The Green Bay Packers did not come out to play Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, but they did find a way to win the game 25-14.
The game was a cliche tale of two halves for both the Packers and the Falcons. The Falcons offense came out early and dominated the Packers front seven pounding the ball with running back Michael Turner and controlling the tempo of the game with their no huddle offense. Though the Falcons offense was able to put up 14 points in their first few drives it looked to be more of what the Packers were not doing in the game rather then what the Falcons were doing. While the Falcons came out and executed on offense, the Packers defense once again looked suspect.
With the defense not performing the Packers would need the offense to step up, but unfortunately in the first half it was not the case. The Packers found ways to stop themselves, like stupid penalties and mistakes; which included a fumble by running back Ryan Grant on the first possession of the game. The fumble stalled a drive which looked to be of promise for the Pack.
The offense may have started off slow, but it was not because of the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The leader of the Pack was spot on again through the whole game and ended with a quarterback rating of 117. If his wide receivers would have caught a few more passes which they should have it could have been even higher as he went 26-39 for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers continues to prove he is the MVP of the NFL early in the season.
Rodgers and the offense came out in the second half and finally got on a roll thanks to the improved play of the defense. In the first half the defense let the Falcons run the ball and control the tempo, keeping Rodgers and company off of the field. The part about the second half which sticks out is the change in line play for the Packers offensively and defensively.
Offensively the Packers were forced to start tackle Marshall Newhouse, because of the injury to tackle Brian Bulaga. Then add in tackle Chad Clifton going down in the first half, which forced in rookie Derek Sherrod to play right tackle and moved Newhouse to left. Right after the injury it was looking quite grim for the Packers as the offensive line was struggling, but after half time the Packers made adjustments and the protection for Rodgers was far better.
Also lets not forget about the critical 56 yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby, which was a gutsy call by Packers Mike McCarthy, because if he misses the kick the Falcons get excellent field position while being down 6-14. If the kick is no good, the outcome of the game could have been completely different.
The defense also made adjustments as defensive coordinator Dom Capers went to more bump-n-run coverage outside and dialed up different blitzes to help make quarterback Matt Ryan look uncomfortable the whole second half. Once again outside linebacker Clay Matthews III did not record a sack in the game, but was dominate. He forced a number of hurries, including one which forced Ryan into throwing an interception to safety Charlie Peprah, who is filling in for the rest of the season with safety Nick Collins being out due to a neck injury.
The Packers once again showed what great teams do in game like this, they find a way to win. While they played poorly in the first half and the Falcons took advantage, the Pack battled back to win. If this game showed the nation anything it was that the only way the Packers can be beat, it’s by themselves. They had penalties, dropped passes and gave the Falcons the ball in the first half, but adjusted in the second to come away with the win. The scary part, or the best part if you’re a Packers fan, is they are undefeated at 5-0, and they can still get better.
About the Author
Written by Noah Hanstedt
Born and raised in the small town of Neenah, WI. Grew up watching Green Bay Packers football with my late father. Been writing about sports for 5 years now and hope to continue becoming a stronger writer and an even better man.