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Damnit Packers, Be Bad For A Few Years

Jordan Love celebrates the win
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It remains a frustrating quirk of NFL broadcasts that you can never see who a quarterback is throwing to if he aims farther than 10 yards downfield, but the drama of that horizontal pan only made Jordan Love's huck more astonishing when he helped make the play of the game in his Packers' win over the Chiefs.

Already leading 14-12 in the third quarter, Green Bay tossed conservatism out the window on a fourth-and-1 just past the 50—not only by leaving the offense out there, but by setting their sights on gaining more than a single yard. Love faced pressure from the Kansas City front, backpedaled, and chucked up what appeared at first like a doomed prayer. Those watching on TV had no idea what he was thinking when he looked in the direction of the abyss and let go. But the target was promptly revealed: Romeo Doubs in the center of a box of Chiefs' defenders. Doubs tracked the ball as he went to the ground, absorbed contact, and held on to finish a play that even KC's king of television wouldn't be able to match. And to further cement Love's bettering of Patrick Mahomes on a pure highlight-for-highlight basis, two plays later the Packers QB, again under pressure, placed the ball just high enough for Christian Watson to go up above his defender and bring down a spectacular catch.

In a massive Sunday night game for the Pack that got complicated and litigious at the end, Love went 25-for-36 with three touchdowns and no turnovers in order to raise Green Bay to 6-6 on the year. The record itself looks bland, but over the past few games this team has been anything but. After making a comeback to top the Chargers two weeks ago, the Packers have ripped off two wins against legitimate playoff competition, first on Thanksgiving in Detroit and now at Lambeau against the league's primetime darlings. In doing so, their first-year starter has played his best football, winning duels against Herbert, Goff, and Mahomes by avoiding interceptions, buying his receivers time to get open, and throwing where he needs to throw to give them a chance.

You hear on every Packers game about how young this team is, and for good reason. Love had just one start under his belt before replacing Aaron Rodgers, and of his five targets who have caught more than 20 passes, none of them have yet celebrated their 25th birthday. This unfamiliarity led to a lot of confusion and inconsistency in the first few months of this new-look Packers campaign. They beat the Bears handily in week one—of course—but after that Love was painfully stop-and-start, delivering at best one great half per Sunday as he mixed mental lapses with glimpses of talent. For a neat contrast, recall Love's hurried misfire for his third pick against the Raiders, which gave Josh McDaniels a win, and then the equally pressure-packed longball he so coolly completed on this Sunday's fourth-and-1.

We briefly tried a bit where writers attempted to decipher contradictory evidence and declare whether or not Love was any good. In retrospect, he and his receivers may have just needed a little time to break the ice and get comfortable. With their toughest games behind them, and fellow NFC 6-6ers like the Vikings and Seahawks trending down, the Packers have without almost any warning replanted themselves in the postseason picture. They couldn't have given everyone else just a little more of a break?

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