Are you finally ready to admit that Jordan Love is HIM?!
Entering this week, the Green Bay Packers had been on a bit of a mini-roll, beginning with a home win over the Los Angeles Chargers on two weeks prior. Now Love doubters will say, "It's the Chargers, big deal." The Chargers are better than people say they are, but even so, the big test came on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. This was a win we needed and it was against a Lions team that is not like the version we had seen for years. Love knew this, and absolutely dominated the Lions in Motown. A massive win on Thanksgiving against a Lions team who is favored to win the NFC North this season.
Jordan Love was passing the tests. The comparisons to Aaron Rodgers' first year in 2008 were there. Not only the same record after 11 games, but the yardage and touchdown total were identical!
But remember: "Jordan Love is a bust."
The Minnesota Vikings' Monday Night loss moved the Packers to within a half game of a playoff position. Once the Seattle Seahawks lost their Thursday Night thriller, that gave the Packers a chance to actually move above the playoff line. We were tied with the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints at 5-6 entering Week 13, but the Packers had the tiebreakers: head-to-head wins over both teams. Regardless of the outcomes of the Rams and Saints' games, the Packers could move past the playoff line with a win this week. Here's the thing: we were facing off against the defending Super Bowl Champions.
At least it was at Lambeau Field, though. That's new territory for Patrick Mahomes, as he had never played at Lambeau in his career. He would have to wait just a bit longer to take the field at Lambeau, as the Packers started with the ball, and actually spent over half of the first quarter on offense, complete with an opening drive touchdown. KC's first possession saw them get to goal-to-go range, but the defense sacked Mahomes twice, leading to a Harrison Butker 34 yard field goal in the final seconds. 7-3 Packers after one.
The second quarter was more of the same from Green Bay, but the drive was a tad shorter in alotted time. Packers went all the way again, with Christian Watson scoring to make it 14-3. Chiefs had a similar drive of their own: reached the red zone, prevented from scoring, another 34 yard field goal. The Packers' next possession saw us get close to field goal range, but ended up punting for the first time. Even then, the punt was down at KC's own two yard line, and that forced KC to take a knee and head to the locker room. Packers led 14-6 at halftime. It was a perfect first half for the Packers. The lead could have been a bit larger, but even so, Love was outplaying Mahomes at every turn.
The Chiefs started the second half with the ball, and on their first possession of the third quarter, they finally got in the end zone, with Isiah Pacheco running it in. The two-point conversion fell short, keeping the Packers ahead by that exact amount. Green Bay's first drive of the second half saw us get that touchdown back, and for the second time, it was Watson, making it 21-12 Packers. Chiefs needed to respond, and it was goal-to-go at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter started with Mahomes' touchdown pass to a tight end, but it wasn't Travis Kelce. Noah Gray had the score, and after the extra point, it was back to a two point game again.
Packers reached field goal range on our next possession, but couldn't go any further. Anders Carlson's 40-yard field goal made it 24-19 for the Packers, but after this point, that's when the bullshit started.
The Chiefs' next drive saw defensive pass interference called despite the fact that the ball was not catchable. Now, I admit, I expected illegal contact; that's usually what's called regardless of the ball being catchable or not. IC is five yards and an automatic first down. DPI, however, is a spot foul. They called the latter. As I was fuming over that nonsensical call, a funny thing happened: Mahomes' next pass was intercepted! Keisean Nixon picked off Mahomes, and as the saying goes, "Justice was served." We not only had the ball, but the clock was on our side. The Packers moved the ball very well and ate up a lot of that clock, forcing KC to burn their timeouts. However, we could not get the first down to ice it, and after Love was taken down for a sack, Carlson nailed a 48-yarder to put us up by 8, leaving KC with 69 seconds to get in the end zone and get a two-pointer.
Which brings me to the photos. The man making a hit towards Mahomes is Jonathan Owens. For some reason, this hit was "unnecessary roughness." Two things wrong with this: one, it was shoulder to shoulder, and two, Mahomes was inbounds! Yet the call stood, and KC received an unearned 15 yards. BTW, Owens is married to Simone Biles, and she had to have been pissed. Next pass was originally believed to be caught and fumbled, but the ruling was "down by contact." However, they had to move back 15 yards because Pacheco threw a punch at Nixon. Even so, because of all of the nonsense, Mahomes was within range of a moderately long clutch TD pass attempt. However, after a pair of incompletions, Mahomes tried to borderline Hail Mary it at the final five seconds, and it was knocked down!
The Green Bay Packers won, 27-19, over the reigning, defending, undisputed Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Even sweeter than that: the Packers led the whole game! Jordan Love's stats: 25/36, 267 yards, three touchdowns. Two of Love's touchdown passes went to Watson, who had 71 receiving yards during the evening. The Packers have now won three straight games, with two of them coming against big time playoff contenders, and not only are the Packers at 6-6, we are now above the playoff line, moving past the Rams and the Seahawks in the NFC ladder.
It gets better. The Packers have quite the cushy remaining schedule. After this, it's off to MetLife for a Monday Night meeting with the New York Giants, then at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the road against the very lowly Carolina Panthers, a road division battle against the Minnesota Vikings on New Year's Eve (on NBC), and the regular season finale at home against the Chicago Bears. Our remaining opponents have a combined record of 20-40 (.333); none of them have a winning record. From the looks of it, the Packers have quite an easy path to the playoffs, but when the NFL calendar turns to December, nothing is easy.
I do know this: it's high time that respect is put on Jordan Love's name. He doesn't need to do any more to prove that he is the real deal. He has already proven that he can win in the clutch, and he has proven he can win against high profile opponents. And trust me, Love will continue to improve, and he'll continue to become that gifted talent that we all know he can be.