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Jordan Love stays cool and steady in relief appearance vs. Eagles

Packers backup quarterback led two fourth-quarter scoring drives in place of Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love

PHILADELPHIA – Jordan Love took a breath, said a prayer, and just played football.

That was the approach the Packers' backup quarterback took after Aaron Rodgers jogged to the locker room late in the third quarter with a rib injury he would not return from during Sunday night's 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pressed into action, Love looked poised and confident under the Lincoln Financial Field lights, while leading a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives to keep Green Bay within range of the NFC-leading Eagles.

"I was telling myself – stay calm, stay relaxed, go out there and do what I do every day in practice," Love said. "Obviously, the situation is what the situation is. I said a prayer on the sideline, and I tried to stay relaxed. I told myself, 'Let's go win the game.'"

While Love made two late appearances against Minnesota and the New York Jets when the outcomes were largely decided, Sunday was different as the Packers had just pulled within 11 points of the Eagles' lead, 34-23, after Mason Crosby made a 29-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left in the third quarter.

As Rodgers came back to the sideline after the series, Love could tell the reigning NFL MVP was in considerable amount of pain and began loosening up as Rodgers headed to the locker room.

The former first-round pick felt prepared for the relief appearance after taking more first-team reps in practice this year than perhaps his first two NFL seasons combined due to Rodgers' lingering thumb injury. Love entered the game with 11:11 left on the game clock and quickly got to work.

He converted the offense's first third down of the game with a 7-yard out to Allen Lazard before connecting with Watson on a pass across the middle that the rookie second-round pick took to outside and up the sideline en route to a 63-yard touchdown, the Packers' longest offensive play of the season.

"I thought he came in and didn't skip a beat," said Watson, who finished with four catches for a game-high 110 yards. "When he came in, it felt like he had been in there before with all of us. I think we had a good shot with it."

With Rodgers in the locker room, Philadelphia countered with a lengthy 10-play, 43-yard drive that ate 6 minutes, 44 seconds off the clock. The series culminated in a Jake Elliott 54-yard field goal with 2:21 left that pretty much sealed the game.

Still, Love went back out and took what Philadelphia's defense was giving him. Following Keisean Nixon's 53-yard kickoff return, Love threw a 15-yard pass to Watson and then delivered a 17-yard dart to Lazard across the middle, which led to a 33-yard Crosby field goal that brought the Packers back within one score.

Standing tall in the pocket, Love finished 6-of-9 for 113 yards and a touchdown (146.8 passer rating). While an admittedly small sample size, the relief performance was a positive sign of growth after a spot start against Kansas City last year that Love studied at length in the offseason.

See scenes from the Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 27, 2022.

"My mindset was I have to improve on that," said Love, who threw for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the 13-7 loss to the Chiefs last November.

"All-out (blitz) looks, you know those are going to come in the future after defenses see that. I feel like I have an answer ready for that and make defenses pay. That's kind of where my mindset has been, improving that and improving the understanding of protections and where I need to go with the ball, and different looks."

The prognosis for Rodgers remains uncertain after it was unclear on X-rays at the stadium whether he'd broken any ribs. More scans are expected to be run this week. Regardless, Love plans to approach this week in practice no different than the past two months. If needed next Sunday in Chicago, he'll be ready.

"I'm walking out of here the same. I'm going to prepare as if Aaron won't be able to play," Love said. "I'll go out there and I'm going to prepare this whole week like that. Who knows what will happen? I'm not sure. But that's pretty much how I prepare every week. It's obviously a little different this week given the circumstances, but I'll prepare the same."


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