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Crimson Aviator

Gotta “Love” that 4th-quarter comeback

Packers rally past Saints, face Lions next

The Green Bay Packers were incredibly short-handed for their first home game of the season, an 18-17 win Sept. 24 over the New Orleans Saints.

The absence of their two best offensive linemen, All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari and Pro-Bowl LG Elgton Jenkins, left the entire left half of the offensive line in shambles. They were missing their only experienced offensive weapon, star running back Aaron Jones, whose hamstring injury kept him on the sideline and left Green Bay’s running stagnant. 

As a team, they averaged just over 3.5 yards per carry, and quarterback Jordan Love ended up being the team’s leading rusher with just 39 yards. In addition, star wide receiver Christian Watson was out with a hamstring injury of his own.

On defense, superstar cornerback Jaire Alexander was out with a back injury, and All-Pro middle linebacker De’Vondre Campbell exited the game after hurting his ankle.

Basically, injuries ravaged every offensive unit for the Packers and claimed two of their best defensive players. 

For the first three quarters, Green Bay looked lifeless. The offense, gasping for any kind of rhythm, was plagued by countless penalties and boneheaded mistakes. The Packers let up 17 points to the Saints, including a punt that was returned for a touchdown. It was a nightmare start against one of the best defenses in the NFL; New Orleans had only allowed one touchdown on the season through two games. 

Love, in just his third game as the Packers’ starting quarterback, was tasked with overcoming a 17-0 deficit. The offense around him was held together with Scotch tape. Hopes of a comeback appeared to be slim.

But then, Love made magic happen. His first drive in the fourth quarter was a long one, and the Packers ended up settling for a field goal after a dropped touchdown from rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed. 

The next drive presented a crucial 4th and goal from the two yard line. Love took the snap, faked the hand-off, put a juke on one of the league’s best linebackers, and scored a touchdown. 

Coach Matt Lafleur, favoring analytics, decided to go for the two-point conversion. From the shotgun, Love took the snap and went through his reads. No one was open. He extended the play for a few anxious moments before stepping up in the pocket and throwing a cross-body dart to Samouri Toure. It was a big time throw to reduce the lead to just six points.

The Packers defense came up with another clutch defensive stop. After allowing 10 offensive points in the first half, Green Bay would pitch a second-half shutout due in large part to a fantastic three-sack day from Rashan Gary.

Jordan Love would get the ball back, down six, with four-and-a-half minutes to go in the game. The drive began with Love flashing his mobility once again, this time on a 25-yard scramble as the play broke down. Then, he threw a deep ball to Jayden Reed, who made a fantastic diving catch, redeeming himself for his drops earlier in the game. To finish the drive (and, effectively, the game), Love tossed a perfectly placed ball to Romeo Doubs on a fade route in the endzone. Anders Carlson made the extra point, and the Packers led 18-17.

Love showed incredible poise when it mattered most. Even with most of Green Bay’s best players out, he found a way to tie Aaron Rodgers’ record for the largest 4th-quarter comeback in franchise history. 

With the win, the Packers continued their streak of winning 11 straight home openers, and Matt Lafleur passed the great John Madden for the best home record of any coach in NFL history. 

Meanwhile, two of the Packers NFC North rivals, the Vikings and Bears, lost on Sunday. Both are 0-3. Only five teams in NFL history have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start, and these two don’t seem like they’ll be adding to that statistic this year.

The race for the division title appears to be between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, who will face off on Thursday under the Lambeau lights.

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  • M

    Mrs ProvostSep 27, 2023 at 12:22 pm

    Fantastic article , Evan, for such a memorable game! Your writing as continued to blossom! Well done!