GREEN BAY, Wis., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Three Aaron Rodgers TD passes, a record-equaling kickoff return and a huge defensive play Thursday gave Green Bay a season-opening 42-34 win over New Orleans.
The Packers opened defense of their Super Bowl title in the first of the league's 256 regular-season games -- a wide open contest in which six of the 10 touchdown plays traveled at least 17 yards.
Randall Cobb highlighted the game by returning a kickoff 108 yards in the third period to give Green Bay a 35-20 lead. That tied the all-time NFL record set four years ago by New England's Ellis Hobbs against the New York Jets.
The Packers did not wrap up the game until linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett stopped New Orleans running back Mark Ingram short of the goal line on the final play. The Saints had marched from their own 20 to the Green Bay 1-yard line in the final 68 seconds.
Rodgers completed 419 yards worth of passes, the sixth most productive opening-weekend effort in league history.
All of his touchdown throws came in the first period -- 7 yards to Greg Jennings, 3 yards to Jordy Nelson and 31 yards to Cobb. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees countered with 312 passing yards and three touchdown passes and the Saints got a 72-yard punt return from Darren Sproles to close within four points in the second period.
Green Bay took a 42-27 lead with 11:50 to play on John Kuhn's 1-yard run, but the Saints rallied within eight when Brees threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham with 2:15 to go. Brees connected with Robert Meachem on a 31-yarder in the first period and Devery Henderson from 29 yards out in the third.