By Matthew Asher
Thanks to a no-show by the Falcons offense in the second half, the Packers were able to snap their own five-game winless streak, narrowly defeating Atlanta 22-21 in the frozen tundra of Green Bay. The temperature at Lambeau Field fluctuated between 19°F and 11°F throughout the game.
Atlanta’s defense gets an A
One of the constant criticisms of the Falcons this season has been their inexperienced defense, and their ability to give up the lead late in the game. This is one game you cannot blame them for the end result.
Only one of Green Bay’s touchdowns should count against the Falcons defense, the first Packers drive of the game. Green Bay was able to march down the field for an 18-play, 90-yard drive that took more than nine minutes of game time. For the rest of the game, Atlanta’s defense was in quarterback Matt Flynn’s face, recording four sacks, one interception and one fumble. Green Bay had to settle for three field goals, all of them from within the 40-yard line, including two from inside the red zone.
The final Packer touchdown of the game, the game-winning score, happened because Atlanta turned the ball over at their own 21-yard line. The Packers would score in four plays but were unable to convert the two-point attempt, meaning the Falcons defense kept their team in the game until the bitter end.
Not only did the Atlanta defense limit Green Bay scoring, but they were directly responsible for 14 of the team’s 21 points, forcing one turnover deep in Green Bay territory and the other being a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown by Sean Weatherspoon, the first of his career, in the closing seconds of the first half.
Atlanta’s offense in the second half gets a D
Green Bay held onto the ball for 33 minutes and 32 seconds. Three offensive drives were for more than 10 plays each. Atlanta simply couldn’t move the ball anytime they had a possession that wasn’t in the second quarter of the game.
The Falcons had three three-and-outs and their other three second-half possessions all ended in a turnover. Only one drive for Atlanta was for more than 50 yards. The second touchdown they scored in the game was thanks to a turnover at Green Bay’s 13-yard line.
Atlanta’s passing attack gets a D
Matt Ryan and company started out the game in a good groove. Ryan completed nine of his first 10 pass attempts, and then simply couldn’t complete a pass to save his life for the rest of the half, missing his next six straight throws.
Ryan finished the game completing 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards, the first time he’s thrown for more than 200 yards in Wisconsin as a pro. He also had two touchdowns, one interception and one fumble. Roddy White was the only Falcon to record more than three catches or 40 receiving yards in the game. He finished with eight receptions for 74 yards, but no touchdowns.
While Atlanta’s running attack wasn’t spectacular, it was a good effort, Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for 85 yards on 22 attempts and were able to keep the Falcons in the game until Ryan threw his interception late in the fourth quarter.
Now with double-digit losses this season, the focus simply becomes which high number draft pick the Falcons will get in 2014. They return home to take on the equally browbeaten Washington Redskins next Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EST.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.