Drew Brees threw for a touchdown and ran for another, Mark Ingram rushed for a score and the New Orleans Saints overcame several mistakes to beat the Green Bay Packers 26-17 on Sunday.
Will Lutz kicked two second-half field goals, including a 44-yarder to put New Orleans up for good 19-17 with 10:26 left in the game. Brees’ 1-yard sneak gave the Saints a two-score lead with 4:55 left.
“It was a really important one. Third down, it makes it a two-possession game. That was huge,” Brees said.
The sloppy Saints were fortunate to get their fourth straight victory. The Packers lost their first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for injured star Aaron Rodgers.
New Orleans’ defense gave up a 46-yard touchdown run to rookie Aaron Jones on the opening drive. Brees was picked off twice in the first quarter. Lutz had a blocked extra point and New Orleans (4-2) was penalized seven times for 80 yards.
But the Saints pulled away late at overcast Lambeau Field, scoring on four second-half drives before running out the clock.
“Just find a rhythm. Had a couple mistakes. For me, just a couple poor throws,” Brees said about recovering from the early picks.
After holding the Packers (4-3) to a three-and-out inside the 20, New Orleans drove 55 yards in eight plays to seal the game with Brees’ sneak over the goal line.
Brees finished 27 of 38 for 331 yards with a touchdown. Ingram ran for 105 yards on 22 carries.
The Packers couldn’t generate big plays late without Rodgers. He’s out indefinitely with a broken right collarbone.
Instead, coach Mike McCarthy turned to a running game that initially threw off the Saints.
Jones had 131 yards on 17 carries. Hundley showed toughness in running for a 14-yard score to give Green Bay a 14-7 lead with 8:37 left in the second quarter.
But the Packers managed just a 46-yard field goal from Mason Crosby in the second half, which gave them a brief 17-16 lead.
The Saints took over from there, and the Packers couldn’t keep up through the air.
“I’m particularly disgusted with the second half,” 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.”
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.
‘’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.”
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.
Ted Ginn had 141 yards on seven catches, while fellow receiver Michael Thomas finished with 82 yards on seven receptions.
Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr made an emotional return to Lambeau Field. The 83-year-old Starr joined other former Packers 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.