With the Packers trailing by 6, Rodgers led a drive that ended with an 11-yard strike to Nelson.
Packers wide receiver James Jones said Rodgers' teammates took notice of his toughness.
"Oh, yeah. I mean, he's got to come back in," said Jones, who caught a pair of touchdowns Sunday. "He's tough. We all play with bumps and bruises, and he's one of those guys that's got to fight through those bumps and bruises and play with it. He's a tough guy. He was not going to sit out that game."
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards with three touchdowns for the winless Saints (0-4).
"It's going to hurt when you lose a game like this," Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said. "But I will not let them get down. We are too close."
Brees now has thrown at least one touchdown in 47 straight regular-season games, tying the NFL's all-time mark set by Johnny Unitas.
"Yeah, it's disappointing," Brees said of the loss. "It stinks. But despite where we're at, right now I think this team's going to do something."
With the win, the Packers were able to put Monday night's controversial replacement official-driven loss at Seattle behind them. But even with the regular refs back this week, the Packers and their fans still nearly were dealt a crushing blow on a blown call.
After Rodgers' touchdown to Nelson, Darren Sproles appeared to fumble the ensuing kickoff but officials ruled that he was down by contact. Replays showed that the ball clearly came out, but the Packers were out of replay challenges, leaving Packers fans screaming at the officials for the second week in a row.
Brees then led the Saints into field goal range, and Hartley hit a 43-yard attempt — but the Saints were called for holding, forcing Hartley to line up a 53-yarder. The Packers then were called for encroachment, leaving Hartley to try a 48-yarder and he missed it wide left.
"You guys were all happy that the officials were back, and we tried to tell you that they'd still get booed," Nelson said with a laugh.
NOTES: Packers S M.D. Jennings, who played a key role in the controversial play at Seattle, left the game with a shoulder injury. ... Packers WR Greg Jennings caught a touchdown in the second quarter but later came out of the game. Jennings has been struggling to stay healthy with a groin injury.
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