Green Bay Packers survive shootout with Atlanta Falcons, 43-37
The Green Bay Packers jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and then sat back and watched Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan play catch with Julio Jones in the second half, but eventually holding on to 43-37 victory.
It was Aaron Rodgers‘ 100th game, it was Monday Night Football at the National Football League’s shrine, Lambeau Field; it was snowing.
Everything seemed to point toward the Packers winning and winning big.
It started that way, but didn’t end that way.
Aaron Rodgers scrambles for a first down against Atlanta Falcons linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi (94) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Ryan was on fire with Jones in the second half and before Jones went out of the game in the fourth quarter with a hip injury he had shredded the Packers secondary for 11 catches, 259 yards and a touchdown. He averaged an incredible 23.5 yards per catch.
But despite those astronomical statistics, the Falcons couldn’t match Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
While the Falcons tallied 465 yards of offense, the Packers had 502 of their own, 327 through the air and 179 on the ground. And while the Packers pass defense, usually its strength, was shredded tonight, the run defense was stout, giving up just 91 yards. Ironically, it’s been the run defense that has been torched throughout the season.
Rodgers finished the night with 24-for-36 and three touchdowns; Ryan was 24-of-39 for 375 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
Rodgers, who with tonight’s win, now has a record of 68-32 after 100 games – the exact same record that Brett Favre had in his first 100.
Eddie Lacy and James Starks had excellent nights as they shared the backfield nearly evenly.
Starks led the team in rushing with 10 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, but Lacy was right behind him.
Lacy was 13-for-73 yards and a touchdown. Lacy also caught a TD pass from Rodgers.
So, the Packers offense once again bailed out the defense, but that’s OK. That’s what teams and teammates do. When one part of the squad fails, another will pick up the slack.
— Paul Imig (@Paulimig) December 9, 2014
Once again, the Packers win … they won a bit differently, but that’s what championship teams do. They win any way they can. That’s what the Packers did once again tonight.
In an on-field interview after the game, Rodgers went out of his way to compliment his offensive line and the team’s coaching. He also called out the receiving corps, especially Jordy Nelson, who once again was the focus of the game’s biggest play when he caught a 60-yard bomb from Rodgers in the fourth quarter.
Randall Cobb carries the football as wide receiver Jordy Nelson grabs his arm during warmups prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Nelson also quietly led the Packers in receiving, catching eight passes for a solid 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Randall Cobb had just four receptions, but averaged 14.5 yards per-catch.
Though the Falcons outscored the Packers in the second half, 30-12, it still wasn’t enough to keep up with the high-octane Packers.
With the win, the Packers get their tenth win of the season, tying them for the NFC’s best record with the Arizona Cardinals. It also keeps them a game up on the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North.
The Packers travel to Buffalo next weekend to take on the Bills, who are tied for second place in the AFC East Division with a 7-6 record.