Falling Short Down South: Why Green Bay Packers lost to Atlanta Falcons
By Kenn Korb
Missing On A 2-for-1
Following a quick TD drive from Green Bay which put them up 21-13 in the 2nd quarter, the Falcons came back with their own touchdown drive; after missing a two-point attempt to tie things up, they sat at what they probably figured would be a 21-19 deficit going into the half (and with only about 30 seconds to go in the half, who could blame them?).
This ended up giving Green Bay a potential two-for-one opportunity. For those who don’t know, what I mean by that is a team is given a chance to make the final score prior to the half ending while also receiving the 3rd quarter kickoff. Chances like this don’t happen too much, and when teams can capitalize it tends to provide a seismic shift in their odds for winning the game.
Green Bay had to put in some quick work for the first part of this, but despite the little time left on the clock Rodgers drove the team down into field goal range in just three plays for a Mason Crosby field goal and a 24-19 lead at half.
From here, the opportunity to make the two-for-one happen seemed pretty high; on their 5 first-half drives, 4 of them went for scores — 3 of which were TDs — so it seemed they would continue to find success against an underwhelming Falcons defense.
Green Bay got out past midfield on the drive, but things stalled out on an Atlanta sack on 3rd down; from there they had to punt. Atlanta would go on to score another TD to steal away the lead there, which eventually helped them in the final margin.
Had Green Bay scored anything on that starting drive of the half, they could have been up 27-19 or even 31-19 before the Falcons ever got the ball back. In the former case, Atlanta would have needed a two-point conversion to tie things up on their following TD (something they had already failed at doing once this game); the latter, a conversion would also be needed just to get the margin down to a field goal instead of five points.
Let’s say the four drives following that Packers drive after the half basically go the same for both teams (ATL TD, GB Punt, ATL Punt, GB TD). Here are some of the possible outcomes we are looking at with Atlanta for what was their final drive:
- 34-25 (Green Bay gets FG on 1st drive, Atlanta goes for two and misses on their following TD, Green Bay gets PAT after their next TD)
- 34-27 (Green Bay gets FG, Atlanta goes for two and makes it, Green Bay makes TD + PAT)
- 38-25 (Green Bay gets TD + PAT, Atlanta goes for two but misses, Green Bay makes TD + PAT)
- 38-27 (Green Bay gets TD + PAT, Atlanta makes 2 pt conversion, Green Bay makes TD + PAT)
In all of those possibilities, only one scenario would have left Atlanta needing just a single score to even tie the game; the rest would require Atlanta to need a second score following what ended up being their final drive.
While they likely would have played with more of an urgency in that case, it isn’t as if that was a long drive (with under four minutes left following the Packers’ final TD, they used up 3:27 of the remaining clock), so they likely wouldn’t have much time remaining even if they managed a score and then recovered an onside kick (only 5 of 29 onside kick attempts have been recovered by the kicking team so far this year).
Unfortunately for Green Bay, their offense bogged down at the wrong time and couldn’t take advantage of the fortuitous situation, and with the way the script was written from there it was key in the difference between what could have been (an easier win than the score would have suggested) and the actual outcome (a hard-fought loss in the final minute).