NFC North: Garrett Hartley

Rapid Reaction: Packers 28, Saints 27

September, 30, 2012

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A quick look at Sunday's events at Lambeau Field:

What it means: The Green Bay Packers salvaged their season with a wild 28-27 victory over the still-winless New Orleans Saints. The Packers are 2-2 after four games. History has not been kind to 1-3 teams, who have missed the playoffs 85.3 percent of the time under the NFL's current playoff format.

Officiating reprise: The Packers had another shaky day with officials. But six days after the infamous Fail Mary play cost them in a 14-12 loss at the Seattle Seahawks, they did benefit from a call that prevented the Saints from taking a late lead. Place-kicker Garrett Hartley's 43-yard field goal would have given the Saints a 30-28 lead with 2 minutes, 55 seconds left. But referee Jeff Triplette called the Saints for holding on the field goal protection, an unusual call and one for which Triplette did not name the offender. The Packers moved Hartley 5 yards closer by jumping offsides prior to the next kick, but ultimately Hartley was wide left on the ensuing 48-yard attempt.

More officiating fun: Earlier in the game, Saints receiver Marques Colston appeared to get away with pushing Packers safety Morgan Burnett to the ground before catching a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Replays also showed the Saints' Darren Sproles fumbled on the kickoff return that preceded the go-ahead score. Triplette ruled Sproles down by contact, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't have a challenge remaining. All is well that ends well, however.

Defensive issues: The Packers looked more like their 2011 defense than the one they have displayed in their past two games of 2012. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 446 yards. In the end, however, the Packers had their best offensive game of the season, as well. They finished with 430 yards and quarterback Aaron Rodgers had four touchdown passes.

Brief Harrell era: The Packers were in position to extend a 21-17 lead late in the third quarter when Rodgers departed after Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins poked him in the right eye on a blitz. Backup Graham Harrell, on first-and-goal at the 2-yard line, promptly tripped over center Jeff Saturday's leg and couldn't connect on a clean handoff with tailback Cedric Benson. Jenkins recovered the ball at the 8-yard line, and four plays later, Brees found reserve receiver Joe Morgan open against a busted coverage for an 80-yard touchdown play. What could have at least been a 24-17 lead turned into 24-21 deficit in a matter of 1:17 seconds.

What's next: The Packers are on the road next Sunday to play at the Indianapolis Colts.

Vikings undecided on OT rule

March, 21, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NFL's looming debate on overtime rules has been associated most frequently with Minnesota, which lost the NFC Championship Game on New Orleans' first-possession field goal earlier this year.

The proposed rule change would have given the Vikings an overtime possession after Garrett Hartley's 40-yard field goal; if enacted, teams would have to score a touchdown in order to win on the opening possession of overtime. But as of Sunday evening, it wasn't clear if even the Vikings were in favor of the rule.

Coach Brad Childress said team officials are still discussing their vote. The final decision will be made by owner Zygi Wilf. Childress seemed ambivalent about it.

"Part of me doesn't want to screw around with what's been [the practice]," Childress said. "And part of me says, let's give it a swing."

Childress returned two days ago from a trip to Rome, where he spent three days visiting a Catholic seminary. He called the opportunity an "epiphany" and said: "I don't know if I would say it was life changing, but that's because I wouldn't know what to compare it to."

Beautiful -- and windy -- in Miami

February, 7, 2010
MIAMI -- Just took a walk around the perimeter of Sun Life Stadium. The weather is beautiful but right now it’s pretty windy. Forecasts called for gusts of up to 20 miles per hour, and I can tell you first-hand it’s awfully gusty right now.

Who do you think has the kicking advantage in a windy situation? New Orleans’ Garrett Hartley or Indianapolis’ Matt Stover? Discuss.