Jordan Love rallies Packers from 17-0 4th-quarter hole vs. Saints in stunning home debut at Lambeau Field

Through three quarters, Jordan Love's home debut as Green Bay's starting quarterback was a dud.

The Packers and their third-year signal caller trailed 17-0 against a stifling New Orleans Saints defense and stared down the barrel of a 1-2 start. Then Love rewrote the story.

The Packers responded with 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points as Green Bay rallied for an 18-17 win to stun the Saints and ensure that Love's home starting debut was a success. The win was the 11th straight in a home opener for Green Bay with the previous 10 arriving with Aaron Rodgers under center. The Packers improve to 24-8 in home openers since 1993, a stretch that dates back to the Brett Favre era.

“It was very hard,” Love told reporters of the comeback. “Especially when you haven’t done what you wanted all game, especially offensively. We hurt ourselves more than we helped ourselves.

“Just to be able to stay poised and stay confident in what we’re doing — to have that next-play mentality. It’s not easy. “

How the rally happened

After a fourth-quarter field goal got Green Bay on the board with 11:00 remaining, Love secured the first Packers touchdown of the day on a fourth-down scramble from the 2-yard line on Green Bay's next possession.

The Packers then rolled the dice on a two-point conversion that Love completed to Samori Toure. The score cut Green Bay's deficit to 17-11 and allowed the Packers to take the lead on their next possession.

They did so with a spectacular catch and throw from Love to Romeo Doubs on a third-down throw in the front right corner of the end zone.

The Saints had a chance to respond with the ball and 2:56 remaining and Jameis Winston filling in at quarterback for an injured Derek Carr. But a 46-yard field-goal attempt by rookie kicker Blake Grupe sailed wide right, sending Lambeau field into a frenzy.

The Packers secured the win despite the absence of several key players including All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and starting running back Aaron Jones. Second-year receiver Christian Watson was also inactive for a third straight game with a lingering hamstring injury.

Jordan Love's Lambeau field starting debut was a rousing success. (AP/Morry Gash)
Jordan Love's Lambeau Field starting debut was a rousing success. (AP/Morry Gash) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Love greeted with rousing ovation in Lambeau starting debut

Love was greeted with a hero's welcome from a Lambeau Field crowd eager to greet their new starter as the Packers continued to turn the page on the Rodgers era.

His reception threatened to be the peak of his day as Green Bay's offense remained stagnant through three quarters, setting an ominous tone. At halftime, Love had completed 7 of 16 passes for just 74 yards while the Saints limited the Packers to 116 offensive yards.

Rough start for Love

Green Bay's five first-half possessions ended with a turnover on downs, three punts and the end of the half. One of the punts was returned for a touchdown. The turnover on downs was a disaster near midfield on an opening-drive flea flicker that ended with Love desperately heaving an incomplete pass while falling down.

Love opened the second half with a third-down interception to Saints cornerback Lonnie Johnson on an errant deep ball.

Two possessions later, another Packers possession ended on a failed fourth down, this one on a fourth-and-2 pass to Patrick Taylor that sailed wide in the red zone. Things looked bleak for the Packers faithful.

But New Orleans' offense went stagnant after halftime and a shoulder injury that knocked Carr out in the third quarter.

The extent of the injury wasn't immediately clear, but resulted in a trip to the hospital for further evaluation. Winston took over at quarterback, and the Saints wouldn't score again, leaving the door open for Love and Green Bay to mount their fourth-quarter rally.

Love made the most of his opening. He finished the game completing 22 of 44 passes for 259 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He added 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground, a tally that included a 24-yard scramble down the left sideline that helped set up Green Bay's go-ahead touchdown.

He left Lambeau Field as he entered, to a rousing ovation from an ecstatic Packers crowd.

He'll look to improve to 2-0 at Lambeau Field on Thursday night in an NFC North clash with the Detroit Lions.