With a Matt Flynn two-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless at the 12-minute mark of the game, the Green Bay Packers (6-6-1hung on for a hard-fought 22-21 win over the 3-10 Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field – a huge win for the Packers who crept within one-half game of the Detroit Lions in the NFC North standings … and with the probability that Aaron Rodgers could be back on the field for the final three games of the season, Packers Nation rejoiced.
The Packers got a gutsy performance from Flynn, who was coming off of one of the worst performances ever. He finished the day 24/32 for 253 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. In addition, it was running back Eddie Lacy‘s determined performance (20 rushes for 65 yards and 1 touchdown) that helped the Packers control the ball for much of the game and come away with the win.
Matt Flynn said after the game, “This wasn’t an offensive win or a defensive win or a special teams win — this was a complete team win.”
And head coach Mike McCarthy seemed pleased with the win.
Here’s what he had to say: “A character win. I like our opportunity in Dallas. It’s great the Lions lost.”
Lacy started the game with a bang, picking up 49 yards of a 90-yard Packers drive. He capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 7-0 lead. The two teams battled through the rest of the first quarter without a score, but Atlanta then scored two touchdowns within two minutes. The first came on a 36-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Drew Davis, who beat safety Morgan Burnett over the middle to tie the game at 7-7.
Atlanta then sacked Matt Flynn on Green Bay’s first play from scrimmage and recovered inside the Packers’ 20. Four plays later, Ryan hit tight end Tony Gonzalez on a two-yard touchdown to give Atlanta a 14-7 lead.
Green Bay then went on an 11-play, 3:49 drive that stalled inside the Falcons’ 20. Mason Crosby kicked a 40-yard field goal to cut the Packers’ deficit to 14-10.
Then all hell broke loose.
Going back and forth the rest of the second quarter, the Packers were driving the ball inside of 2 minutes when a pass attempt to John Kuhn on third down was first tipped, then kicked into the air before being intercepted by Sean Witherspoon, who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to give Atlanta a 21-10 lead at the half.
The boo-birds came out as the Packers tried to move the ball with just seconds remaining in the first half and ended it with a run left by Eddie Lacy where he severely twisted his ankle and limped off the field … maybe at that point, the Packers should have kneeled on it and gotten into the locker room without any more damage.
Mike McCarthy commented about the end of the first half and booing by the fans … “I told them it’s lonely being a warrior sometimes.”
As it turned out, Lacy got his ankle taped and came back out to slug through the final half with his teammates.
With Lacy and the Packers offense dominating for the most part, their side of the ball in the second half, the Packers defense also came alive, led by players in the unlikeliest places … namely Jarrett Bush and defensive lineman Johnny Jolly.
The Packers stuffed the Falcons’ running game the final 30 minutes, allowing 19 yards on 10 carries. In addition, they gave up just 131 total yards and no points.
The Packers drove the ball consistently, but again couldn’t finish those drives with touchdowns in the third quarter. They settled for two Mason Crosby field goals – one from 33 yards at the 9:06 mark, and the second from 25 yards with 45 seconds in the third quarter.
The Packers defense again came alive when most-needed throughout the fourth quarter as Green Bay kept Matt Ryan and co. in check – capping off the game with an interception by Jarrett Bush when the Falcons were attempting to drive the ball to get into position for a game-winning field goal.
With the win, the Packers climb to within one-half game of the Lions. The Chicago Bears will play the Dallas Cowboys Monday night.
Complete scoring and statistics below are courtesy of SI.com
Green Bay 7-0
Green Bay 22-21
Green Bay defense