Heading into Thursday night's 2011 NFL season-opener, we all expected Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees to go toe-to-toe, picking up right where they left off last season. But through the first quarter, only one quarterback held up their end of the bargain as Rodgers carved up the New Orleans secondary en route to a 21-7 lead. It looked as though the rout was one.
By halftime, the Packers held an 11-point lead, 28-17, and seemed to be in control. But as he's done so often, Brees answered right back, nearly bringing the Saints all the way back for a chance to tie the game. He made throws that were jaw-dropping, as did Rodgers, and worked with a calm, cool precision while making it look effortless.
Brees finished the game with an arguably better line, completing 32 of 49 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 8.6 yards per completion. But Rodgers was sound and efficient, missing only eight times, 27-35, while throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Neither threw an interception, nor did they turn the ball over. It was clinical passing.
Rodgers walked away with the belt again as his Packers hung on for a 42-34 win after a goalline stuff with no time on the clock put an end to a season-opening thriller at Lambeau. But both quarterbacks demonstrated why they're the best in the business at what they do on Thursday night, and we were all better for it.