No moral victories
Jordan Love played well again. But the horror show on defense returned, David Bakhtiari sat out and A.J. Dillon couldn't gain a yard. This 25-24 defeat will sting.
ATLANTA — When Jordan Love laced his third touchdown of the day to give the Green Bay Packers a 12-point lead over the Atlanta Falcons, the man who drafted the quarterback jolted out of his second-row seat in the press box.
Brian Gutekunst might’ve followed the same quarterback playbook as his predecessor but he differs — starkly — in the gameday energy department. Ted Thompson, essentially a royal guard, merely blinked during games.
Fist clenched, Gutekunst was a very happy man. The entire row of Packers front-office members was giddy, and why not? This 10-yard strike made Love the fourth Packers quarterback to ever throw three TDs in each of his first two games of a season. Aaron Rodgers did it in 2013 (his sixth), Brett Favre in ’96 (his sixth), Lynn Dickey in ’83 (his seventh). And here was Love, in Season No. 1, before even taking Lambeau Field as a starter, making history. Gutekunst’s master plan was coming together before his eyes inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The fourth quarter began.
The Packers self-destructed.
All week, you’ll likely hear that this 25-24 loss to the Falcons is the aw-shucks result of a team Learning How To Win. And, yes, that’s partially true. Many players on this roster have never been in a quick-sand situation like this. When a fourth-quarter lead helplessly slip… slip… slips away. When a Samuel L. Jackson “RISE UP!” recording blares over the speaker. But this narrative fits a lot more snugly if Love was the primary culprit, if Love attempted a foolish throw across his body that was picked and returned for a touchdown like a gaffe straight out of Favre’s early film. The QB did suffer one mistake late, but it’s a minor miracle the QB and this cast of 22- and 23-year-old receivers built such a lead. The Packers were without their starting left tackle (David Bakhtiari), left guard (Elgton Jenkins), No. 1 wideout (Christian Watson) and their most talented player (Aaron Jones).
The key to winning games this season was obvious. Green Bay needed to create a positive infrastructure for Love in the form of a strong rushing attack, a stingy run defense and timely turnovers.
Everything that happened after Touchdown No. 3 was a master class in how to botch all the above.