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Green Bay holds on, beats New Orleans on NFL opening night

by Derrick Johnson on September 9, 2011

The NFL season kicked off Thursday night and if it's any indication of things to come it should be a wild one. The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers used their high-powered offense to out-duel the New Orleans Saints 42-34 before 70,555 raucous fans at Lambeau Field.

Although the game was filled with scoring, it was a defensive stand that made the difference. Down by eight and with the ball placed at the 1-yard-line after a pass interference call, the Saints had one last opportunity to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. However, rookie running back Mark Ingram was swarmed by a group of Packers led by linebacker Clay Matthews to preserve the win.

"Obviously, you'd love to have a blowout, but I think it represents everything that we preach, which is finishing games," Matthews told the Associated Press. "And it comes down to the very last play – we win, or they have an opportunity to tie it up. I think it's fantastic to overcome that adversity, get the stop that we needed and get off the field with the victory."

Despite the defensive stand it was a Packers rookie on offense who stole the show. Randall Cobb scored two touchdowns, including one on a dizzying 108 yards kickoff return for a score, tied for the second-longest play in NFL history.

Cobb wasn't the only speedster to bring a kick back, however. In the second quarter, Saints return man Darren Sproles returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown of his own.

The New Orleans offense was impressive as well. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns, and brought the Saints within one yard of potentially tying the game in a furious 80-yard drive with less than two minutes remaining.

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