CHICAGO – After the 38-20 victory over the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field, Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur, fittingly, gave quarterback Jordan Love a game ball.
But it wasn't the appropriate gesture that mattered most. It was all the hooting and hollering from Love's teammates that could be heard through the locker room walls.
"Those guys were going crazy in there," Love said. "I love those guys. It feels great to have everybody behind you, for sure."
That was the sentiment expressed publicly all throughout the offseason and training camp, after the Packers traded Aaron Rodgers and officially moved on to Love as their new QB1.
It wasn't just for show, or to put on a brave face, or to say the proper things to the media. It was genuine, right from the start, and Love's impressive performance Sunday with three TD passes and a 123.2 passer rating validated the support he received from both the organization and those closest to him – his teammates.
"There's a big-time belief in that locker room for Jordan Love," LaFleur said. "I think the guys are going to rally around him. They're excited for him. They love him, they respect him.
"He comes to work every day with a great attitude, great energy, and you saw that today."
It wasn't a flawless performance by Love, for those who want to nitpick – and Love, LaFleur and QB coach Tom Clements most certainly will. He overthrew an open Luke Musgrave on a deep ball in the second quarter. He took a sack that almost knocked the Packers out of field-goal range late in the first half. He fumbled a snap. He threw behind his targets here and there.
But on balance, given everything that was weighing on him as he took the reins on Sunday, Love played really darn well.
He bounced back from the Musgrave overthrow to convert a big third down to Jayden Reed. He recovered the fumbled snap and turned it into a big play. He threw maybe one ball in harm's way, a misfire over the middle that looked a tad dangerous.
But again, that's being a little particular, all things considered.
LaFleur even took some blame for not getting another play in to him quickly enough after the sack in the two-minute drill. Ultimately, the head coach chose to use his last timeout, and rookie kicker Anders Carlson came through with the clutch kick.
But just the fact that LaFleur wanted to hustle up, get another play in, and try to make the field goal shorter after the sack speaks to the confidence he has in him. He said Love was upset with him at halftime, and was justified.
For his part, Love didn't really talk about himself much after the game.
He credited the offensive line for dynamite protection – that sack in two-minute was the only one of the game. He mentioned Saturday night visualizing "coming off the field with a win," not so much his own play. He noted his good start was thanks to the defense getting the early fourth-down stop and giving him a short field to go score.
The locker room may believe in him, but Love believes in this team just as much.
"You can definitely feel it," he said of the group's togetherness. "Just being in that locker room with the guys, they're awesome."
That's all easy to say after a victory. The Packers are celebrating, for good reason. But adversity is coming, guaranteed.
If the team is as together as it seems, it'll stay that way, and Love will grow more comfortable as the face of it, the leader he's steadily becoming.
"I think he's got a great perspective," LaFleur said. "He's been in this league for a few years. He knows it's only one game. It's a start, and you have to build upon it."
But for at least one night, he gets to revel in the success, his success as well as the team's.
"It feels great," Love said. "Definitely been a long time coming for me. Three years as a backup, watching, learning, growing … seeing this team work.
"Coming away with the 'dub,' it's just rewarding."