Packers, Love, rally for big win

GREEN BAY – The growth and development of Jordan Love as a reliable starting NFL quarterback took another step forward here Sunday. Love went 27-40 passing for 322 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

But much more importantly, he led his team to a pair of touchdowns late in the third and then fourth quarter to complete the come-from-behind victory, 23-20 at Lambeau Field over the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.

Trailing 13-10 nearing the end of the third quarter, Love calmly spearheaded an efficient 5-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by a 27-yard completion to rookie wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks and another 27-yard reception to rookie tight end Tucker Kraft that was originally called a touchdown before replay ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 11-yard line.

Two plays later, Love’s touch-pass to second-year receiver Christian Watson gave Green Bay a 16-13 lead with just four seconds to play in the third quarter.

The Chargers mounted an immediate response, marching 73 yards in just five plays to the Green Bay 2-yard line before Austin Ekeler fumbled on a 2nd and goal running play. The ball was recovered by the Packers Kenny Clark and preserved lead.

“I thought our guys challenged them, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of his defense. “I’ve got to give (Joe Barry) a ton of credit. He was playing some single safety there, which I don’t think a lot of people would, but that’s the style of quarterback you’re going against.”

Two possessions later, however, Los Angeles was able to take the lead on a Justin Herbert-to-Keenan Allen 10-yard touchdown pass that capped a methodical 11-play, 63-yard drive that saw the lead see-saw back to the Chargers at 20-16 with 5:24 left to play.

Love gathered his team at their own 25-yard line and almost immediately avoided disaster when he fumbled while being sacked by veteran Chargers edge rusher Khalil Mack. Fortunately for Green Bay, right tackle Zach Tom fell on the ball, preserving possession but giving the Packers a daunting 3rd and 20 on their own 15-yard line.

Love and the Packers were bailed out when Asante Samuel, Jr. was flagged for pass interference on a pass attempt to Wicks, giving Green Bay a fresh set of downs.

Wicks was on the receiving end two plays later on a 35-yard strike, giving the Packers a first down on the Chargers 26-yard line. After a short run by A.J. Dillon, Love tossed his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, this one to Romeo Doubs for the 23-20 lead that would ultimately be the game’s final score.

“We finished it off,” Love said when asked what the difference was in Sunday’s game versus some of the Packers other close losses this season. “The message in the second half, it’s a 0-0 ballgame, it was, ‘Go finish.’ Offense, we scored two ‘tugs’ (touchdowns) in the second half … and the defense balled out.”

The Packers were hit with the injury bug at running back late in the first half. Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury that looked serious at the time but appears to not be serious. Jones was carted off the field with a towel tightly wrapped around his eyes but was visibly wincing on his way out, briefly waving to cheering fans on his way up the tunnel.

“I know it’s not my ACL, so we’re good there,” a relieved Jones said after the game to reporters in the locker room.

“I don’t think it’s long term,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said in his postgame media availability. “It certainly looked bad, and I was really concerned just seeing it live. I didn’t see a replay or anything but seeing it live did not look good. He’s in good spirits in there and hopefully it’s just a short-term deal.” 

In addition, backup Emmanuel Wilson left the game shortly after Jones did with a shoulder injury and like Jones, did not return to the game.

Jones will have an MRI on Monday.

The Packers (4-6) will now have a short week to prepare for the first-place Lions (8-2) in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

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