Green Bay Packers fall short in shootout to Atlanta Falcons
By Brad Miller
The Green Bay Packers went into Atlanta with a hospital of players that would NOT be in the lineup to help the Packers grab a coveted inter conference win.
Randall Cobb, out. Jared Cook, out. Shields, Rollins, Randall all out. Surely that would be it. Nope. Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, out. Clay Matthews, you guessed it, out. To top it off let’s take out WR/RB Ty Montgomery out for good measure.
It is hard enough to win in the NFL with a fairly healthy team. But this is getting ridiculous.
Mike McCarthy’s motto of next man up is starting to sound like a broken record.
Yet, the Green Bay Packers had a game to play and they were not going to get any sympathy from the Falcon faithful.
All of that being said, the healthy Packers came to play and that is what they did. The Green Bay played one of their best games of the year against Julio Jones and a hot Atlanta offense. It just wasn’t enough.
The game was a see-saw affair form start to finish with Atlanta taking the opening kickoff down the field and settling for a Matt Bryant field goal to make it 3-0.
The Packers took their first drive down the field as well and ended with a 5 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to his old reliable WR Jordy Nelson. One of the big plays of the drive was a smooth 58 yard pass to a streaking Nelson as he got down to the Atlanta 8 yard line. 7-3 Packers. It was good to see Jordy getting into the offense right from the get-go.
Atlanta wasted no time taking the lead back all capped off by the only pass play the Packers really got beat on all game. The Falcon lead the NFL with pass play over 20 yards this year. Falcon’s QB Matt Ryan went over the top of the Packer defense for a 47-yard pass play to wide out Taylor Gabriel over Packer DB Demetri Goodson to put them back in the lead 10-7.
All Pro QB Aaron Rodgers had his mojo back this week. Their second drive proved that. He looked like the Rodgers of old. Quick, smart, sharp passes spread around to numerous receivers. Passes to Nelson, Jeff Jaris, last week’s hero Davante Adams, rookie Trevor Davis, just picked up RB Knile Davis and practice squad pick up Geronimo Allison. Allison ends up breaking free in the end zone to collect his first NFL touchdown to cap off their second touchdown of the day. 14-10 Pack.
The Falcon got the ball back and with the help of a questionable pass interference call on Gunter against All Pro WR Julio Jones they come away with a 40 yard FG. 14-13 Packers.
Both teams exchanged punts to stop the scoring streak for the game. The only difference was that Packer punt returner Trevor Davis capitalized on his punt. He weaved through the Falcon punt return team to end up with great field position at the Atlanta 15 yard line. Davis got rewarded for his efforts by catching a 5 yard touchdown from a scrambling Rodgers. Packers up 21-13.
QB Matt Ryan orchestrated a scoring drive of his own with just 27 seconds left before half when RB Devonta Freeman caught a 5 yard touchdown pass. The Falcons went for 2 to try to tie up the scored before the half but the Packers stripped Ryan of the ball. Packers 21-19.
Final half time score? Nope!
Aaron Rodgers takes the first Packer play and runs for 22 yards to take the ball close to midfield with 17 seconds left before half. Next play Rodgers hit Nelson for a bobbling 22 yard pass catch to take the ball to the 30 yard line of Atlanta with 8 seconds left. That is well within the range of Packer kicker Mason Crosby but the Packers got closer on the heels of a 9 yard carry by FB Aaron Ripkowski and a late hit penalty on the Falcons. Mason got a chip shot 29 yard FG and Packer took a 24-19 lead into half.
Packers got the ball at the beginning of the second half and as fast and thrilling the first half was the third quarter was quiet until the Falcons got their 3rd TD of the game when Devonta Freeman scores on a 1 yard scamper to the end zone to give Atlanta back the lead. 26-24 Falcons.
The teams exchanged their possessions to juggle the field position battle.
Packers now get the ball back and they mixed up a little run (mainly Rodgers and Ripkowski), play action, and some short passes to head down the field. The drive started at the Packer 15 after a Kentrell Brice penalty which would have given the Packers a start on the Packer 42 yard line.
Aaron Rodgers used his keen eye on a third down play that gave them a first down when Atlanta LB Brooks Reed was slow to get to the sideline. Rodgers gets one of these calls almost every game. Rodgers runs the play where WR Nelson caught the ball and got passed the first down marker but ran backwards and ended up a yard short of the first down.
With the new set of downs the Packers finish the drive with a Jeff Janis 7 yard TD pass. The Packers went for 2 and got it when Aaron Rodgers called his own number and ran the attempt in untouched. Packers retake the lead 32-26
With a little over 3 minutes left the Falcons passed their way from their own 25 yard line on the shoulders of Matt Ryan and WR Mohamed Sanu. Sanu broke the hearts of the Packers and their faithful when he snagged a high throw from Ryan in the end zone for the game winning score. Bryant unties the game with the point after attempt. Falcons 33- Packers 32. Final
Considering the Packers were down so many key contributors gone for the game they really put forth their best effort to make this a highly entertaining football game.
The Packers needed to limit Julio Jones as much as possible and they did that. This gave the Packers a chance to win this game. Packer Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers had a great game plan to slow down Jones. Jones ended up with 3 catches for only 29 yards.
The Packers had their chances but fell a little short.