg Jennings barely playing a full quarter. Driver was targeted three times and came up with one catch and three yards.  

Tight Ends

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    Jermichael Finley–B+

    Finley was very good for the Packers, catching four of his five targets with 54 receiving yards. Finley had a drop in the end zone, but the Packers made up for it by scoring a touchdown on the drive. Finley was a strong safety-valve for Rodgers in the first half and made the Saints pay. 

    Tom Crabtree–B-

    Crabtree had a decent game in his return from a shoulder injury. He did a fine job blocking, but was called for a hold. He made up for that hold with a 16-yard reception to erase the penalized yardage as the Packers picked up a first down. 

    Ryan Taylor and D.J. Williams–N/A

Offensive Line

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    Marshall Newhouse–A-

    Newhouse had a solid game after playing poorly against the Seahawks. The Packers' offensive line gave up zero sacks after giving up eight in one half to the Seahawks. 

    T.J. Lang–B+

    Lang played well with the pressure of his new-found fame following last week's Twitter fame. While he played well, Lang was partly responsible for the fumble on Graham Harrell's only snap. Lang got blown up and pushed back, which was part of why Harrell tripped. 

    Jeff Saturday–A

    Saturday had a very strong game as no pressure really came from the middle of the line. There were also no communications on the line after it seemed they had no idea what they were doing last week. 

    Josh Sitton–B+

    Sitton also played well on the line, both in pass protection and run blocking. Sitton was whistled for an illegal hands to the face penalty, but the Packers were able to convert the first down. 

    Bryan Bulaga–A-

    After a horrendous performance against the Seahawks, Bulaga delivered a big bounce back performance. Bulaga deserves a lot of credit for the solid performance under immense pressure and playing with a knee injury. 

Defensive Line

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    C.J. Wilson–B+

    Wilson was very strong against the run as the Packers gave up just 45 rushing yards on 19 carries. Wilson also came up with a fourth quarter sack that temporarily slowed down the Saints' attack. 

    B.J. Raji–C-

    Raji got some good penetration on rushing downs, but failed to get any consistent push in the pass rush. Raji was also called for a bad personal foul in the third quarter that gave the Saints three more chances to get a touchdown instead of a field goal. Raji's teammates picked up the slack and forced a field goal.

    Jerel Worthy–C-

    Worhty got some push up front and worked a great stunt with Clay Matthews on Matthews' sack, but other than that, Worthy didn't have much of an impact. He was whistled for encroachment on 3rd-and-10, that gave the Saints a manageable third down that they converted.

    Ryan Pickett–B

    When in the game, Pickett did a good job on containing the run and was a big reason why the Packers had so much success stopping the Saints' ball-carriers. He missed a ton of action because of a shoulder injury.

    Mike Daniels–C

    Daniels did a fine job filling in for Pickett, but gave up five yards on the Saints' final field goal attempt. It proved to not be costly, but that just can't happen. The rookie needs to be more disciplined.  

Linebackers

7 of 10

    Clay Matthews–B

    Matthews was solid, but didn't do enough to change the game. After an incredible start to the season, Matthews was unable to get pressure on the quarterback for the majority of the game. He did a sack, but the Packers need him to do more. He did a nice job in the run game, often coming from behind the play as the Saints chose to run away from him.

    Nick Perry–D

    Perry spent the majority of the game on the bench as the coaching staff preferred Erik Walden and his pass rushing against the pass-heavy Saints. When he did come back in the game, Perry got pressure and forced an incompletion.

    D.J. Smith–B

    Smith had a big game, with a couple big plays and some big hits. He had the tough task of covering Darren Sproles and actually didn't get abused too badly. He had a huge hit on Sproles to force a fourth down and came up with a big tackle of Pierre Thomas for a four-yard loss. 

    A.J. Hawk–B-

    Hawk continues to play strong football and tackle well after struggling in that department last season. Hawk played well and wasn't initially visibly responsible for any of the big pass plays.

    Erik Walden–D

    Brought on because of his pass rushing ability, Walden failed to have much of an impact in the game. He struggled to get pressure on Drew Brees and finished with two tackles.

    Dezman Moses–C+

    Moses won't show up on the scoresheet for forcing a fumble, but replays showed it was a brilliant hit that jarred the ball loose. The Packers were the victims of another bad call, as the refs called him down instead of awarding the fumble. 

Defensive Backs

8 of 10

    M.D. Jennings–N/A

    Jennings suffered a shoulder injury early in the second quarter and didn't return to the field. Against the pass-heavy Saints, Jennings would have seen plenty of time on the field.

    Morgan Burnett–C-

    Burnett will want to move on quickly from his performance. He was part of two unfortunate moments for the Packers. He was part of the miscommunication with Sam Shields that cost the Packers an 80-yard touchdown and with Tramon Williams that cost the Packers an interception.

    Jerron McMillian–B-

    McMillian got some interesting looks in the Packers' defense, lining up in the position usually reserved for an inside linebacker. McMillian did well in the position and throughout the game. He got pretty lucky on a Sproles drop where he was beat, but overall it was a good outing for the rookie.

    Charles Woodson–B

    Woodson was definitely fired up after last week's events. He came out with some inspired play and seemed to fuel the Packers' defense spirit. Woodson spent the majority of the game right around the ball with 11 total tackles.

    Tramon Williams–A-

    Williams was strong once again and played a big part in keeping the Saints out of the end zone. Following the B.J. Raji penalty that gave the Saints three more chances at a touchdown, Williams did a fabulous job breaking up a pass to Jimmy Graham. Williams should have had an interception, but a miscommunication with Burnett saw the ball fall to the ground.

    Sam Shields–C

    Shields was beat deep for an 80-yard touchdown, but had a decent game outside of that moment. He played physical and wrapped up on his tackles. He didn't wrap up on the long touchdown, but took a decent shot at creating a fumble on the play.

    Casey Hayward–C+

    Hayward played a solid game and is making it hard for Davon House to crack the rotation. Hayward had one pass deflection and did a strong job covering Jimmy Graham on a third down that forced the Saints to punt and give the Packers good field position in the fourth quarter.

    Jarrett Bush–C

    Bush had a decent game on special teams. He didn't make any big plays, but getting down the field quickly is crucial against a good return team.  

Special Teams

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    Mason Crosby–B

    Crosby did everything he was asked to do. He made all four of his extra points and did well to kick the ball deep on his kickoffs. 

    Tim Masthay–B

    Masthay only punted twice on the night, but made the most of his opportunities with an average of 41 yards per punt. He dropped the Saints inside the 10-yard line as part of the possessions that flipped the field position and give the Packers good field position to score their game-winning touchdown. 

    Randall Cobb–B

    Cobb did a good job on his returns with three returns for 88 yards total and an average of 29.3 yards per return. While the yardage is solid, Cobb does a great job helping the Packers win the field position battle and posses a threat to score on any play.  

Coaching

10 of 10

    Mike McCarthy–B

    McCarthy bounced back from a subpar coaching performance against the Seahawks with a strong game against the Saints. After a horrendously frantic ending to Monday night's game, McCarthy's team was ready to go and in the right frame of mind to win the game. He made a great call to go for the fake punt and keep the drive alive.  

    Dom Capers–C+

    Defensively, Dom Capers had a solid game, but more pressure on the quarterback would have put the game away much earlier. That's a tough task as Brees gets the ball out incredibly quick, but the Packers have the personnel to do it.

    Shawn Slocum–A

    Once again, the Packers' special teams unit was the difference. In the two wins this year, the Packers' special teams have played great and come up with huge plays.