But for a comeback from a 17-0 deficit, one that relied heavily on some longshot plays to work out in Green Bay’s favor on their home field on Sunday afternoon—the 2023 Lambeau Field opener—maybe we should not be surprised that LaFleur was especially emotional.
“It was a nightmare that went to a dream,” LaFleur said after the 18-17 comeback victory over New Orleans. “I think there are parts of where, I mean, I can’t remember the fourth quarter, it was all a blur.”
2-Point Conversion Changed Momentum
But LaFleur did pinpoint the moment when the game changed for the Packers: When he made the gutsy play call to go for a 2-point conversion when the Packers pulled to 17-9 with just under seven minutes to play. The Packers converted and pulled to 17-11, and the momentum finally turned their way.
“I think after we got that two-point conversion,” LaFleur said when asked when the momentum changed. “I have been on the other side of that thing now, when that momentum flips, it is a crazy phenomenon you can’t explain. I think there is just a lot of belief that we were gonna find a way.”
And LaFleur explained how the call came to be made, deferring credit to quarterbacks coach Connor Lewis and the belief in the team’s new starter, Jordan Love.
“I have this guy Connor Lewis in my ear, nonstop, saying, ‘Go for 2, go for 2,’” LaFleur said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t feel great about the play call. The execution definitely was not how we practiced it. But I had a lot of belief in how our quarterback was playing. … If the initial read isn’t there, you got a guy that can go off-schedule. And that’s what happened, he went off-schedule. The motion, the timing of the motion certainly was not right.”
Statement Win for LaFleur
But on the play, Love managed to find receiver Samori Toure in the end zone for the two points, following a fourth-and-goal run by Love for the team’s first touchdown. That made the score 17-9, and it went to 17-11 after the conversion, putting Green Bay in position to win with another touchdown.
Green Bay got that score with just under three minutes to play.
For LaFleur, the Packers’ comeback that resulted in an 18-17 victory is a signature win for a coach who had been tethered to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the entirety of his head-coaching career, and whose future is as much at stake in this season as is that of Rodgers’ successor, Love.
Love struggled, going 22-for-44 passing with a touchdown and interception, and posting a rating of just 66.4. The running game again struggled with Aaron Jones out, gaining 95 yards, 39 by Love. Yet, the Packers won.
And so the coach’s emotional cup runneth over. With good reason.
“I’ve never been part of a win like this,” La Fleur said. “The guys in the locker room the believe, they believe in one another and they continued to battle. That’s all you can ask of anybody, that you continue to fight, continue to battle. From an offensive standpoint, obviously there was a huge mistake on special teams, but they continued to battle for four quarters and to hold an offense to 10 points in this league, you typically win that game.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t usually get too emotional about it. But, you know, I just can’t say enough great things about this group.”