The game started off fast and furious for both sides, but only one found themselves on the scoreboard through three drives.
Atlanta scored 10 points in their first two drives, while Green Bay saw Mason Crosby push a 41-yard field goal wide right after a promising opening drive fizzled.
The second drive for Green Bay felt extremely important for them to convert into points, lest they get blown out in a hurry.
Everything started out about as well as the Packers could have hoped. In six plays, Green Bay moved the ball 52 yards; among those plays, there were gains of 17 and 22 yards to Randall Cobb, showcasing the dangerous ability of Aaron Rodgers and his receiver to pick apart open spaces in the process. A score felt inevitable.
Too bad that seventh play decided to take a drastically different turn.
On this play, Rodgers handed the ball off to his bruising fullback Aaron Ripkowski.
The second-year player hadn’t been a high-usage player, but when he’d been given opportunities this year he constantly steamrolled through the opposition for tough yardage.
Those runs seemed to get more impressive each week, and this one began as one which could’ve been his best one yet.
Ripkowski blasted forward on the handoff, and even with multiple Atlanta defenders grabbing him he continued plowing forward with no stopping in sight. If things continued as they appeared to be going, a touchdown was just seconds away.
Except, while Ripkowski continued staying on his feet and rumbling forward, Jalen Collins of the Falcons decided to do something different.
Rather than become just another body being dragged forward, he goes directly for the ball; reaching in, he rips it away.
From there, all Ripkowski can do is flail his now-empty arms at the ball as it bounces away. Collins ends up picking the ball up as well, ending up with an eventual touchback to both shut down Green Bay’s scoring opportunity and give his team the ball yet again.
This was the turning point, no question about it.
Had Ripkowski held on and Green Bay scored here, they would’ve been down just 10-7, and this game looks drastically different – especially with the Packers getting the ball back after the half to make up for the failed first drive.
With the turnover here though, the team found itself down 17-0 before Rodgers got another chance with the ball; at that point, even the best case scenario sees their gameplan noticeably altered and their odds at winning drastically damaged – particularly with the level Atlanta’s offense had already shown themselves capable of reaching through just three offensive drives.