Aaron Rodgers showed no signs of a Super Bowl hangover, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns as the Green Bay Packers kicked off the NFL season with a 42-34 win over the visiting New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Rodgers finished 27 of 35 and led the Packers (1-0) on four scoring drives of 76 yards or longer to win the matchup of the past two Super Bowl winners.
Still, Green Bay's defense had to make one huge final play to stave off a furious comeback after quarterback Drew Brees drove the Saints to the 1-yard line, stuffing rookie running back Mark Ingram at the goal line with no time on the clock.
Brees finished 32 of 49 for 419 yards and three touchdowns but came up short in his duel with Rodgers. It marked the fifth time in NFL history that Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks started against one another in the season opener.
Rodgers, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, set the tone with a spectacular first quarter, becoming only the second player in NFL history to throw three scoring passes in the first quarter of the season opener.
Rodgers had a perfect passer rating and was 14 of 15 for 188 yards in the opening quarter alone as Green Bay scored on its first three possessions to build a 21-7 lead.
Rookie Randall Cobb had a sensational debut with the Packers, catching a 32-yard scoring pass and tying an NFL record with a dazzling 108-yard kick return in which he spun off and over a tackler.
Greg Jennings had seven receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown and Jordy Nelson added six catches for 77 yards and a score for Green Bay.
New Orleans' Darren Sproles returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown - the third of his career - and set up a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson with a 57-yard kickoff return.
Despite the early offensive onslaught by the Packers, the Saints (0-1) stayed within striking range but failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 at the Green Bay 7 late in the third quarter while trailing 35-27.
Rodgers then guided the Packers 93 yards on 12 plays for a 42-27 lead with 11:50 lead. Rodgers was 6 of 6 for 77 yard on that drive.
Brees' third scoring pass, to Jimmy Graham, got New Orleans within 42-34 with 2:15 left. After a failed onside kick, the Saints got the ball at their own 20 with 1:08 remaining.
Henderson had six catches for 100 yards and a score and Bobby Meachem added five receptions for 70 yards and a TD for New Orleans.