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Champion Packers Hold Off Saints In NFL’s Return To Football

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – A Super Bowl hangover and the NFL lockout weren’t about to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The New Orleans Saints just couldn’t keep up.

Rodgers came out on top in a memorable opening-night duel with Drew Brees, and the Packers made a goal-line stand on the final play of the game to beat the Saints 42-34 on Thursday night.

Packers rookie Randall Cobb caught a touchdown from Rodgers and ran a kickoff back 108 yards for a score in the third quarter — tying an NFL record for the longest kickoff return in history.

Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Brees threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns, including a late touchdown to Jimmy Graham that cut the lead to 8 with 2:15 left.

After a Green Bay punt, Brees marched the Saints to the Packers 9-yard line and spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. Green Bay’s A.J. Hawk was called for pass interference and the ball was placed at the 1.

The Packers defense swarmed rookie Mark Ingram, and the game was over.

It was a big night for Donald Driver, who tied James Lofton’s franchise mark for career yards receiving with 9,656.

Cobb’s big return gave the Packers a 35-20 lead, but the game wasn’t over. Darren Sproles answered with a long kickoff return of his own, and Brees drove the Saints for a 29-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson.

The Saints forced a punt and marched to the Packers’ 7-yard line, but failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt and gave the ball back to the Packers.

Green Bay drove again, and Rodgers handed the ball to John Kuhn on third-and-goal for a 1-yard touchdown and a 42-27 lead early in the fourth quarter.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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