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It’s no secret what the defense needs to do to become the unit the Packers feels it’s capable of being. The blueprint was laid out since the summer. It’s going to take big plays, turnovers, sure tackling and an ability to get off the field consistently on third downs.

While the Packers have had their moments in all four of those areas this season, they weren’t able to do enough to keep pace with New Orleans’ high-octane offense down the stretch during Sunday’s 26-17 loss at Lambeau Field.

The Saints, who entered as the NFL’s fourth-ranked scoring offense, produced 485 total yards against Green Bay, converting on 8-of-15 third downs and winning the battle for time of possession (36:56-23:04).

“We have to play better,” safety

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  said. “We have to find a way to get off the field on third down. That hurt us a lot today. We’ll look at the film (Monday) and figure out what we can work on to get better and go from there.”

For all the things that didn’t go Green Bay’s way in the second half, the defense couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start against the Saints.Cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Davon House  each picked off New Orleans’ 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees to end the Saints’ opening two series. Heading into Sunday, Brees had only thrown two picks in his first 183 passes this season.

Randall, who has an interception in each of the Packers’ last three games, halted New Orleans’ opening drive with a pick in Green Bay’s end zone for a touchback before House then pulled in a ball down the sideline intended for Michael Thomas.

House has missed three games this year due to a lingering quad injury, but said he came through fine in his first extended action since the opener against Seattle.

“I played maybe 80 percent, 85 percent, so it was good to know how good I did and was able to play at a high level,” House said. “To know I did that at 85 percent, I’m excited to see what I can bring to the table when I’m 100.”

Green Bay’s defense conceded 225 total yards in the first half, but only gave up seven points on the scoreboard in forcing the Saints to punt twice in the second quarter.

The second half was another story. The Saints scored on the opening series off a 22-yard pass from Brees to receiver Brandon Coleman, and then capped their next two series with Wil Lutz field goals to take a 19-17 lead with 10:21 left in the game.

The Packers, down to one inside linebacker (Blake Martinez , were forced to stay in their sub-packages on a critical series with 8:25 left, which ended with Brees sneaking in a 1-yard touchdown to pull ahead by two scores.

The one-two backfield punch of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara produced 217 total yards, with receiver Ted Ginn Jr. leading the Saints with seven catches for 141 yards.

“The first half I thought we got after them pretty well,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who had three tackles (one for a loss). “But unfortunately in the second half, it was night and day. We obviously didn’t hold up our end of the bargain and gave up way too many big plays.

“It was just simple mistakes that they took advantage of when you have guys like their quarterback and running back. It was just too much, too much.”