Falcons vs. Packers Game Balls: Quarless and Bush Earn Praise for Big Games

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We award game balls to some highly unlikely candidates this week.

Since the Green Bay Packers pulled out a win this week, we have several more candidates for our Game Balls than we have over the past month. The offense put up a relatively balanced performance, while the defense got critical plays at critical times to give the offense good field position and to seal the win. Here are our nominees for Packer of the week.

OFFENSE

TE Andrew Quarless

Who was the leading receiver on the day for the Green Bay Packers? No, not Jordy Nelson, who finished with four catches for 87 yards. It was Andrew Quarless, who set career highs with six receptions and 66 yards, and added his second career touchdown with the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. Quarless' catches came at key times, as he picked up a critical third down conversion on the Packers' opening drive (which ended in a touchdown) and picked up four first downs, including the score.

RB Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy's rushing stats won't scream "great game", as he carried the ball 20 times for 65 yards (3.3 per carry) and an early score, but they belie his effort and determination yet again. He had the most impressive one-yard carry I can remember in this game, as he was hit four yards behind the line of scrimmage but shook off the tackle to get back past the line of scrimmage. He was also a factor in the passing game early on with three receptions for 23 yards, including a 16-yard screen pass on first and 15 on the Packers' first scoring drive.

DEFENSE

CB Jarrett Bush

You knew the much-maligned Jarrett Bush would make an appearance here today. After both Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore got banged up on the Falcons second-to-last drive, Bush entered the game on defense as the emergency inside linebacker/safety. He was in coverage on Tony Gonzalez when a pass to the tight end was dropped (though I'll argue that Bush affected Gonzalez's ability to catch that ball in a significant way). He also managed to narrowly avoid carrying a punt into the end zone from the one-yard line but sealed the game with an interception of Matt Ryan on the final defensive snap of the game.

OLB Nick Perry

While Mike Neal might get more credit than Nick Perry because he recorded a key sack-strip of Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter, Perry was in Ryan's face all game long and forced multiple poor throws and incompletions. He did so from both outside linebacker spots, and though he has played better on the right side than the left this year, he was able to get pressure from both sides on Sunday and was also very stout against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Mason Crosby

A 40-yard field goal in miserable winter conditions is no small feat, but Crosby drilled one early on in the game and added two shorter kicks later on. In a one-point game, every made kick is essential, and it was his leg that helped narrow the Falcons' lead during the second and third quarters to help keep the Packers within one score.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

QB Matt Flynn
DE Johnny Jolly
P Tim Masthay
OLB Mike Neal

Flynn had a nice game, certainly the most complete game of any of the Packers' backup QBs since Rodgers' injury. Jolly came up big with a fumble recovery and was a force against the run. Masthay was great, averaging over 47 yards on his three punts and laying one down at the one-yard line to pin the Falcons deep for the last drive of the game. Neal had the Packers' only sack with the strip of Ryan that led to the go-ahead touchdown.

Who earns your vote for Packer of the game? Let us know in the poll and the comments!

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