The Packers knew they were likely to face the tough New Orleans Saints without their top receiver in Davante Adams. That meant that for the offense to put enough points on the board, other players were going to have to step up their game for the offense to be effective. Well, the Packers got key contributions from several of their “other” receivers against New Orleans and came away with a big 37-30 road win.
The most noticeable contribution came from Allen Lazard who finished the game with six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown including a 48-yard bomb from midfield early in the second quarter that set up his five-yard touchdown catch two plays later and a 72-yard bomb that set up Aaron Jones’ 1-yard touchdown in the opening drive of the third quarter.
Lazard knew he had to be ready when he got his chance to shine. “This is everything I’ve been preparing for,” he said after the game. “Injuries are bound to happen…I’m really just waiting for my opportunity to be able to step up today and I think I did that pretty well.”
The Saints were focusing on preventing the speedy Marquez Valdes-Scantling from getting deep and making big plays but that left Lazard available to do make big plays of his own.
The 72-yarder was a new career long for Lazard who was happy to joke about it after the game. “I told Aaron Jones during halftime, I was like, ‘Look, I’m going to need another 75-yard touchdown…to start the second half again,’” Lazard told reporters. “So, really I kind of slowed down just so he could score and get that fulfillment and get the ball rolling with him.”
Head coach Matt LaFleur was quick to praise Lazard’s performance and discussed his journey from undrafted free agent to starting wide receiver. “He was just an unproven player and any time guys haven’t had opportunities there’s always going to be question marks about how somebody’s going to go out there and perform,” LaFleur said. “He showed a lot of the stuff that we love about him, the grit, the strength, the ability to be very physical with whoever he’s going against whether it’s a DB or a linebacker or a safety. We were confident that he could make plays for us. When he got that opportunity last year in the Detroit game, he delivered and he’s been doing it ever since.”
In addition to the fine play by Lazard, the Packers also used their tight ends more effectively against the Saints. Robert Tonyan had a career-high five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Tonyan showed himself to be reliable and caught a pass all five times he was targeted.
Jace Sternberger also overcame some dropped passes earlier in the season to make his first three NFL regular-season catches for 36 yards including a pass that got the Pack back into field goal range late in the game.
Marcedes Lewis made only one catch in this game but he made it count. It was an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Packers a 27-20 advantage late in the third quarter.
While the tight ends also stepped up, it was Lazard who was the star of the show among the receivers. Once again, his catches were clutch. Besides his touchdown catch, four of his other five receptions gave the Packers important first downs.
Lazard also is a strong run blocker for a wide receiver. He uses his 6’5”, 227-pound frame to his advantage regularly. He picked up a key block on a linebacker on a third-and-one play that Jamaal Williams turned into a big first down.
“We know this, we can count on Allen to give his best effort each and every week and that he’s going to do a lot of the dirty work that doesn’t always show up on a stat sheet,” LaFleur said. “So, it’s just that grit, tenacity and trust that we have in Allen to come through no matter what the task. He’s delivered. It’s fun to see somebody work so hard that maybe people don’t always know about and that they’re able to come through. So, I’m super happy for him. He’s definitely a guy that has earned everything that he’s gotten in this game.”
There is still more to come from Allen Lazard. But Sunday night against the Saints, he proved he can step up and assume a bigger role when the Packers need him to. He’s already come a long way from being an undrafted free agent to a bona fide starter with a bright future.
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