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Rapid reaction: 'It wasn't good enough' when it needed to be

Jordan Love just wanted, and needed, to get something started late in the game

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

ATLANTA – Nothing's easy in the NFL.

Certainly not a quarterback's first crack at a last-minute drive for a victory.

That's what Jordan Love got Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a chance at that final drive. Down 25-24, ball on the 25-yard line, 57 seconds left, no timeouts.

"It's something we practice all the time," Love said. "It's definitely something we expect to get right. We have a chance to win that game."

Only it's even harder when your three quarters of solid work, throwing three TD passes and building a 24-12 lead, have already been undone by a failure to move the ball on offense and an inability to stop the opponent on defense the rest of the fourth quarter.

The Packers had gone three-and-out twice. The Falcons had scored a touchdown and two field goals. Love and an injury-riddled offense had nothing going for them, and they had to try to make something work.

Nothing did. Four incompletions and the game was over. 0-for-4, added to the 0-for-2 two possessions earlier, after starting 14-for-19.

"Just get a completion," Love said of what he felt he needed. Get a completion to get the drive started. That's what we weren't able to do right there. It was tough."

It's cliché to say these are the growing pains every NFL quarterback goes through, but it's a cliché because it's true.

Love hadn't been in this situation before when it truly counted, and it came on the road, inside, amidst a lot of noise, with nothing to draw from following the two previous failed drives.

Love thought he had Jayden Reed on first down and Romeo Doubs on third down in the final minute. But Reed turned one way on his stop route with the ball going the other, and the sideline pass to Doubs was a bit overthrown.

Regardless, nothing was working, making the second-to-last possession the more regrettable one, realistically. Leading by two points with just over eight minutes left, the Packers ran AJ Dillon twice for nine yards.

Then Dillon appeared to have a hole on third-and-1, only to get tripped up and marked short. Love hustled up to sneak it on fourth down but the communication was off, leading to a procedure penalty. Their best shot at a first down vanished into the din of a dome.

"I think it just comes down to execution and being better in the fourth quarter, being able to play a full game," Love said. "We didn't execute well enough in the fourth quarter, couldn't move the ball, couldn't convert on third downs."

Would one first down there, with just over six minutes left, gotten things going? Maybe. LaFleur seems to think so.

At that stage, Love wasn't that far removed from his efficient, productive three quarters of work that put the Packers in position to win.

"I thought he was playing really well, showed poise, made some off-schedule plays, made great decisions, did a good job taking care of the ball," LaFleur said. "A lot of positives from that.

"Quite frankly, I wish we would've had more opportunities for him."

Check out photos from the Week 2 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.

That comment would seem to indicate a first down with about six minutes left would've led to LaFleur opening up and attacking. It's certainly easier to put the ball, and the game, in your young QB's hands with the lead as opposed to being behind.

The word "hindsight" even slipped out of LaFleur's mouth when talking about that possession with three straight runs. It sounded like he'll be thinking about other play calls he liked to get the offense moving, to avoid getting bogged down before it was too late.

But that's life in the NFL, as is seeing a 2-0 record morph into 1-1, whether it's in a matter of moments or a wave of missed chances.

"I think the last possessions of the game are good lessons for all of us, how we have to execute," Love said. "Every play matters in this league."

So does every opportunity to learn, especially from a frustrating loss.

"It wasn't good enough," Love said.


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