Of all the plays that helped turn the tide of Sunday’s incredible 18-17 Packers win over the Saints at Lambeau Field, one that is probably easy to overlook from a Green Bay standpoint is the second sack by Rashan Gary, who wound up with a stellar three-sack performance on the day.
Gary pinned his ears back on a third-and-9 with a little more than 10 minutes to play in the third quarter and the Saints ahead, 17-0. He fought off tackle Ryan Ramczyk and got to quarterback Derek Carr, spinning him to the ground with a high tackle. It was clear something went wrong for Carr—he stayed on the turf, and eventually walked off with a shoulder injury.
Veteran backup Jameis Winston (10-for-16 passing, 101 yards) played well behind Carr. But the play seemed to take some steam out of the Saints offense, which punted on four straight possessions before missing their potential game-winning field-goal attempt.
After the game, Gary, who tore his ACL last season, had a message for his team: It’s a pleasure to just pitch in.
“Like I told the team in the locker room—the main thing is, I am just happy to go to war with you guys,” Gary said in his postgame press conference. “That is something I truly missed over the nine-and-a-half months I was out. That’s something I truly missed. Me being able to be back, and plus be an impact, that’s all I want, man. I was just happy I was able to take a stepping stone in that right direction I want to go because the more steps I take in that direction, the better we are as a team and a defense.”
Packers Defense Held Firm vs. Saints
The Packers were spot-on defensively in Week 3, even when they fell behind by 17 points in the first half. The team gave up only one play of more than 20 yards, and on the Saints’ first touchdown drive, the Packers’ big wound was self-inflicted: After the offense coughed up the ball on downs at the Packers’ 44, Kenny Clark was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty, essentially giving the Saints a starting field position of the Packers’ 40-yard line.
The other touchdown the Packers allowed was on a punt return, the fault lying with the special teams unit.
But Gary and the defense were a wrecking crew, especially in the second half. It was rewarding for Gary, who missed all but the final week of training camp as he rehabbed from a torn ACL he suffered on November 6, in a Week 9 loss to Detroit. A three-sack day is a rare feat.
“Days like this, you kind of get into a zone,” Gary explained. “I couldn’t tell you I woke up this morning feeling like—of course, I woke up feeling like I was going to beat the man across from me, but I can’t tell you I woke up feeling like it was gonna be that type of game. But like I said, man, I like where I am at, I like where I am going, I just got to keep going.”
Packers Will Play Again Thursday
When asked what a game like Sunday’s meant for the Packers, Gary was nonchalant. “It means we’re 2-1,” he said.
That is true. But it is also true that the Packers have a short turnaround this week, playing the Lions on Thursday in what could prove to be a big divisional game. That was the focus in the locker room.
“Everybody of course, after going to war like that for 60 minutes and coming out on top, everybody’s in a good mood,” Gary said. “But one thing I can say is, like, we are already focused on next week. So we probably gonna enjoy this win for like an hour, then we will focus on next week.”
Wait, an 18-point fourth-quarter comeback and … one hour?
Gary nodded. “We got an hour to enjoy it,” he said.