The Green Bay Packers entered week 14 at 5-6-1, with their playoff chances hinging on a win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. They got that desperately-needed win at home today, riding a gutsy effort by Eddie Lacy and Matt Flynn and the defense's best performance in weeks to their first victory since October by the slimmest of margins, as the final score was 22-21.
On the opening drive, the Falcons were forced to punt after driving the ball into Packers territory. After the punt, the Packers took the ball on offense for the first time from their own 10-yard line. On the opening drive, Eddie Lacy took several carries and Matt Flynn made several good throws, including hitting Andrew Quarless and James Jones on key third downs. Lacy eventually hit the circle button and spun across the goal line for the game's first points, giving the Packers a 7-0 lead. The drive took 18 plays and ate up 9:07 of clock.
The Falcons struck back on the next drive, starting with a 22-yard run by Steven Jackson. At the Packers' 36, Matt Ryan found Drew Davis over the middle. Davis had beaten Morgan Burnett in coverage, and he made the catch and shook off an M.D. Jennings tackle attempt to find his way into the end zone to tie the game.
Flynn and the Packers gave the Falcons great field position on the next play from scrimmage. The Packers' QB didn't see safety William Moore blitzing off the left side of the line, and when play-action prevented Eddie Lacy from blocking Moore, he sacked Flynn and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Atlanta. A few plays later, Ryan found Tony Gonzalez wide open in the end zone off play action and the Falcons had a 14-7 lead.
The Packers got some points back, though, as Jordy Nelson made two big plays - one down the middle and one up the left sideline. Quarless got into the action again on the drive, and Lacy picked up a key first down to get the Packers into field goal range. However, they couldn't get into the end zone and settled for a 40-yard field goal from Mason Crosby to make the score 14-10.
The defense forced a punt, thanks to pressure from Nick Perry on Ryan, and got the ball back with just over two minutes left. Jarrett Boykin and Brandon Bostick made first down catches and Flynn ran for a first down on third and seven, but the offense looked a bit disjointed in the no-huddle as the Packers apparently wanted to run all the time off the clock instead of taking any timeouts. Flynn's next pass was tipped by John Kuhn, kicked up in the air off a Falcon's foot, and was intercepted by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who rumbled 71 yards for a momentum-sapping touchdown to make the score 21-10 Falcons just before halftime.
The Packers received the second half kickoff, but were forced to punt. Thankfully, the defense forced a three-and-out. Flynn hit Jordy Nelson deep up the right hash for a 46-yard gain on the next drive, but the Packers had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Crosby to cut the lead to 21-13.
Another three and out by the Falcons gave the Packers the ball at their own 25, but Flynn took a sack on first down. He found Quarless again for a big gain over the middle, and got some help from Lacy, who picked up some tough yards and first downs. Quarless and Boykin each made another big catch on the drive, but Flynn overthrew Brandon Bostick in the end zone and the Packers were held to another field goal, this time from 25 yards, and it was a 21-16 game.
The Packers would get the lead back early in the fourth quarter, however. Mike Neal forced a fumble on Matt Ryan, and Johnny Jolly recovered, giving the Packers offense the ball at the Falcons' 21. After passes to Nelson and two runs by Lacy, Flynn found Quarless on a perfect back-shoulder throw in the end zone to give Green Bay the lead once again, this time at 22-21. A two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Packers clung to a one-point lead.
The Falcons would drive into Packer territory again, but Matt Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal just short. The Packers went three-and-out themselves, though, and Atlanta once again drove to the Packers' 40. On fourth down and 5, Jarrett Bush was matched up in coverage on Tony Gonzalez and between a combination of Bush's effort and a slippery ball, the legendary tight end couldn't haul in a pass from Ryan and the Packers took over.
After running the clock back down to 44 seconds, the Packers pinned the Falcons at the 9 with a punt. For the final time, Ryan picked up big yardage, this time with passes to Jacquizz Rodgers and Roddy White, but he forced a pass with 10 seconds left that was intercepted by Jarrett Bush to seal the game.
After the game concluded and the Packers moved to 6-6-1, the Detroit Lions lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the snow, giving the Packers still more life as they try to make a return to the playoffs. Detroit now sits a half-game ahead of Green Bay at 7-6.
Oh, and also, this happened. Enjoy.