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Rapid reaction: What this win means is up to Packers

No substitute for positive vibes

Packers QB Jordan Love
Packers QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – The postgame word of the day was "building."

It was heard in the press conferences and in the locker room. Many times. It's been the goal, what the Packers have been trying to do for weeks, but losses aren't much to build on. Certainly not the way the Packers were losing.

A win, as flawed as it was Sunday at Lambeau Field in beating the backup QB-led Rams 20-3, at least changes the narrative, and the hope is it changes more than that.

"I think it energizes everybody," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "Certainly there's a lot of hours, a lot of time that goes into this thing, and a lot of effort, quite frankly. Nobody cares about your circumstances."

Which is why the Packers aren't apologizing for squelching a Rams offense that couldn't do much with Brett Rypien filling in for Matthew Stafford at quarterback.

The defense did what it should do, and looked the way it should look, in a matchup like this.

The offense still needed to do more early in the game, though it did take advantage of a short field off a turnover to score its first touchdown in the first half since Week 2.

But the miscues from there through the middle of the third quarter (outlined in the game recap) made this one harder than it should've been.

"The feeling was, we've got to finish the drive better," Love said of some scoring opportunities that got away. "We were able to start to move the ball, get a rhythm going, and we just weren't able to finish."

What the offense did late in the game is the real building block, though, because the steady production and success wasn't the result of rallying in desperation mode.

The Packers had a lead, and they executed to get the job done. It's a small step, but a meaningful one.

They put up three scores, totaling 13 points, in roughly a quarter's worth of time off the clock. Yes, the two stalls in the red zone leading to field goals weren't ideal, but those six points stretched the lead to two scores before the clinching TD in the final four minutes.

LaFleur told the players this was "mirror week," not only because of the similarities schematically between the Packers and Rams, but also because it was on every player to look in the mirror to see what he can do better to help the cause.

"When things get tough and you have some adversity, it's easy to look out and point out what everybody else is doing wrong," LaFleur said. "You've got to look internally and what can I do better? And I think our guys totally embraced that."

Check out photos from the Week 9 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on Nov. 5, 2023.

That final touchdown drive may be the most important building block of all, for a couple of reasons.

First, after underthrowing receiver Christian Watson on a deep ball in the first half, Love went back to him on a different deep pattern, and Watson made a leaping, contested grab for 37 yards. It was the kind of 50-50 play that only Romeo Doubs had been making in the receiving corps lately, and on this one Watson looked like he did when he went on that explosive-play binge last November.

"Just for everybody – for him, for myself – it's a confidence booster to be able to go out there and make that play," Love said. "It's huge. It's a big-time catch for him. It's exactly what we needed in that situation."

Unfortunately, Watson landed on the ball when he made the catch and was being evaluated after the game for possible chest and back injuries, as well as a concussion, though LaFleur said there was confidence a concussion was avoided.

Nonetheless, it was a put-'em-away moment followed by another one, rookie tight end Luke Musgrave's first NFL touchdown on a fake-both-ways play that saw Musgrave leak wide open over the middle.

"That's the name of the game and that's something that I think we've struggled at doing – finding ways to win the close games, the tough games, and just grind out and finish it," Love said. "It's definitely something that's hard. It's not easy in the NFL to get a win, so anytime you can get it, we're going to cherish it."

Of course it comes with the typical caveat.

"Obviously it's a great win but definitely just a win this week," Love said.

Then came the word of the day. Building. And growing of course. Always growing.

That's this team's task, and now come three opponents with winning records over the next four weeks, with the other looking to get to .500 with a win Monday night. Bigger challenges await.

"We just have to keep stacking going forward," Love said.

That word will work, too.


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