James Lofton caught seven passes for 134 yards today and helped Green Bay defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 24-23, in Forrest Gregg's inaugural as the Packers' coach.

It was the 22nd 100-yard game in Lofton's career as an NFL wide receiver. The Cardinals lost their seventh opener in their last eight; it was the fifth straight opening day victory for Green Bay.

The Packers led, 24-13, at the end of the third quarter but quarterback Neil Lomax got hot and nearly rallied the Cardinals to victory.

Lomax was 25 of 35 passing for 270 yards and two touchdowns, Green Bay's Lynn Dickey 16 of 22 for 188 yards and one touchdown.

The Cardinals could have overcome their one-point deficit -- tracing back to a missed extra point by Neil O'Donoghue -- but, with 2:10 left, O'Donoghue's 45-yard field goal fell short.

O'Donoghue earlier had succeeded from 48 yards to cut the lead to 24-23, after Lomax directed the Cardinals on a 55-yard drive getting them to 24-20.

Eddie Garcia's 38-yard field goal gave the Packers a 24-13 lead. St. Louis had made it 21-13 on a 73-yard drive 6:28 into the second half, Stump Mitchell's 34-yard run setting up Ottis Anderson's three-yard touchdown.

O'Donoghue missed the extra point.

Mitchell had helped the Cardinals on their only scoring drive of the 14-7 first half, running 25 yards on fourth and six after lining up as a blocker in punt formation.

"I was happy with the win, not really with the performance," said Dickey. "We hit too much of a lull late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter.

"We've got to be able to move the football better than we did. And if we rush the football, we've got to be able to get some first downs."