By Eric Goska
|(photos by Eric Goska)|
Better late than never.
Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Packers waited until the fourth quarter to score. Then, in those final 15 minutes, the Green and Gold awakened, rallying past the Saints 18-17 to win their 11th straight home opener while matching the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.
Such dramatics would not have been necessary had Green Bay’s offense shown up for 60 minutes. But down four starters – WR Christian Watson (hamstring), RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), T David Bakhtiari (knee) and G Elgton Jenkins (knee) – the Packers managed to do little beyond the 50-yard line in the opening three quarters.
Four of Green Bay’s first eight possessions ended with punts. The other four were derailed by failed fourth-down attempts (two), the end of the first half and quarterback Jordan Love’s first interception of the season.
The Packers moved the ball during those eight advances: 204 yards in 46 plays (4.4 average). But in 15 pokes in New Orleans territory, the team produced just 22 yards and one first down.
Furthermore, not until running back Patrick Taylor gained four yards rushing on the second-to-last play of the third period did Green Bay pierce the Saints’ red zone. And that drive ended two plays later when Love threw incomplete for Taylor on fourth down with the Pack in arrears 17-0.
A week ago in Atlanta, Love and Co. went nowhere in the fourth quarter. At home in front of a partisan crowd, the first-year starter and his mates hit their stride.
Not counting Love’s three kneel-downs to end the game, Green Bay gained 139 yards on 23 plays (6.0 average). The team picked up 78 yards on 17 snaps from beyond the 50.
Love, who was 0-for-6 in the final 15 minutes against the Falcons, hit on 7 of 17 throws for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. His 8-yard scoring strike to Romeo Doubs put Green Bay up 18-17 with 2 minutes, 59 seconds left.
Rookie kicker Blake Grupe then missed wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have given New Orleans the lead with 1:05 to go.
Going scoreless through three quarters is no way to win. Last season, teams in that position went 0-9.
Similarly, until edging New Orleans, the Packers had been a pitiful 2-59 in regular-season games since 1940 in which all their points had come in the fourth quarter. And those two wins occurred more than 60 years ago.
Down 14-0 in late October 1957, Green Bay outscored Baltimore 24-7 in the fourth quarter to squeeze by the Colts 24-21. In 1959, Vince Lombardi’s club put up nine points in the fourth to down the Bears 9-6 on opening day.
Being down by 17 or more heading into the fourth quarter is no way to win either. Last season, teams that far behind went 2-41-1.
Until Sunday, Green Bay had been 1-113 when trailing by such a large margin in games dating to 1921. That lone victory happened on opening day 2018 when Green Bay fell behind Chicago 20-3 after three quarters and Aaron Rodgers fired three fourth-quarter TD passes in a 24-23 win.
A Show of FourthSince 1921, Green Bay is 12-87-11 in regular-season games in which it only scored points in the fourth quarter. Listed below are those victories in which the Packers scored the most points.
Pts. Date Opponent Score after 3 Result
24 Oct. 27, 1957 Colts 0-14 GB won, 24-21
18 Sept. 24, 2023 Saints 0-17 GB won, 18-17
17 Oct. 19, 1924 Badgers 0-0 GB won, 17-0
14 Nov. 12, 1922 Marines 0-6 GB won, 14-6
9 Sept. 27, 1959 Bears 0-6 GB won, 9-6