Eighteen unanswered 4th quarter points capped off by Jordan Love’s perfect throw and a highlight reel catch by Romeo Doubs made for a happy ending in Green Bay on Sunday. A Packer team that spent three quarters getting in its own way, to the tune of 11 penalties costing the Packers 90 yards and multiple stalled drives, turned it around on the arm and legs of Jordan Love and some clutch catches by his young receiving core.
When the list of Packers sidelined by injury was announced before the game, the Packer faithful had reason for concern. Bakhtiari and Jenkins, their two best offensive linemen, their starting runner and receiver in Jones and Watson, plus their star cover cornerback, Alexander, was a pretty long list.
Add to that De’Vondre Campbell and substitute corner starter rookie Carrington Valentine, who dropped out during the game, to have a list of seven critical players. Could the Packers win this game against what was touted as a top tier defense that had only allowed one touchdown in two games?
Well, it wouldn’t be easy, and it sure wasn’t pretty for the first three quarters, but the answer at the end of the day was… yes. Jordan Love had everything going wrong around him.
His offensive line was collecting penalties like they were souvenirs. The Packers offense continually found a reverse gear before they could get into scoring position. While the trick play on their first series was a brilliant call that had a wide-open receiver waiting downfield, the lateral by 4th string RB Emanuel Wilson at Loves’ feet led to an off balance rushed throw by Love that turned the play into a comical Three Stooges sketch.
That opening drive embarrassment seemed to hang on the Packers during the first three quarters. Young players making rookie mistakes, dropped passes or overthrown open receivers.
A special teams touchdown gift. The fans saw a comedy of errors that was quickly evolving into an opening home game tragedy until Love, Doubs, Jayden Reed, Toure, Wicks and Musgrave and Rashan Gary decided this day would have a happy ending for the Green & Gold.
The patchwork offensive line held their own in pass protection, giving up just one sack on an unaccounted cornerback blitz. The run game is still suspect. A.J. Dillon, Wilson and Patrick Taylor averaged 3.0 yards, 3.0 yards and 2.0 yards respectively.
The only successful runner was Love. His scrambles netted 39 yards including a nifty touchdown run. Love then added a two-point conversion with his second best pass of the day. With the pocket crumbling around him, Love started to head towards the end zone with the ball, but at the last second pulled up and threw a strike to Samori Toure.
Love’s best pass had to be the Packers’ second and final touchdown. A back shoulder bullet to Doubs, who made an acrobatic catch with a defender all over him. We knew there were going to be struggles this season with Love getting his first real leadership role with limited previous real NFL game experience.
The question posed last week after his unsuccessful 4th quarter in Atlanta was whether he could make the jump to an NFL QB that can steal a game in the 4th quarter. He answered that question on Sunday.
The struggles are not over for Love. His deep passes need more accuracy. He seemed to need to lead his receivers one more step on several incompletions that were contested.
On the plus side, he sees the field and has a fire to win. And, he gets the ball out on time, limiting potential sacks while showing no qualms firing passes to any of his receivers. No trust issues from this 2023 Packer QB.
Yes, he had some luck with a Saint kicking gaffe at the end, but 18 points is no small matter in the NFL. The Packers will watch tape of Sunday’s game knowing they were beating themselves at a truly putrid level but that those errors are correctable.
Hopefully, they can right that ship in three days with little to no practice as the Lions come to Lambeau on Thursday.