By Matthew Asher
The good news about a heart-breaking 37-43 loss? At least the team that trails you in the divisional rankings also lost this week. The Atlanta Falcons (5-8) have just assured the league that whoever wins the NFC South this season will not have a winning record. Despite a 20-point fourth quarter, the Falcons couldn’t keep up with the Green Bay Packers, who used a 24-point second quarter effort to make it near impossible for Atlanta to mount a successful comeback.
Julio Jones Gets an A+
If it wasn’t for Jones, the idea of a comeback would have been ridiculous. Jones caught 11 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown. To put this in perspective, Roddy White was second on the team this game and he finished with just three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Jones was responsible for 69 percent of Ryan’s 375 passing yards and had an incredible 79-yard grab on the first play of the 3rd quarter, which set up Atlanta’s first of four touchdowns in the second half.
Matt Ryan Gets an A-
Ryan’s stat lines were impressive: He went 24-39 for 375 yards, four touchdowns (all to different receivers) and one costly interception. He also ran twice for 23 yards, giving him 398 all-purpose yards for the game. He has to settle for an A- because the Falcons lost the game, but he did keep the Dirty Birds in the game.
Atlanta’s Defense gets a D
As good as Atlanta’s offense was, especially in the second half, their defense had a lot of issues. The Falcons gave up 502 yards of total offense, forced no turnovers and let the Packers go 7-12 on third-down conversions (58 percent). Aaron Rodgers threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Eight of Rodgers’ passes went to Jordy Nelson, who picked up 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns including a 60-yard TD grab in the fourth quarter.
The run defense had a lot of issues. James Starks and Eddie Lacy combined for 23 rushes, 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. The back breaker was in the final two minutes when Starks ran for a 41-yard play to Atlanta’s six-yard line and effectively ended the game. Lacy caught 5 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown while Starks added 26 yards on 2 receptions. In total, the running backs combined for 207 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
Atlanta in the 2nd Quarter gets an F
As mentioned earlier, Green Bay put up 24 points in the second quarter while Atlanta scored zero. The Packers ran 25 plays, gained 131 yards and scored on each of their four possessions. Atlanta also had four possessions in the quarter, but couldn’t do anything with them. Atlanta ran just 14 plays, gained 89 yards, punted twice, threw an interception and had a 53-yard field goal blocked to close out the half.
Atlanta will travel home this week to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers for their final non-conference game of the regular season. Kickoff from the Georgia Dome is scheduled for 1 pm ET. #RiseUp
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
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.