GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Don’t assume anything with these Green Bay Packers.
The NFL’s youngest team also is among its least predictable. One week after blowing a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 25-24 loss at Atlanta, the Packers erased a 17-point deficit in the final 11 minutes of an 18-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
“We never give up,” Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith said after the game. “We’re not the type of team that just waves the white flag. We’re going to keep fighting till the game is over. We’ll fight even in the parking lot. We don’t mind going out there and keep on chipping away, chipping away and fighting till the end of the game.”
Green Bay (2-1) discovered a week earlier that plenty of other teams have similar mindsets. The Packers allowed a win to slip through their grasp when they fell apart in the fourth quarter against the Falcons.
Consider that a lesson learned for a team full of inexperienced players. Rather than brooding over what went wrong in Atlanta, the Packers staged a fourth-quarter comeback of their own.
Green Bay got outscored by a combined 30-0 for a 60-minute stretch that began with the final period in Atlanta and carried over to the first three quarters of the Saints game. With several players out due to injury and their NFC North opener looming Thursday, the Packers could have gone through the motions in the final period.
They instead showcased their resilience.
The swing of emotions taught these young Packers plenty as they deal with a schedule that has them back in action to host Detroit just four nights after their big comeback.
“Just enjoy the process,” wide receiver Romeo Doubs said. “That’s all I can really say. Because a week ago, you were up 12, double-digit points and came out with an ‘L.’ There was a lot of conversation.
“Even with a win like this, does it give us confidence? Absolutely. But in the end, if you want to be real about everything, we’ve got to close the book and move on.”
QB Jordan Love wasn’t as efficient as he had been in the Packers’ first two games, but his ability to lead a fourth-quarter rally showed he might have what it takes to become a long-term starter. Jayden Reed and Doubs made outstanding catches that showed they can be reliable targets. Also, Green Bay’s pass rush came to life with four sacks.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The Packers’ ground attack isn’t the same without Aaron Jones, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury. Green Bay is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. ... The Packers were flagged 11 times Sunday and have 27 penalties this season. Only the Carolina Panthers have been penalized more often.
OLB Rashan Gary is all the way back from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his 2022 season in early November. Gary had three sacks Sunday, one of which knocked Saints QB Derek Carr out of the game. ... Doubs’ three TD catches over his first three games matches his total as a rookie last year. ... OT Rasheed Walker performed capably while starting in place of an injured David Bakhtiari at left tackle for a second straight week.
OT Yosh Nijman’s snap count dipped from 12 in the Falcons game to three on Sunday as Walker continues to assert himself as Bakhtiari’s backup at left tackle. Nijman started eight games in 2021 and 13 more last season, but he’s fallen down the Packers’ offensive line pecking order this season.
WR Christian Watson (hamstring) hasn’t played yet this season and Jones and Bakhtiari have each missed two straight games. CB Jaire Alexander (back) also didn’t play. CB Carrington Valentine started in Alexander’s place before leaving with a biceps injury. OT Zach Tom left with a knee injury late in the game. “Any time a guy isn’t able to finish, it’s a concern,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday about Tom’s injury. “So he’s doing better today. But we’ll give him up till game time to try to get it under control, and we’ll see where he’s at.”
2 — Number of times in franchise history the Packers have won a game in which they trailed by at least 17 points heading into the final period, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They rallied from a 20-3 deficit in the final period of a 24-23 victory over Chicago on Sept. 9, 2018.
The Packers’ Thursday night game against the Lions (2-1) gives them an opportunity at revenge. The Packers lost both their meetings with the Lions last season, including a home game on the final week of the season that prevented them from making the playoffs.
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