On Sunday, the Packers entered their game against the Atlanta Falcons without several key starters on offense and defense including Clay Matthews, Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall, Ty Montgomery, and Randall Cobb. It was always going to be rough going stopping the Falcons, but the offense did their best to keep up up and turned this into one of the more entertaining games of the year.
The Packers stayed step-for-step with the Falcons without all those players, but could not come up with a miracle comeback after Atlanta took a 33-32 lead with about a half-minute left in the game.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 246 and four touchdowns in one of his best performances of the season, but the offense bogged down in the second half and scored just eight points after halftime.
After the Falcons kicked a field goal on their opening drive, the Packers came firing out of the gate. Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a bomb out of the slot, eventually leading to a shorter Nelson touchdown pass. Following a quick strike by Matt Ryan to Taylor Gabriel for a 47-yard score, Rodgers struck again to the newly called up Geronimo Allison for another score and a 14-10 lead.
Another field goal by the Falcons’ Matt Bryant pulled the Falcons to within one at 14-13. Following a Packers punt and a defensive stop, Trevor Davis broke off a 55-yard punt return that put the Packers inside the red zone instantly. Davis finished off the drive with a beautiful sideline catch-and-throw in the corner of the end zone.
Devonta Freeman added a touchdown reception of his own late in the first half, but the Falcons went for two in an effort to tie the game and failed. With 27 seconds left, the Packers drove down the field quickly and set up Mason Crosby for a field goal and a 24-19 halftime lead.
The two teams were far less prolific on the scoreboard in the third quarter, as Devonta Freeman’s one-yard touchdown run put the Falcons back ahead 26-24. However, Rodgers struck back early in the fourth quarter, finding Jeff Janis for a touchdown in the back of the end zone. The Packers added a two-point conversion on a brilliant zone read by Rodgers, giving them a 32-26 edge with about five minutes left in the game.
Atlanta drove down the field, though, running down all but 31 seconds off the clock before Matt Ryan found Mohamed Sanu for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Bryant’s PAT was good, giving Atlanta the lead 33-32.
That gave Rodgers and company the football with two timeouts. First, Rodgers hit Janis on a 7-yard out to the sideline before throwing incomplete to Nelson over the middle, but Nelson was banged up on the play and cost the team one timeout. Rodgers then threw incomplete to Allison, setting up a 4th and 3 with 14 seconds to go. Rodgers was flushed to his right and had to rush a throw to Davante Adams, but the receiver could not reach it, ending the Packers’ drive.
Ryan and Rodgers dueled each other to nearly identical passing numbers; Rodgers was 28/38 for 246 yards and four scores while Ryan was 28/35 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers did add six carries for 60 yards on the ground as well.
Leading the way for the Packers through the air were Davante Adams, who had 12 catches for 74 yards, and Jordy Nelson, who put up 4 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. Nelson’s 58-yard bomb in the first quarter was the team’s longest play of the year, but he did little after that first series.