Every NFL game has a turning point when a game still in the balance gets pushed strongly in one direction. It was reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers who provided the turning point of the New Orleans Saints’ 38-3 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 on Sunday.
The Packers, despite a nightmarish first half, had a chance to cut the Saints’ lead to seven points with a touchdown to open the second half. The game was finally starting to swing Green Bay’s way, but a rare mistake from Rodgers turned the Packers’ comeback attempt into a Saints blowout.
After leading the offense to a late field goal to end the first half, Rodgers had the Packers back on the move and knocking on the door at the Saints’ 9-yard line to start the third quarter. Instead of scoring a touchdown and cutting the lead to 17-10, Rodgers got pressured into a big mistake. With pressure from his right and the pocket collapsing on 2nd-and-7, he threw behind Davante Adams on a crosser and right into the arms of rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo.
Rodgers said the interception “swung things big time” and “changed the game.”
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 12, 2021
The back-breaking interception was Rodgers’ first red-zone interception since 2019.
The Saints didn’t score following the turnover, but the Packers missed their best opportunity to get back into the game, and Matt LaFleur’s team never threatened again. Rodgers threw another interception a possession later, setting up a Saints touchdown, and the rout was on.
The turning point play was a mistake from the quarterback created by a protection breakdown. Rookie right guard Royce Newman got beat immediately, and when left guard Lucas Patrick also got beat as Rodgers was attempting to escape the pocket, he had to get rid of the ball under immense pressure. The result was a poor throw. Adams was open, but Rodgers threw well behind.
“They got him off the spot. He had to make an off-platform throw,” LaFleur said.
Even after falling behind 17-0, the Packers had a chance to score 10 straight points and get within one score to open the second half. At 17-10, anything was possible. Missing the opportunity was the end of the Packers’ comeback attempt.