5 standouts from Packers’ 18-17 win over Saints

A week ago in Atlanta, the Green Bay Packers couldn’t do anything right in the fourth quarter and it ended up costing them against the Falcons. This week, the Packers struggled for the first three quarters before mounting an incredible comeback to defeat the Saints 18-17.

“It was like a nightmare that went to a dream,” Matt LaFleur said after the game.

The offense was tough to watch for the first 45 minutes of Sunday’s home opener. They were once again down some key starters but saw their first seven drives end in zero points, mostly due to unforced errors and missed opportunities. However, the offense kept battling and, thanks to some late-game heroics from quarterback Jordan Love, scored 18 points over three straight fourth-quarter series to secure the win.

For as good as the offense was down the stretch, the defense kept the Packers in the game. One of New Orleans’ touchdowns came on a 76-yard punt return during the second quarter, so Joe Barry’s unit only gave up 10 points. It got a little dicey at the end, as they allowed the Saints to get into field goal range but were fortunate to watch rookie kicker Blake Grupe’s 46-yard attempt sail wide right. Overall, it wasn’t a complete performance, but the defense performed admirably without All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander, who was inactive with a back injury.

Not even a month into the season, injuries are starting to pile up for this Green Bay team, yet their performance in Week 3 showed a resilient group capable of overcoming great adversity. They now have a quick turnaround with the 2-1 Lions making a trip to Lambeau Field on Thursday, but we still have time to highlight the standouts from their come-from-behind win against the Saints.


QB Jordan Love

In his first home game as the team’s starting quarterback, Love completed half his pass attempts for 259 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

But stats haven’t been indicative of Love’s play this season. Whenever things have looked bleak for the offense, he has remained poised and in command. That was no different against the Saints, as Love was the driving force behind their improbable comeback. It started with a third down completion to Jayden Reed to jump-start the first touchdown drive, which ended with Love running in a read option on 4th and goal.

Love was even more masterful on the go-ahead scoring drive, starting with his 24-yard scramble down the sideline. Two plays later, he went back to Reed, who made an incredible diving catch for a 30-yard pickup. Love then capped it off with a nice back shoulder toss to Romeo Doubs for a touchdown.

Was it always pretty? No…but this game will be remembered for how Love came up huge when his team needed him.

WR Romeo Doubs

Doubs was relatively quiet in Atlanta, finishing with two catches for 30 yards. On Sunday, he was Love’s go-to receiver with 12 targets, resulting in five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. With Christian Watson on the sidelines these first three weeks, Doubs has been getting more attention from defenses. He hasn’t backed down from the challenge, however, and went on to make some crucial plays against New Orleans. His diving finger-tip grab in the third quarter didn’t go unnoticed, even though the Packers couldn’t capitalize with points. Doubs continued to make plays in big moments and caught what would be the game-winning touchdown.

TE Luke Musgrave

Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Luke Musgrave (88) catches a pass against the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:New England Patriots;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">New England Patriots</a> during their football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

Musgrave only being targeted seven times through the first two weeks wasn’t because he wasn’t getting open. Love must have recognized that his rookie tight end deserved more looks because Musgrave led the team in catches in Week 3. The second-round pick out of Oregon State caught six of his eight targets for 49 yards. This was our first real glimpse of Musgrave being featured in the passing game, and he delivered by flashing some smooth hands and route-running ability. Green Bay can still do more to unlock Musgrave’s true potential in the offense, but he has shown signs of a burgeoning star at tight end.

DT Kenny Clark

Clark has yet to be named to an All-Pro team, but that could change if he can maintain his fast start in 2023. Through the first three games, Clark already has two sacks and looks dominant as a pass rusher. He wasted no time being disruptive against the Saints, sacking Derek Carr on the first third down on the opening drive. Clark beat center Erik McCoy on the play, creating a 9-yard loss to force a punt. He ended the game with four tackles.

OLB Rashan Gary

Sep 24, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) celebrates his sack of <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:New Orleans Saints;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">New Orleans Saints</a> quarterback Derek Carr during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers could hand Gary a blank check for his next contract and it would be worth every penny.

While Sunday was a special day for Love, it was also highly profitable for Gary, who logged a career-high three sacks and carried no injury designation. After this performance, it’s safe to say Green Bay’s top edge rusher has fully recovered from last year’s ACL tear.

Gary’s first two sacks occurred on third down to get the defense off the field, with the second knocking Carr out with a shoulder injury. Gary’s final sack came against backup Jameis Winston on a crucial drive during the fourth quarter. He also had multiple pressures that forced incompletions.

The Packers picked up Gary’s fifth-year option in 2022 and have been waiting to see if he is the same player post-injury. The former first-round pick answered that question emphatically on Sunday and will expect to be compensated as one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers very soon. GM Brian Gutekunst might as well get it out of the way before the price tag goes up even more.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire