In a back and forth shootout, the Packers fell to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon, 33-32. Aaron Rodgers continued his resurgence, throwing for four touchdowns to four different receivers while also leading the team in rushing but the injury ravaged defense couldn’t finish the game out.
The Falcons got the ball first, driving down before the shorthanded Packer defense stopped the bending, holding to top ranked offense in the NFL to a Matt Bryant field goal. Immediately following, the Packers went 75 yards in six plays, boosted by a 58-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, before finishing the drive off with a Nelson 5-yard touchdown catch.
But Atlanta would answer with a 47-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel when the Packers safeties were late rotating over the top. The Packers would continue to roll on offense in the first half, scoring on a four-yard strike to Geronimo Allison, the rookie’s first career catch, and the first touchdown for Trevor Davis later on in the half. Atlanta would get another field goal from Bryant and also a swing pass to Devonta Freeman from five yards out with 27 seconds left. But Rodgers would drive the team down to give Mason Crosby a chance, and the kicker drilled a 29-yard field goal to end the half.
The third quarter was significantly quieter as the punters actually saw the field for something other than a hold, the only score coming on a 1-yard run by Freeman on third down. After Atlanta’s long touchdown drive in the third quarter, the Packers responded with a 13-play, 8 minute 33 second drive that culminated with a Jeff Janis touchdown reception. The following two-point conversion gave the Packers a six-point lead with four minutes left.
But Atlanta still had life. Matt Ryan looked to Mohamed Sanu early and often, targeting him over and over against Demetri Goodson, before finding him in the seam for an 11-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left. With a last grasp, Rodgers wasn’t able to work his magic, failing to convert on fourth down to end the game.
With the scratches of Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb with illness and injury respectively, Rodgers had to rely on some young players like Davis, Allison, and Janis. He responded by completing 28 of 38 passes for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also carrying the ball for 60 yards on six carries.
The two running backs not injured, Don Jackson and Knile Davis, ran for a combined 14 yards on 7 carries while Aaron Ripkowski ran for 34 yards.
Jordy Nelson showed some signs of recovery with his big catch. He ended up with four receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Davante Adams had another high volume game with 12 catches for 74 yards, with Janis catching 4 for 30 yards and a score. Trevor Davis caught 3 balls and Allison had 2 catches. No tight end caught a pass in the game.
Defensively, not having Clay Matthews really hurt, as did the absence of Damarious Randall, Quentin Rollins, and Sam Shields. With the exception of a drive in the late third quarter, the Packers couldn’t get much pressure on Matt Ryan. Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers would get back to back sacks but that was it. Morgan Burnett led the way with 9 tackles, tied with Jake Ryan. LaDarius Gunter deserves a lot of praise for his effort on Julio Jones, holding the NFL’s leading receiver to 3 catches for 29 yards, and none in the second half.
Surprisingly, the yardage totals weren’t as lofty as a game like this would imply. The Packers racked up 331 yard with Atlanta with 367. Green Bay also won time of possession with 31 minutes. But each team was bitten with costly penalties, 7 for the Falcons and 6 for the Packers.
Now at 4-3, the Packers now head back to Lambeau to take on the Colts next Sunday, November 6, at 3:25.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.