The Atlanta Falcons outlasted the Green Bay Packers at home to claim a 33-32 victory after a last minute touchdown pass from Matt Ryan.
A fast start at the Georgia Dome
The offense's were firing from the get go in this one, as Atlanta recieved the football first. Thanks to a couple of medium length pass completions from Ryan to Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons marched into Green Bay territory pretty quickly, but were then faced with a 4th and 1. Atlanta coach, Dan Quinn decided to go for it though and thanks to a toss play for Devonta Freeman, the Falcons picked up the first down.
However, the depleted Green Bay defence, with the likes of Sam Shields and Clay Matthews missing through injury, held firm and restricted Atlanta to a 36 yard Matt Bryant field goal.
In contrast, the Packers first drive was a spectacular and lighting fast one in order to score the first touchdown of the game. Just a couple of plays in and Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers stood in the pocket and launched one down the right side of the field for Jordy Nelson, who made a great catch and got down to the Atlanta five yard line. Green Bay duely converted their redzone chance into a score, as Rodgers made the five yard conncection with Nelson.
Then Matt Ryan went to Rodgers, whatever you can do I can as well, as Matty Ice delivered a a 47 yard touchdown sling straight down the middle of the field for Taylor Gabriel, who made a fantastic catch which was well contested. This explosive offence from both teams occured all within the opening 11 minutes of the first quarter.
Packers take command going into half
Green Bay's offensive assault continued into the second quarter and even though, it was all coming from Rodgers eithier with his arm or his legs, the Falcons couldn't deal with it. It was an unlikely name who gave Green Bay the lead back, Geronimo Allison caught his first career reception for five yards and his first NFL toucdown after Rodgers stepped out the pocket.
The Falcons kept themselves in touch though, as Bryant added another field goal, this time from 40 yards out, as the Packers played good containment defence to keep Atlanta out of the redzone. Then after a bit of defence for once, the special teams got things going again for Green Bay.
Another lower depth chart reciever because of injuries, Austin Davis was given an oppurtunity and he sure took it with a 55 yard punt return to give the Packers automatic redzone field position at the 15 yard line of Atlanta. Then just like Nelson earlier, Davis backed up his big play with a touchdown, as he caught a nine yarder from Rodger's, the quarterback's third TD throw of the first half.
Ryan and the Falcons refused to go away and after a drive running the no huddle offense, Atlanta moved into the red zone with Julio Jones getting more involved. It was running back, Freeman who finsihed off the drive though, with a four yard touchdown catch on a screen play to get Atlanta within two in the final minute of the first half.
Although, Atlanta should have known that even 27 seconds is enough for Rodgers to make something happen and with two timeouts, he did. Rodgers was first allowed to scamper for 25 yards and put Green Bay in Atlanta territory, before a personal foul penalty had the Packers in the redzone and allowed Mason Crosby to kick a 29 yard field goal and give his team a 24-19 lead at half-time.
Things calm down in the second half
The half-time break was clearly what both defence's needed, as they came out reenergised in the third quarter and more on their game's. A running game had been non existent from both teams, but on the one scoring drive of the third quarter, the Falcons finally found some joy on the ground and it was a team effort.
A big 25 yard run from Terron Ward and a consistent few runs from starter Freeman allowed another redzone chance for Atlanta. It would be Freeman who finished off the drive on a third and goal, two yard touchdown run when Mike McCarthy's Packers clearly weren't expecting the running play call.
Atlanta wins it at the death
The fourth quarter was an understandbly tense one to play in and offensive oppurtunities continued to be few and far between. The Packers would again take the lead though, at the mid point of the final quarter. Rodgers continued to make plays with both his arm and legs, as he went over 60 yards rushing in the final quarter for a career high.
It was this willingness to run, which gave them a fourth redzone chance and the Packers kept up the 100% success rate, as Jeff Janas caught the four yard touchdown pass and Rodgers then ran in a two point conversion on a read option, to give Green Bay a two point lead with about six minutes to go.
Matty Ice would live up to his nickname as he methodically drove Atlanta down the field. The clock managment was the real key to this drive, as the Falcons got down to the redzone quickly with Ryan dishing the ball out all over. Ryan then took his time in the redzone, two minute drill before delivering the killer pass to Sanu who got the feet in at the back of the endzone, straight down the middle.
Rodgers would get 31 seconds and two timeouts, with only a field goal required though. However, for the first time Atlanta's defence had Rodgers figured out and after a seven yard pass to Janas, he threw three straight incompletions as the clock wound down and Atlanta forced the turnover on downs for the win.