With the Packers reeling and off to their worst start in 17 years with a bleak 0-4 record, head coach Mike Sherman and his squad came into week five looking to break through in the win column against the 2-2 New Orleans Saints on a sunny, 52-degree afternoon at Lambeau Field. With playoff chances seen as almost non-existent as only the 1992 San Diego Chargers qualified for the playoffs after a 0-4 start, the Packers came out and looked like a team not close to throwing in the towel on the 2005 season. Even without Pro Bowlers Javon Walker, Ahman Green and Bubba Franks, the Packers were able to make the most of their make shift offense in front of 70,580 loyal cheeseheads.

The Packers’ first series did not go to plan as they gained one yard on three plays before BJ
Sander (a historically comical Sherman draft pick) punted it off to the Saints. The Saints then, in big part due to running back Deuce McAllister, drove into the range of kicker John Carney who opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal, which would wind up being their only scoring output before the Packers’ offense came to life and an onslaught ensued.

A day before his 36th birthday, quarterback Brett Favre led his Packers on a 12-play 68-yard drive to open the Packers’ scoring output. The drive was capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown by new starting running back Najeh Davenport. Four plays into the Saints second series former Favre backup Aaron Brooks locked onto eyes onto receiver Donte Stallworth and his pass was easily intercepted and returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Packers top cornerback Al Harris for a quick 14-3 Green Bay lead. Three plays and less than one minute later it was déjà vu at Lambeau Field as Harris intercepted another ball intended towards Stallworth as the first quarter clock expired.

With the ball back in Favre’s hands, the gunslinger went 5/6 during an 11 play, six-minute drive to open the second quarter which ended again with another Davenport touchdown run to extend the Green Bay lead to 21-3. A Ryan Longwell touchback coupled by a Saints three and out gave the Packers prime field position after a 43-yard punt by Mitch Berger was returned 9-yards by Antonio Chatman to give the Packers the ball at the Saints 49. A 14-yard catch by Driver, and 10-yard Davenport rush set up a first and ten for Favre from the 25-yard line in which he promptly zoomed a pass into the arms of receiver Robert Ferguson in the end zone to add 6 more to the Packers score. After the Longwell extra point split the uprights, all was going in the green and gold’s favor. The following possession for New Orleans was highlighted by a 21-yard and a 42-yard hookup from Brooks to speedster Az-Zahir Hakim, but the Saints came up empty as a 43-yard Carney field goal attempt was no good. Unfortunately, the Packers would lose Davenport for the season on the very next play as he had his ankle pinned underneath himself while being dragged down after a two-yard reception. The ankle would be diagnosed as broken and it would also be Davenport’s last play as a Packer. The series stalled and the Packers were forced to punt but they would get the ball right back as rookie safety Nick Collins forced a fumble by tight end Ernie Conwell which was recovered by reserve defensive end Kenny Peterson.

With the ball on the New Orleans 19-yard line, Favre fired a quick 4-yard strike to Driver, which was followed up by a pass interference call against Saints Fred Booker against Robert Ferguson in the end zone set up a one-yard, wide open touchdown reception by tight end David Martin and a 35-3 Packers’ lead. The Saints had another opportunity to put points on the board right before halftime after an 18-yard catch by Hakim and an 18-yard run by Brooks set up another Carney 43-yard field goal attempt which he missed, yet again. The Packers 35-point first-half outburst was their biggest one-half output since Dec. 6, 1992, against Detroit.

With the Packers on cruise control with a 32-point lead, the defense forced another three and out to open the second half. The Packers offense was not done yet, Favre hooked up with Ferguson for a 51-yard completion and followed it up two plays later with a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Donald Lee, 42-3 Packers and the proverbial “Dagger” call was said by Packers’ radio voice Wayne Larrivee. The teams would trade punts before Saints’ backup quarterback Todd Bouman was sacked and stripped by Kenny Peterson and the Packers’ would post three more points on the board to increase their margin to 45-3. After a 19/27, 215 yards and three touchdown performance Favre gave way to rookie Aaron Rodgers to lead the Packers’ offense the rest of the way. Rodgers’ first series consisted of three handoffs to running back Tony Fisher and a Sander punt. The following Saints’ possession, the final blow was dealt by the Packers’ defense. On third and four deep in Green Bay territory, Bouman threw an ill-advised pass right into the hands of linebacker Nick Barnett, who scampered down the Saints’ sideline 95-yards for the final score of the game.

Another Saints’ punt gave Rodgers the opportunity to get some more game action. Two more handoffs, this time to ReShard Lee led to a third and seven. Rodgers threw and completed his first pass in his NFL career, a pass for no gain to back up fullback Vonta Leach. Three consecutive punts ended the day and the Packers’ 49-point win tied for second largest margin of victory for the franchise, behind only a 56-3 thrashing of the Atlanta Falcons in 1966 at Milwaukee County Stadium.

While the Packers’ would finish the 2005 season 4-12, the week five romp of the Saints’ was one of the few highlights of the year as the team played a nearly perfect game. The Packers’ out gained the Saints 309-254, caused five turnovers without having any of their own and did not allow a sack, even with a hobbled offensive line. The Saints’ who were displaced from New Orleans to San Antonio and Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Katrina and major damages to their home stadium, the Louisiana Superdome, would fall into a tailspin as they would go 1-10 to finish the season 3-13.

 

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