GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love’s first regular-season home start has him attempting something nobody has accomplished over the last 10½ months.
The New Orleans Saints (2-0) come to Lambeau Field on Sunday having held each of their last 10 opponents to 20 points or less. The last time the Saints allowed more than 20 points was in a 27-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 7, 2022.
That offers quite the challenge for Love, who leads the NFL in passer rating two weeks into his first season as a starter.
“They do what they do and they stick to it,” Love said. “They don’t do a whole lot of crazy stuff. They have some really good pressure packages on third down, but I think they’ve got a good front that gets a lot of pressure home just with four, and then they play some good coverages, some sticky coverages in the back end and really challenge receivers and do a good job pressing and getting hands on and just throwing off timing.”
Love and the Packers (1-1) are attempting to bounce back from a 25-24 loss at Atlanta in which they squandered a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead.
Aside from that late collapse, Love has played well in his first year taking over for four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets in April. Love has thrown three touchdown passes without an interception in each of Green Bay’s first two games while leading a young Packers offense that’s dealing with multiple injuries.
“He’s really athletic and so he’s able to buy some time in the pocket, get out of the pocket, does a good job of scrambling,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s a bigger-body player, so he’s hard to get down, hard to get on the ground. I think he’s got a really strong arm, can throw the ball from a lot of different arm angles and change the launch point.”
The Saints have their own strong-armed quarterback in Derek Carr, who arrived from Las Vegas in the offseason after spending nine seasons with the Raiders. But the strength of the Saints is a defense that has allowed only one touchdown.
“They’ve got a ton of players on that defense and they challenge you,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I told our guys on the perimeter, they’re going to grab and hold and that’s what they do. But they play aggressive and you’ve got to be very fundamentally sound. Up front, you’ve got to do a great job of coming off the ball and playing with great pad level because they are a physical bunch and they play with extreme effort.
“And when you get effort plus scheme plus talent, you have one of the best defenses in the National Football League.”
The Saints won’t have safety Marcus Maye, who received a three-game suspension Wednesday for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Saints running back Alvin Kamara will be finishing his three-game suspension to start the season. Kamara’s suspension is connected to his role in a February 2022 altercation in a Las Vegas hotel during Pro Bowl weekend.
Green Bay has been dealing with injuries to its offense through the early part of this season. Wide receiver Christian Watson missed Green Bay’s first two games with a hamstring injury. Running back Aaron Jones sat out the Falcons game with a hamstring issue.
Packers left guard Elgton Jenkins is out with a sprained medial collateral ligament and left tackle David Bakhtiari missed the Falcons game with a lingering knee problem.
Saints running back Jamaal Williams isn’t expected to play due to a hamstring pull. The Saints expect rookie running back Kendre Miller, a third-round draft choice out of TCU, to return from a hamstring injury and make his regular-season debut Sunday.
LOVE’S YOUNG TARGETS
The Packers opened the season with the NFL’s youngest roster, and their inexperience is most evident at receiver. Yet those young wideouts have thrived so far.
Rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed had two touchdowns and fifth-round selection Dontayvion Wicks also scored in the Falcons game. Romeo Doubs, a 2022 fourth-round pick, had two touchdowns in a season-opening 38-20 victory at Chicago.
SLOW STARTS, SLOW FINISHES
In both of their games, the Saints haven’t reached the end zone before three minutes remained the third quarter. The Saints have yet to score more than 20 points in a game. Their margins of victory have been just one and three points.
The Packers’ issue is finishing. They lost to the Falcons by getting outscored 13-0 and outgained 166-11 in the fourth quarter.
Although the Saints are unbeaten, they may need to keep winning to keep pace in the NFC South, which is shaping up as the NFL’s most improved division.
The Saints, Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all are 2-0. The Bucs won the division last year despite going just 8-9.