8 a.m. -- The Park and Ride at I-43 and Brown Deer Road is starting to fill up with Packers fans. Some are tossing footballs, others are standing by their vehicles; in a short time, they’ll all be driving north for about two hours, at which point many of them will toss footballs, stand by their vehicles, eat bratwurst and drink beer.
If the Packers continue to struggle and gas prices go up again, maybe people will simply tailgate right at the Park and Ride.
In any event, I’m waiting on my chauffer -- C.J. Knee of Milwaukee’s ESPN Radio 1510 Days/1290 Nights and Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel. They’ll be my carpool companions today in the radio station’s Jeep Cherokee.
8:15 a.m. -- We hit the highway for what has to be one of the least interesting two-hour drives in America. (It ranks ahead of the Phoenix to Tucson trek that is a staple of spring training). A few people notice the radio station logo on the side of the vehicle and give us the thumbs-up sign. Although it’s a "Milwaukee game," traffic is flowing rather smoothly. C.J. and Lori say that it was more congested last weekend, which we attribute to the influx of Bears fans. We stop for gas around Maribel, just outside of Green Bay. Traffic isn’t bad until we hit Hwy. 172. Even then, it’s not horrible.
11:45 a.m. -- Former center Frank Winters is the Packers’ honorary captain today. As part of the 10th anniversary of the Super Bowl XXI championship, general manager Ted Thompson has invited members of the 1996 team to fulfill that role during home games. The pregame scratches are announced. William Henderson has been activated by the Packers, but Vonta Leach is not active for New Orleans.
11:55 -- The National Anthem is performed by John Vincent, described in the game notes as a Sinatra-style artist who regularly performs at Mike Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago. It’s a good thing he didn’t perform last week. At the climax of the song, twin F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., buzz over the scoreboards.
Noon -- New Orleans wins the toss, elects to receive and Green Bay defends the South goal. That means we won’t see Koren Robinson until the second-half kickoff or the Saints’ first score, whichever comes first.
We’re underway, so we’ll shift to football time:
15:00 -- Packers kicker Dave Rayner swings his leg into the ball, sending a high drive to Ashwaubenon native Aaron Stecker, who spent time at the University of Wisconsin before transferring to Western Illinois. Stecker returns the kick 17 yards, and then catches a short pass for 12 more on the first play from scrimmage.
14:31 -- Reggie Bush gets his first carry of the day and is flattened by Ahmad Carroll. You read that right.
13:48 -- Saints quarterback Drew Brees drops back to pass on second-and-4 and Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman strips the ball out of his hand and fall son the fumble. It’s a great start for Green Bay and Kampman, whose four-year, $21 million contract caused some to say that the Packers overspent.
13:42 -- Favre completes a pass to Driver, who has now caught at least one pass in 66 straight games. Sterling Shapre holds the team record with 103.
11:11 -- On third and 7 from the 22, Favre hits Greg Jennings for a 22-yard touchdown, the first for the rookie and the first for the Packers this season. Jennings, who looks like he’s going to be a special player, had the misfortune of scoring in a corner of the end zone where the wall is highest. As a result, his first Lambeau Leap gets him only chest-high into the stands. Packers 7, Saints 0.
11:06 -- Kampman definitely ate his Wheaties this morning. He stuffs Bush for a one-yard loss on the first play after the touchdown.
9:45 -- The Packers’ other high-paid defensive end, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, signed a seven-year, $37 million deal in 2003, strips Brees at the 13. Cullen Jenkins pounces on the ensuing fumble and spikes the ball in jubilation when he emerges from the pile. Things couldn’t be going much better for the Packers, who take over on the New Orleans 15.
8:41 -- Two incompletions and a six-yard pass to Ahman Green set the stage for Rayner’s first field goal of the year, a 24-yarder. Packers 10, Saints 0.
7:03 -- The Saints are starting to get their bearings. Brees hits Deuce McAllister for 24 yards. Charles Woodson knocks the ball loose, but McAllister falls on it. Reggie Bush looks fast, but there are some runs when he seems to go down pretty easily. The Packers seem energized and are attacking the ball with gusto. Still, the Saints don’t seem ready to panic yet.
4:49 -- Maybe they should. Brees’ pass intended for Devery Henderson is tipped by Nick Collins and intercepted by Al Harris, who tiptoes just inside the sideline. Green Bay takes over at its own 8.
Overtime -- The scoreboard beer bottle race is won by Miller Lite. (Maybe there is something to that lower calorie stuff).
3:09 -- Facing second and 5 at their own 25, the Packers go into the no-huddle offense. With Favre in the shotgun, the Saints’ Rob Ninkovich jumps offside and center Scott Wells snaps the ball back in hopes of earning a "free play." One problem -- Favre didn’t see the ball, which squirts back to 14. Farve, showing good foot speed and field presence, corrals the ball and manages to fire the ball out of bounds. The Packers pick up five yards on the penalty. Last week, the flag probably would have been for holding. Maybe their luck is changing…
3:01 -- Driver catches a short slant, spins and runs 48 yards before getting knocked out of bounds. The Packers are on the Saints’ 22, but end up settling for another field goal, this one a 36-yarder. Rayner, feeling the positive vibrations, sends his kickoff through the end zone. Packers 13, Saints 0.
15:00 -- The Saints go three-and-out, and the Packers do the same. The teams trade a few punts. Both defenses looking sharp, but the Packers seem to be losing a bit of their edge.
Overtime -- Former Packers defensive lineman Gilbert Brown is on the sideline, standing in an area next to the stationary bike that players ride to stay loose. It’s a safe bet that Gilbert won’t be jumping on the bike.
8:21 -- After a 10-yard run by Bush, Brees hits Mark Campbell for 33 yards to the Green Bay 3. After a timeout, Brees tries to throw a pass to tight end Nate Lawrie. Hawk almost picks it off, but he collides with Lawrie in the end zone.
7:44 -- McAllister goes off left tackle for a three-yard touchdown. The Saints are back in the game. Packers 13, Saints 7.
Overtime -- The official attendance is 70,602.
7:44 -- Packers fans get their first look at Koren Robinson, who returns a kick 19 yards. Robinson’s deep partner was Vernand Morency, picked up with Houston in the Samkon Gado trade.
4:40 -- A holding penalty on Chad Clifton short-circuits a Green Bay drive and John Ryan punts to Reggie Bush, who authors what may be one of the more exciting five-yard returns in the history of Lambeau Field.
Overtime -- A stunning announcement draws gasps in the press box: Lions 17, Bears 0. Oops. That’s a mistake. The real score is actually reversed. The Packers play the Lions next week in Detroit.
1:09 -- After slicing the defense with a string of short passes, Brees hits Henderson for a 12-yard gain to the Green Bay 26. The Packers are forced to take a time out when Carroll is injured on the play, apparently with cramps. Carroll remains in the game.
:56 -- Maybe Carroll should have taken a seat. Henderson beats him for a 26-yard touchdown. The Packers, who have played some of their best football since assembling for training camp in July, are trailing in the game. Saints 14, Packers 13.
:20 -- The Packers punt the ball and the Saints take a knee. Your halftime score: Saints 14, Packers 13.
Overtime -- At halftime, the Packers announce that Al Harris has been suffering from cramps and received some IV fluid. In another heat-related development, the female Packers cheerleaders -- who might actually be from St. Norbert College -- have ditched their long-sleeve shirts. Question: are the Packers the only team in the NFL to use college cheerleaders? They have to be the only team in the pros with male cheerleaders, right?
Overtime -- In a contrast to last week, the Packers rushed the ball just seven times in the first half. What happened to McCarthy’s desire to establish the run?
8:23 -- The Packers mount an impressive drive to open the second half. Mixing runs and passes, some out of the shotgun, they move to the New Orleans 18. A highlight of the drive comes when Driver takes a reverse and jukes former teammate Mike McKenzie out of his jock. On third and 9 from the 18, Favre hits Driver for 11 yards. Driver, who almost always pops up quickly after being tackled, does so again and is body-slammed by safety Roman Harper. Flags fly, but the penalty is offset when Bubba Franks gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, apparently for bumping an official. Instead of getting the ball at the 3, the Packers have first and goal at the 7.
7:57 -- Franks’ temper tantrum, which drew an onfield rebuke from Favre, ends up being costly. Had they been closer, the Packers may have called a run. Instead, they try a pass. Facing pressure, Favre tries to force the ball to William Henderson. He’s hit on delivery and his floater is picked off by Omar Stoutmire in the end zone. It’s a play that has "Potential Turning Point" written all over it.
7:47 -- On the first play from scrimmage, Brees hits Joe Horn for 57 yards. Brady Poppinga, who was torched repeatedly in the opener, was covering (or in this case, not covering) Horn on the play.
6:37 -- On third and 9, Kampman records his third sack of the game and forces another fumble, but the Saints recover at the 27.
5:45 -- The sack doesn’t rattle Carney, who hammers a 45-yard field goal. Saints 17, Packers 13.
2:26 -- On third and 8 from just inside midfield, Favre hits Driver with a 42-yard pass down to the Saints 7. It’s obvious that Driver is the Packers’ "go-to guy," but he still finds ways to make plays. After a one-yard run by Noah Herron, the Packers let the quarter expire rather than trying a final play.
14:18 -- Favre hits Robert Ferguson for a four-yard touchdown pass. Packers 20, Saints 20.
Overtime -- One of the cooler things about the Packers organization is that the team has retired just five numbers: 14 (Don Hutson), 3 (Tony Canadeo), 15 ( Bart Starr), 66 (Ray Nitschke) and 92 (Reggie White). One day, Favre’s number will join the others, but it’s incredibly cool that there are men who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who don’t have their numbers retired.
10:47 -- After a trade of punts, the Saints take over on their own 35 and Poppinga drops a certain interception. It’s a bad omen. Teams that win games in the fourth quarter don’t miss chances like that.
8:26 -- After a relatively harmless pass interference penalty on Carroll, Brees drills a 35-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston. Who? Yeah, the guy from Hofstra University. He beat Nick Collins on the play. Is it just me, or do the Packers seem to be getting torched by little-known receivers? Saints 27, Packers 20.
8:10 -- In past years, the Saints’ score may have led an amped-up Favre to try to throw a deep ball into a danger zone. This time, he opts for a safer play and hands the ball to Green, who promptly fumbles. The Saints recover at the 23. Surprisingly, Packers coach Mike McCarthy decides not to challenge the play to see if Green was actually down before coughing up the football. Things aren’t looking good for the home side.
8:01 -- Things are looking really bleak now. ON the first play, McAllister runs 23 yards for a touchdown. In a span of three plays, the Saints have turned a tie game into a two-touchdown lead. Saints 34, Packers 27.
8:01 -- After a penalty wipes out a 35-yard return by Koren Robinson, Morency gets a chance. He returns a kick 2`8 yards to put the Packers at the 32. Say what you want about character issues, the Packers’ return game looks much improved over Week 1.
4:23 -- Sparked by a 23-yard pass to Jennings and a few other plays, the Packers move into the red zone and Favre connects with Herron for a 6-yard touchdown. Time is short, but the Saints may be on their heels. If they don’t get a first down, things could get interesting. Saints 34, Packers 27.
3:26 -- After two unsuccessful runs, the Saints fail to convert on third down and have to punt. The Packers are out of timeouts, but they’ll have the ball with just more than 3 minutes left.
2:02 -- A pair of short completions moves the Packers to the Saints’ 44. The 2-minute warning will give the Packers a timeout, but they don’t make it that far. Fare throws four straight incompletions. The Saints take over and Brees kneels three times to wrap up the victory.
FINAL SCORE: Saints 34, Packers 27.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.