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Jordan Love & Packers offense continue to struggle in 17-13 loss to Raiders

Jordan Love’s three interceptions more or less defined this game for the Packers, who fell to 2-3 on the season.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was more of the same for the Green Bay Packers’ offense on Monday night in Las Vegas. Matt LaFleur’s unit got next to nothing going in the first half before briefly finding a rhythm in the third quarter, but ultimately Jordan Love made too many mistakes to overcome a deficit in the fourth quarter and notch another comeback victory.

Instead, Love threw three touchdown passes, including a pair in the final 15 minutes, as the Packers fell to the Raiders 17-13.

Green Bay had to play without Aaron Jones once again, despite the star running back practicing all week — albeit on a limited basis. Indications pointed to Jones being able to play all week, however, so the Packers may have been caught off guard by his absence, potentially leading to the slow start.

Still, Green Bay’s five meaningful drives in the first half yielded seven first downs and just three points as the team surprisingly leaned on the running game early on. The third quarter was again the team’s best, as they outscored the Raiders 10-0 in that period, but an early fourth-quarter touchdown by Josh Jacobs put Las Vegas ahead for good, with Love’s two late picks helping to clinch the game.

Making life difficult for Love and the offense was defensive end Maxx Crosby, who was a one-man wrecking crew. Crosby had a sack, numerous quarterback pressures, and a whopping four tackles for loss, as he gave fits to anyone who tried to block him — tackles Rasheed Walker and Zach Tom, tight ends like Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, and Ben Sims, and anyone else.

On defense, the Packers actually performed admirably, particularly considering that two starters down the middle, linebacker Quay Walker and safety Darnell Savage, left the game with injuries. The unit gave up just 17 points, below its season average, and did an admirable job holding the Raiders to a field goal after Love’s first pick gave Las Vegas an extremely short field. Green Bay’s pass rush was able to affect Jimmy Garoppolo with four sacks and the team got an interception of its own from Rudy Ford in the third quarter, but it was not enough with the offense sputtering throughout the bulk of the contest.

The Packers now head into their bye week with a losing record and major questions continuing to swirl about their offensive identity. The Raiders were missing multiple players in their secondary, and yet the passing game was held to less than 200 yards. It will be a long two weeks for Jordan Love, who will need a get-right game against the Denver Broncos and their historically bad defense in week seven to get the narrative moving back in his favor.

The same moribund offense that the Packers have trotted out in the first halves of the last two games showed up again on Monday, as Green Bay managed just three points and 112 yards before the break. With Aaron Jones unavailable, the Packers tried to establish the run with AJ Dillon, who had eight carries and 28 yards in the first half. However, the offense looked disjointed for much of the half once again, with an offensive line that was struggling to keep Jordan Love protected.

After reaching midfield and punting on the first drive of the game, the Packers took an early lead on their second drive. A couple of big gains from tight ends Josiah Deguara and Ben Sims, a 26-yard run by Jordan Love, and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Raiders’ Maxx Crosby set the Packers up just inside the red zone, and Anders Carlson came on for the first points of the game.

The Raiders would then break off an agonizing, 14-play, 8-minute drive in the second quarter, working their way steadily down the field and into the end zone. The Packers lost linebacker Quay Walker on that series to a knee injury, which forced them to roll with their two backup inside linebackers, Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson, for the remainder of the game. They would lose safety Darnell Savage to a calf injury late in the first half as well.

Jordan Love’s fourth interception of the season set up the Raiders’ second score of the day, but the Green Bay defense kept it to a short field goal. On the first play of a series late in the second quarter, Love failed to see linebacker Robert Spillane dropping into coverage and threw it right to him, but the Packers’ defense made Las Vegas lose a yard on three plays before kicking a field goal for a 10-3 lead.

A late sequence threatened to give the Raiders a bigger lead before halftime, but after some questionable time management by Josh McDaniels — including not taking one of his two remaining timeouts before a Packers punt, robbing his offense of 40 seconds — the Packers’ secret special teams weapon delivered a big moment. With Daniel Carlson, the older brother of Packers kicker Anders, setting up for a 53-yard field goal, offensive tackle Yosh Nijman leapt up and got a hand on the football, keeping the score within seven points at the break. At 6-foot-9, Nijman has been in on the Packers’ field goal block teams in recent weeks, and finally came through with a big play.

Also delivering a big play early in the third quarter was safety Rudy Ford, who picked off Jimmy Garoppolo on the first drive of the second half. That gave the Packers the ball at the Raiders’ 37-yard line, and the offense had much better success running the football with Dillon on the ensuing drive. He picked up a total of 34 yards on six carries on the series, converting a 4th-and-2 and eventually punching into the end zone from four yards out to tie the game at 10.

After a 3-and-out by the Raiders, the Packers got their longest play of the season on offense, setting up a field goal to take the lead. With Love rolling out to his left off play-action, he made a perfect throw on the run to a wide-open Christian Watson, who cut upfield for a 77-yard gain before being brought down by a horse-collar tackle:

The penalty prevented a touchdown, however, and two unproductive Dillon runs and an incomplete pass led to the younger Carlson’s second field goal of the game and a 13-10 Packers lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Raiders got Davante Adams going on the ensuing drive. Adams caught three passes for 33 yards to set up Josh Jacobs’ 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Green Bay’s next offensive series started off well, with Love picking up a pair of third downs on passes to Dontayvion Wicks and Luke Musgrave. But he got aggressive on 2nd and 17 on a throw to Watson, who was blanketed by Marcus Peters. The Raiders’ cornerback broke up the pass and it landed in Spillane’s hands for his second interception of the game. Rashan Gary sacked Garoppolo on third down to ensure that the Raiders would not extend their lead further on that drive, but a three-and-out from Green Bay’s offense gave the Raiders a chance to run some clock down and add to their lead.

The Raiders took the clock to the two-minute warning, but faced a 4th-and-1 on the outer edge of field goal range after the break. McDaniels could have kept his offense on the field, to effectively clinch the victory, but instead he brought out Daniel Carlson for a 52-yard field goal attempt to try to go up by 7 points. Carlson’s kick hit the right upright and bounced away, keeping the Packers’ chances to win the game in regulation alive.

That left the Packers with a timeout and just under two minutes left to try to go win the game with a touchdown. The offense got a first down with short passes to Luke Musgrave and Patrick Taylor, then Taylor moved the chains again on the ground. Drops by Romeo Doubs and Musgrave set up the Packers at the 35 with a 3rd-and-10, and Love took a shot to the end zone for Watson. He left the ball short, and cornerback Amik Robertson hauled it in for a game-sealing interception, the third of the night off Love.

Love finished the game 16-for-30 passing, totaling just 182 yards through the air. 91 of those yards went to Watson, including the big gain of 77. Dillon scored the Packers’ only touchdown and gained 76 yards, a season-high, but still did so with less than 4 yards per carry.

The Packers will limp into their week six bye at 2-3 and on a two-game losing streak before they head west again to face the Denver Broncos in week 7.