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Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 44-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night at the Superdome:

What it means: The Packers couldn't keep up in a shootout mostly because one of the most reliable aspects of their offense this season -- their red zone efficiency -- was terrible. They failed to score a touchdown on their first three trips inside the 20. Coming into the game, they ranked third in the league with a 70.4 percent conversion rate. On their first three red zone possessions, they came away with just six points on a pair of field goals. After what was a solid first seven games, the Packers limped into the bye week at 5-3, one game behind the first-place Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

Stock watch: You can blame receivers for all three of Aaron Rodgers' interceptions this season. Like the one he threw in the opener against the Seattle Seahawks, both of the interceptions he threw on Sunday night bounced off the hands of his own players. The first, on a third-and-goal play from the 5, came off the hands of tight end Andrew Quarless, and Saints linebacker David Hawthorne picked it. The second, early in the fourth quarter, bounced off the outstretched hand of receiver Davante Adams, and Saints cornerback Corey White picked it off. Rodgers had gone 212 straight passes without an interception, a career-best streak.

Peppers on offense: Julius Peppers is a remarkable athlete, having played basketball in college at North Carolina, but it turns out he's not much of a tight end. Coach Mike McCarthy used the outside linebacker on offense for the first time on a second-and-goal play from the 3-yard line in the first quarter, and Rodgers went to him. But Peppers bobbled and dropped what would have been a touchdown pass. Rodgers was sacked on the next play, and the Packers had to settle for a field goal.

Injuries: The Packers lost right guard T.J. Lang to an ankle injury after the first series, and it proved costly when his replacement, Lane Taylor, got blown off the ball on a fourth-and-1 play the Saints stuffed in the fourth quarter.

Game ball: Running back Eddie Lacy always runs hard, but he seemed to have some extra drive in his legs on Sunday night. And he did more damage catching the ball than rushing with it. He caught eight passes for 123 yards, including 67 on a screen pass in the first quarter. On that play, he gained 42 of those yards after he was first contacted by a Saints' defender. With 59 yards rushing on 13 carries, Lacy finished with 182 yards from scrimmage.

What's next: The Packers have their bye next week and return to action on Nov. 9 against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field in another Sunday night game.