Last night, the Packers faced the dominant Patriots without Aaron Rogers, their starting quarterback. The Mike McCarthy-led Packers opened the game with an onside kick, which they recovered, setting the tone for a game that the Packers nearly won. After the jump, I’ve posted a comment that I made on another site about just why that kick might’ve looked familiar to Saints fans. And it has nothing to do with the Superbowl/Ambush onside kick.
Jump back 10 years, to the 2000 season, the first of the Haslett era. The Saints started hot, riding new free agent pickup Jeff Blake to a 7-3 start, one of the best in franchise history. The Saints hosted the Oakland Raiders in the 11th game, only to have Jeff Blake get hurt early in the game (deflating the Superdome and, I can tell you as a beer man at that game, totally killing beer sales). Blake was replaced by Aaron Brooks, an unheard of second-year player whom the Saints had acquired from the Packers for a mid-round draft pick. Brooks couldn’t do much against the Raiders, and the Saints lost to fall to 7-4. With Blake out for the season and star running back Ricky Williams sidelined, too, things looked bleak for the Saints.
The next week, the Saints travelled to St. Louis to face the defending champion St. Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf. Nobody gave the Saints much of a chance, because there was no way that Brooks and the Saints’ offense could keep pace with Martz’s offense. Before the game started, the cameras showed Aaron Brooks in the tunnel, cracking jokes and laughing despite the burden of playing the Rams (this trait would endear him to fans for a while, and then enrage those same fans a few years later). The Saints lost the coin toss, but opened with a surprise onside kick, which they recovered. While the Saints didn’t score on that drive, it set a tone for the game and helped establish a game plan that would keep the Rams off balance, helping the Saints to a 31-24 victory, a critical one en route to the franchise’s first-ever playoff win.
The onside kick was, in many ways, the key to the game. The Saints' offensive coordinator that year? Current Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
(should I end this with “and now you know the rest of the story”?)