ATLANTA (AP) — Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur wanted to blame crowd noise for a failed fourth-and-1 sneak by Jordan Love that opened the door for Atlanta's go-ahead touchdown drive.
It turns out LaFleur was just being kind, trying to take his young quarterback off the hook following Sunday's 25-24 loss to the Falcons.
Love was more blunt, saying he deserved blame for the the failed sneak because he didn't correctly call the play from the Green Bay 34 with the Packers leading 24-22 in the fourth quarter. Love tried to call for the sneak but didn't get the snap when expected and took off on the plunge without the ball.
Green Bay was penalized for a false start and had to punt, setting up Atlanta's go-ahead drive capped by Younghoe Koo's 25-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining.
“Yeah, just messed up the operation with the cadence on that one,” Love said. “Not everybody got the call to get the sneak, so I messed that operation up right there.”
Added Love: “I said the wrong thing. It’s pretty much not a play until I give the live word, pretty much, and I gave the wrong live word on that one.”
Asked if he forgot the live word, Love said “Just messed it up.”
LaFleur said Love had the option to change the play at the line “if he thought he could get it on the sneak then it’s on him to check to it. I think he did. And nobody heard him. I mean it was loud and, you know, that’s just it’s an unfortunate situation.”
It was a crucial part of the Packers' frustrating fourth quarter. Green Bay led 24-12 before the Falcons rallied. The Packers gained 11 yards on three fourth-quarter possessions.
Love was 0-for-6 passing in the decisive quarter.
“I think it just comes down to execution and being better in the fourth quarter and being able to play a full game,” Love said. “I think we didn’t execute well enough in the fourth quarter, weren’t able to move the ball on third down. That’s really what hurt us.”
Love's overall statistics were far more positive. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 151 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had added two carries for 23 yards.
Love was sacked only once, by Kaden Elliss in the first quarter.
“I thought he did a lot of great things,” LaFleur said. “I thought he showed great poise. ... He made throws when they needed to be made, made great decisions, took did a good job taking care of the football. So there was a lot of positives from that. I think that, you know, quite frankly, I wish we had more opportunities for him.”
The rookie receivers were only part of a very young Green Bay offense. Three starters were held out with injuries: wide receiver Christian Watson (hamstring), running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee). Another starter, left guard Elgton Jenkins, departed in the second quarter with a knee injury.
The injuries placed more pressure on Love, in his first season as the starter.
“It’s tough not having those guys out there but it’s never an excuse,” Love said. “It’s always next man up. Other guys got to step up. I think guys did step up but it sucks not having them.”
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