10

October

Packers vs. Falcons: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 25-14 Win in Atlanta

Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Green Bay Packers used 25 unanswered points, including touchdown receptions from receivers James Jones and Greg Jennings, to stun the hosting Atlanta Falcons, 25-14, and improve their record to 5-0 in 2011 with an 11th straight win overall.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Bouncing back

There simply aren’t many teams in the NFL that could have rebounded the way the Packers did after falling behind 14-0. The Falcons had steamrolled them on both sides of the ball through the first quarter, amassing 125 yards and holding the ball for over 10 minutes. A second 10-play drive led to another Falcons’ touchdown following Ryan Grant’s first fumble in over 300 touches. And after seeing your starting left tackle hobble off the field while your starting right tackle is on the sidelines in street clothes, other teams might have just packed it in on the road. But the Packers slowly got their offense back on track. Despite settling for two field goals in the first half, ┬áit looked as if the offense gained confidence marching down the field on those two possessions.

The Packers defense held serve, and going into the half down just 14-6 was a huge boost after such a disastrous start. Remember, Sunday night was the first time the Packers had been down by 14 or more points in a game since 2009. They faced that adversity well against the Falcons, which is always something Mike McCarthy stresses. By overcoming all those potential road blocks, the Packers’ 25-14 win was undoubtedly the team’s most impressive of the 2011 season.

2. Defensive response

Enough can’t be said about how the defense played in the second half, and really, on each possession following the Falcons’ first two touchdowns. Atlanta made it looked frustratingly easy in racking up 140 yards and two scores in the first half, but the Packers clamped down after that. The Falcons had just 111 total yards during the final 42 or so minutes of the game. On Atlanta’s six possessions after their second touchdown, they gained just 14 yards and punted five times (one drive was a kneel down before the half). That’s an incredible turnaround and it saved the game for the Packers. The Falcons did threaten on their final two drives, but each ended with a Matt Ryan interception.