Green Bay Packers embarrassed, exposed by Atlanta Falcons in championship
The Green Bay Packers couldn’t do much right in a 44-21 NFC Championship Game loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 22.
It was one of the worst defeats in a championship game in NFL history.
To say the Packers were embarrassed, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is a gross understatement.
One thing is for certain – the Atlanta Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl and the Green Bay Packers are headed toward a long offseason with many questions and holes to fill.
Following the game, head coach Mike McCarthy stood by his troops, saying, “I’m proud of my guys. We ran out of gas in some spots … and this game got away from us.”
Yes, it got away from Green Bay early and often.
It was a missed field goal and fumble inside the five yard line early in the game that set the tone for this one.
Everyone expected a shootout between Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, but it was Ryan doing most of the shooting.
Ryan threw for 392 yards – 180 of them going to Julio Jones.
Rodgers threw for 268 of his own.
The Packers had 99 rushing yards, while holding the Falcons to just 101.
But those deceiving statistics are not indicative of this game controlled from start to finish by the Falcons.
The only good thing for the Packers on the day was that they won the coin toss, but made the mistake of deferring to the Falcons, who took the opening drive down the field for a touchdown and a lead they would never relinquish.
Green Bay started well, but their first drive stalled and they had to settle for a field goal attempt – which was subsequently missed by Mason Crosby.
Holding Atlanta to a field goal on their next drive, Green Bay came right back and were driving toward the end zone when fullback Aaron Ripkowski lost a fumble inside the five yard line.
Packers fans could have shut the television off at that point because not much good occurred following that loss of possession.
The Packers’ defense got only one stop against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Atlanta scored easily and at will against Green Bay’s porous defensive unit.
It was nothing short of embarrassing for Green Bay.
Another thing is for certain for Green Bay – the magic ran out today.
Consider the injuries, the fumbles, the penalties, the missed tackles, a missed field goal, a delay of game on a kickoff and a facemask penalty on Aaron Rodgers and it’s pretty clear Green Bay wasn’t prepared for this stage.
Couple that with the fact that Packers receivers had multiple drops and a nonexistent running game and it all adds up to a humiliating defeat.
Packers fans will probably wonder what was worse – imploding against the Seahawks in 2014 or getting blown out by the Falcons today.
For McCarthy, he didn’t want to focus on the poor performance by his team; he did say that he was disappointed, but happy with what the Packers were able to overcome this season.
“I’m proud of the things we overcame this year. This is a special group. We were able to dig out of a hole … we had a great win last week, but we couldn’t get up to where needed to be to compete with [the Falcons] today.”
That said, this is a team that went into this championship running on fumes, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Yes, you can look at the injuries, but in the NFL, that’s just an excuse. When a team makes it all the way to the conference championship, one expects a better performance.
Some of it was personnel; some of it was scheme.
However, if the Packers expect to get back to the Super Bowl sometime before Aaron Rodgers retires, they are going to have to improve – on both sides of the ball – but especially with the defense.
Clearly, the eight defensive draft picks Green Bay has selected over the course of the past two years have not panned out.
So the season ends on a particularly low point for this edition of the Green Bay Packers. Losing in the championship game is one thing; getting blown out is another.
Here’s to 2017.