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Matt LaFleur: Packers 'learned a valuable lesson' in loss to Giants

The young Green Bay Packers learned a tough lesson on Monday night at MetLife Stadium, falling 24-22 to the New York Giants: never underestimate an opponent.

"Obviously, extremely disappointed," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said after the loss, via the official transcript. "I think our team learned a valuable lesson in terms of if you don't play your best, it doesn't matter who you're playing, where you're playing them, when you're playing, you're not going to win the game. We lost the turnover battle and weren't good enough in situational ball, third-down red zone. We had plenty of opportunities. Give New York credit, they went out there, and they played better than we did tonight. This game is about execution, and we didn't execute to the best of our ability."

The Giants entered the game 4-8 with little to play for. LaFleur's team was 6-6, on a three-game win streak -- including victories over Detroit and Kansas City -- with the postseason in sight. 

It looked like a youth-filled Packers offense had been reading the press-clipping early, expecting a cruising victory.

Jordan Love missed a host of throws, and turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, his first game with two-plus giveaways since Week 10. The offense stalled repeatedly in the red zone. The defense couldn't pressure the QB and allowed the Giants to run through it late. And Keisean Nixon muffed a punt early in the third quarter that flipped the script in New York's favor. 

"You can look and nitpick each phase of the game," LaFleur said. "Special teams wasn't good enough. Offense wasn't good enough. Defense wasn't good enough. All three collectively, and when you're bad in all three phases, that's what happens. You lose the game."

If Giants undrafted sensation Tommy DeVito has proven anything, it's that the moment you underestimate an NFL team, they'll burn you. 

After more than a month of stellar, upward-trajectory play, Love struggled, reverting to early season issues that plagued an ineffective offense and couldn't find the range deep. 

"Not good enough," Love said of his play. "Obviously, not good enough to get the job done there at the end. Obviously two costly turnovers hurt us a lot. Just not good enough."

Despite getting outplayed, the Packers took the lead late following a Saquon Barkley fumble that Love turned into a TD to Malik Heath. But a defense that astonishingly couldn't pressure the QB gave up the game-winning field goal drive. 

The Packers blew a chance to put a game's distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC wild-card contenders. LaFleur's club remained in the No. 7 slot ahead of L.A. Seattle, Atlanta, and New Orleans, but their margin for error was shaved with a battle against the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers on tap this Sunday

"We better have a short memory," LaFleur said after the game. "You've got to learn from it and move on. We're on a short week now against a team in Tampa that is fighting for their playoff lives and the leaders of their division. So, we're going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight in order to come out on top."

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