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Love, Packers fall to 49ers in 24-21 heartbreaker

When you hear the David and Goliath comparison in sports, it's rare for the David to truly have a chance. For the Green Bay Packers, they not only had a chance against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, but they even had a lead with 1:55 left in the 4th.

Unfortunately for Jordan Love and the Packers, they fell short in the best playoff game of the season. After posting a career 0-30 record when down seven going into the 4th quarter, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers pulled it together when it mattered most, and pulled off the comeback against Green Bay.

The story of the day was the special teams for Green Bay. While a blocked field goal and an incredible kickoff return from Keisean Nixon were immense positives for the Packers, Anders Carlson missed a 41 yard field goal that ended up being the deciding 3 points for Green Bay.

Obviously, as Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur said after the game, the scoring issues don't fall singlehandedly on Carlson, but a special teams failure against the 49ers will always be a topic of discussion among Packers fans.

"It’s tough to do to these guys. That’s what hurts the worst. They’ve got a bright future ahead of them, but it definitely hurts," said Carlson after the game.

As for LaFleur's exact thoughts on Carlson, he had two comments.

"When he goes out there, I just pray," and "If we knew what the issue was, we would have fixed it."

While special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia may have faith in Carlson, the rookie kicker was an absolute liability for the Packers, and the issue needs to be addressed with a minimum of competition in 2024 training camp.

On the defensive side of the ball, Joe Barry's unit played well, but not well enough. Darnell Savage dropped an interception in the first half, and Nixon dropped an additional one in the second half. The Packers had the ball for longer and rushed for more yards than the 49ers, but Green Bay's "bend but don't break" defense only lasted so long.

Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns in the second half after being held down in the first half by a stout Green Bay run defense. Once the Niners got back on track, Green Bay was on their heels and could not keep up with two offensive turnovers from Love.

Love will receive immense criticism on his two interceptions, and he should. As much as fans celebrate the good throws, they need to take a look at the bad ones. But, don't let a rough playoff game take away from the incredible progress Jordan Love has made towards becoming the 3rd straight legitimate franchise quarterback for the Packers.

"We saw so much growth throughout the course of the season. Not only from his ability, to playing consistent winning football and he grew as a leader. That's very important to be the franchise quarterback I expect him to be for a very long time," said LaFleur on Love.

There were interesting calls by officials for both sides, but I will stick with my age old saying for any team, no matter my affiliation.

"If you need the refs to make a call to win the game, you didn't deserve to win the game."

So instead of complaining about the refs, or the kicker, let's look at the future because it is bright.

Jordan Love had more passing yards, a higher completion percentage and a better EPA per play in 2023 than Aaron Rodgers did in 2022. Jordan Love led the youngest offense in the NFL and the youngest team since the 70's to the NFL playoffs, and they were the first 7th seed to ever win a 2/7 matchup. Love had a stretch of play that rivaled any 9 game span of Rodgers career, let alone 9 games of Rodgers' first season as starter.

I know the shades of Brett Favre will scare Packers fans, and that's ok. Be scared, but trust the process. While this team may not be good at defense, or special teams, Green Bay knows quarterbacks. And while the jury may still out, Love is in the Heir for Jordan and the Packer faithful for years to come.

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