*Game highlights if you can bare to watch them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uiEGZx9Wxs
After an impressive 8 game winning streak, the extraordinary play of the Green Bay Packers comes to an end in what can only be described as a blow out. Throughout the majority of this game, the Packers looked like the team that lost to the Tennessee Titans earlier in the season and not the offensive juggernauts we’d come to expect.
The Atlanta Falcons continued their high level of play from last week and put a beat down on the Packers secondary from the first snap. After an embarrassing first half, the Packers were forced to punt on their first drive of the second half. The Falcons responded with a 73-yard TD reception by Julio Jones which served to further demoralise the Packers and their fans (including me). Jones and Sanu just bullied Gunter and Randall all game long. The young cornerbacks just couldn’t seem to stay with them.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons pass rush outplayed the offensive line and succeeded in sacking Rodgers 2 times and had 7 total quarterback hits. Ra’Shede Hageman even managed to sack Rodgers with one hand, something I’ve never seen before. I think it’s safe to say it was a combination of the pass rush and some critical mistakes early that knocked the Packers offence out of rhythm and limited them to a total of 367 yards and forced 2 turnovers. Despite the big play potential of Aaron Rodgers, when you get down big and can’t stop a red hot offence, you’ve got very little chance.
All of the 21 points scored by the Packers all came in the second half which was essentially garbage time. However, there were some bright spots in the offence. Jordy Nelson showed up in this game with 6 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown, an impressive feat considering he was playing with several broken ribs. Rodgers said that he was “so proud” of Jordy just for making it out on the field. Jared Cook (7 catches for 78) and Randall Cobb (6 catches for 82 yards) also gave solid contributions for the Pack but this offence knew they had to be close to perfect to have a chance of winning this game. If this offence wants to continue it’s excellent play going forward, they need to resign Jared Cook! Thankfully it looks like Cook is keen to come back: “It would be good to come back and play in a familiar offense,” Cook said, “and learn even more from 12 (quarterback Aaron Rodgers).”
The defence for the Packers was even more disappointing than the offence, allowing 44 points and 493 total yards. The pass rush was pathetic, allowing Ryan all day to find his favourite receivers and the secondary did even more to help the Falcons by leaving receivers open and dropping several opportunities for interceptions. That being said considering the extreme talent of the Falcons offence and the injuries to this Packers team as a whole, nobody expected much more from them. I think Ted needs to sign some free agents this offseason otherwise I don’t think we’ll make this SuperBowl.
After the fumble by Ripkowski early in the 2nd quarter, I found myself thinking that if it wasn’t for an uncharacteristic missed field goal by Mason Crosby and a first career fumble for the Ripper, the game might be tied. If those two things had gone differently we might have gotten a more inspired performance from the Pack. I don’t know whether the outcome of the game would have been different but it would have definitely been a more enjoyable game to watch. (https://twitter.com/allthingspack87/status/823273381382516737)
After a physically and emotionally draining last second win against the darlings of the NFC last week, maybe the Packers just didn’t have enough left in the tank to keep defying expectations. All in all I have been very impressed with what the Packers have been able to pull off this season despite the injuries and I just hope we get to see what a healthy Packers team are capable of next season. Aaron Rodgers shares my positivity about this Packers team: “Really proud of these guys. We battled. Had our back against the wall for 8 weeks straight. Just came up a little short.” When you think about it, what a beat up Packers team has been able to do this season is really incredible. I’m sad but at least I’m not a Browns fan.
I will be aiming to post twice a week and hopefully my other posts will be much more upbeat than this one. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments and let me know what you’d like to see in future posts. Go Pack Go.