The Green Bay Packers got a game-winning touchdown pass from Jordan Love to Romeo Doubs and held on for a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Love enjoyed his first 300-yard game with the Packers and the offense did not turn the ball over. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 23-20 win over the Chargers.
First Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Jordan Love Continues to Improve
Love threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns and did not throw an interception in the game. He also led the Packers to a game-winning drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Love still underthrew some long passes but also completed several passes for long gains. He also showed some leadership in leading the late drive and overcoming some mistakes earlier in the game.
More importantly, the Utah State alum made some good reads and adjustments especially on the touchdown pass to Doubs where both quarterback and receiver made the same in-play read and the result was six points.
Right now, Love is far from a finished product, but he’s played better the past two games and enjoyed his best statistical performances in those contests.
Second Thing We Learned: Injuries Hit Hard Especially at RB
The Packers started the game with three active running backs but ended it with just one healthy player at the position.
Aaron Jones left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. He was clearly in pain as he headed to the locker room and did not return to the game.
Postgame, head coach Matt LaFleur said he did not believe the injury was long-term. The Packers play again on Thanksgiving Day so Jones may not be ready for that important contest.
Jones’ injury would have given more chances to Emanuel Wilson. Unfortunately, Wilson left the game with a shoulder injury shortly after Jones did and he did not return.
That left A.J. Dillon as the only healthy running back. Dillon gained just 29 yards on 14 carries. The Packers leading rusher in the game was wide receiver Jayden Reed who ran three times for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Run Defense Continues to Struggle
The Packers run defense continues to struggle although it’s never Joe Barry’s priority. The Chargers ran 24 times for 150 yards, an average of 6.3-yards per attempt.
Keep in mind, these numbers could have been even worse had Austin Ekeler not slipped not slipped several times on the Lambeau Field turf.
The Chargers leading rusher was quarterback Justin Herbert who ran eight times for 73 yards including a 28-yard scramble.
The defense is still missing too many tackles and isn’t keeping contain on the edge. It’s not a good combination and still needs improvement.
Fourth Thing We Learned: The Young Receivers Are Maturing
The Packers young receivers still have work to do, but they’re starting to make more plays. Dontayvion Wicks caught three passes for 91 yards including a long gain of 35 yards. Christian Watson caught a touchdown pass that should help boost his confidence a bit. It was good to see LaFleur design plays for him that weren’t just long bombs way downfield.
Reed caught four passes while Doubs led the team with five catches including the game-winning score. Even Malik Heath made his first career NFL reception.
The receivers are making fewer mistakes and learning to adjust their routes mid-play. The maturing process is starting to show fruit although there’s still plenty of room for growth and more consistency.
Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Packers Got a Huge Turnover
The Packers won the turnover battle 1-0 when they forced a fumble at the Green Bay five-yard line. Ekeler coughed off the football and Rashan Gary recovered it for the Packers.
At the time, the Pack was clinging to a 16-13 lead. Had the Chargers scored on the drive, they likely would have gone ahead and had a much better chance to win the game.
The Packers did not turn the ball over at all and the one turnover they caused was vital to the team’s eventual win.
Sixth Thing We Learned: Drops Helped the Defense
The Chargers receivers had trouble holding on to the football and that helped the Packers defense. One drop in the first half cost Los Angeles a likely conversion on fourth down.
Another drop took place on third down in the red zone and forced the Chargers to settle for a field goal.
Herbert finished the game completing 21-of-36 but his numbers would have been stronger without the four drops at key times.
Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Anders Carlson Struggled Again
Packers kicker Anders Carlson didn’t have a great game. He missed a field goal although it was a 52-yard attempt, and the snap was high.
More importantly, Carlson missed an extra point, the second one he’s missed. That miss made the end of the game very different. The Chargers needed only a field goal to send the game to overtime in their final drive. Had Carlson made the kick, Los Angeles would have needed a touchdown.
Carlson needs to be more consistent on his extra points and on his kickoffs as the weather gets colder and the kicking conditions get worse.
Eighth Thing We Learned: The Green Bay Defense Was Clutch
The Packers defense came up big when it counted most. The Chargers were in the red zone four times and scored just one touchdown.
The Packers stopped the Chargers on both of their fourth down conversion attempts.
Kenny Clark knocked down the Chargers final pass attempt on fourth down at the line of scrimmage to clinch the win.
Gary had a big sack and the key fumble recovery.
The Packers defense gave up 394 total yards, but they did make key stops when it counted most.
Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The WRs Helped the Running Game
Reed ran three times for 46 yards to lead the team. He scored a touchdown on a jet sweep. Watson had one carry but gained only one yard. With the running backs banged up, Reed was able to step up and help the running game which still only gained 102 yards on 28 carries for a 3.6-yard average.
Without Reed’s contributions, the Packers rushing offense would have gained just 56 yards on 25 carries for a paltry 2.2-yard average. Obviously, the run blocking needs to be better.
It will be interesting to see how many running plays LaFleur calls for wide receivers Thursday in Detroit if Jones and Wilson are unable to play.
Tenth Thing We Learned: The Packers Won a Close One
One thing young players need to do in the NFL is learn to win close games. It’s a skill that takes time to learn and is usually learned only through experience.
Love and this young offense have now won two one-score games this season which is one more than Aaron Rodgers won in his first season as a starter in 2008.
The Packers still have a lot further to go as this young squad develops, but they took another small step forward Sunday against the Chargers.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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