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Game notes: Jayden Reed and rookie class making impact for Packers' offense

Luke Musgrave and Dontayvion Wicks also stepped up vs. Steelers

Packers WR Jayden Reed
Packers WR Jayden Reed

PITTSBURGH – When the Packers' offense needed a play to be made on Sunday, their 2023 rookie class of Jayden Reed, Luke Musgrave and Dontayvion Wicks came through.

The trio combined for 10 catches, 199 yards and a touchdown, while often fueling Green Bay's hopes of a comeback in what turned out to be a 23-19 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Reed led the charge. Building on what's been a strong start to his NFL career, Green Bay's rookie receiver caught all five of his targets for a team-high 84 yards and a TD in Pittsburgh.

"All I can do is do my part when my number's called," Reed said. "Execute. That's all I can do. Control what I can control. Execute as an offense, and that's what I'm here to do."'

The rookie second-round pick's production kept Green Bay in the game from beginning to end, with his first catch going for a touchdown and his last nearly igniting a comeback.

Reed caught his first pass in the second quarter, a 35-yard touchdown from quarterback Jordan Love. At the time, the Packers were facing a daunting third-and-16 situation.

Running a post across the hashes, Reed gained a step on two Pittsburgh defensive backs as Love hit him in stride for Reed's fourth TD of the year.

With less than a minute remaining and the Packers down by four, Reed hauled in the longest catch of his young career off a somewhat unexpected sequence. Instead of running down the middle, Reed ended up on deep crosser. He came into Love's vision and picked up 46 yards to the Pittsburgh 35.

It was the chunk play Green Bay desperately needed to move into scoring territory in short time.

"My route was just to run down the middle. It was kind of a broken play," Reed said. "Jordan got rushed a little bit, and he put the ball in a great spot where I could make a play. So I just ran and made a play."

The Packers unfortunately were unable to turn the explosive gain into points, as Love was picked off on the final play of the game. However, Reed's performance once again showed the dimension he adds to the Packers' offense.

Reed currently leads Green Bay with 419 receiving yards on 28 receptions (14.9 yards per catch).

"J-Reed was just on fire," Musgrave said. "It's huge getting those explosive plays. Not only for the drive but for the momentum and the energy of the team."

Still more focused on the outcome, Reed was chatting with his fellow receivers in the postgame locker room minutes after the game.

Two conclusions were drawn from the analysis – there was a lot of good the offense did on Sunday but also a lot to improve upon.

"Just being self-critical with each other and just trying to find ways to win and stay together," Reed said. "That's the most important thing. That's the only way you can keep going forward, stick together as a group and find ways to get better."

More on Musgrave and Wicks: Musgrave, Green Bay's other rookie second-round pick, continued to show signs of progress in Pittsburgh.

The 6-foot-6, 253-pound tight end hauled in a 36-yard pass on third-and-7 down the seam in the third quarter and then brought down a 28-yard pass on a corner route in the fourth.

Musgrave's 29 catches on the season are second on the team behind only Romeo Doubs, while his 36-yard catch against the Steelers was one yard shy of his career long.

"It hurts, especially coming down to the last play," Musgrave said. "I think we fought four quarters. Again, we were just kind of behind the eight ball. They made maybe a few more plays than we did unfortunately, and this is the outcome."

Wicks caught a 23-yard pass to key Green Bay's first scoring drive while also converting a third-and-10 situation in the fourth quarter with a 32-yard catch in the middle of the field.

Check out photos from the Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.

Streak snapped: Najee Harris' 4-yard touchdown run to start the game snapped Green Bay's streak of 13 straight games without allowing the opposition to score a touchdown on its first possession.

It was the NFL's longest active streak going into Week 10.

"We started a little slow on defense and then you start figuring out after the first quarter," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "With a good team like that, you can't start off slow."

So close: For a moment, it appeared the Packers might be on the verge of getting a game-altering takeaway when Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett missed running back Jaylen Warren on a screen play in the second quarter.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur challenged the ruling on the field of an incomplete pass, sensing it might have been a backwards pass and fumble.

Linebacker Rashan Gary felt likewise while corralling the loose ball and trying to run it back for a touchdown. Ultimately, the ruling stood, and Green Bay was charged a timeout.

"To me, looking at the big screen, it looked like it was a little behind him, but at the end of the day, I'm not a referee," Gary said.


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