An unmitigated beatdown in Atlanta has delivered the Packers to a familiar fate: they’ve been eliminated from the poastseason via a crushing defeat in the NFC Championship game.
Points were expected, but it’s safe to say that the general consensus was that scores would be coming from both teams. The Packers could not keep up with the Falcons, who were virtually unstoppable thanks to presumptive-MVP Matt Ryan and his main counterpart, Julio Jones.
Atlanta started the game with several key third down conversions. With several short passes, Atlanta made a methodical march down the field. The biggest play was a 31 yard dump off pass to fullback Patrick DiMarco. That long play set up five and goal from the Packers’ five yard line. Two runs gained very little traction and the first touchdown came on a slip pass to Mohamed Sanu.
Packers gave Jordy Nelson the first few looks of the night. Nelson had the first two catches. The Packers moved down the field in quick order before stalling. Green Bay moved from their 25 to the Atlanta 29 in three plays. After that Davante Adams had a catch for six yards followed by two incomplete passes. Mason Crosby failed to add points as his attempt pushed wide right.
Packers defense again gave up significant yards on the following drive. Matt Ryan made many completions without facing much pass rush and hit receivers near the sidelines with the defensive backs covering deep. Matt Bryant did not fail to add the three points after the drive stalled out.
The Packers attempted to answer. Packers moved the ball well, but then Aaron Ripkowski fumbled the ball on a big first down run. Instead of having the ball inside the Atlanta ten, the Falcons started a drive after a touch back. Matt Ryan faced significant blitzes on the ensuing drive, but made big plays in the passing game. Ryan then finished that drive with a 14 yard touchdown scramble. It was a very bleak start for the Packers facing a 17-0 deficit with just 7:24 left in the first half.
Packers had a three-and-out on the next drive. Green Bay almost got the ball back when Taylor Gabriel attempted to catch a direct snap while in motion. Jake Ryan nearly recovered the fumble, but Gabriel was able to get back to the ball. Green Bay got the ball back at their own ten with 3:35 left in the half. However, after an odd looking sack where Ra’Shede Hageman barely touched Rodgers’ foot, Rodgers ended that hope by throwing a deep interception.
The Falcons ended the half by hitting a few dump passes and slants to move right down the field. The Packers were unable to intercept two catchable passes, and instead Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for a touchdown to make it 24-0 at halftime.
The Packers had the first crack at the ball in the second half, but couldn’t muster anything at all. The drive fizzled after Jared Cook dropped two passes, sending the Packers to the sidelines with a three-and-out.
Atlanta wasted zero time extending their lead, as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected on a 73-yard touchdown. Even though Ladarius Gunter held Jones on the play, the Falcons great escaped, then outraced Gunter and Quinten Rollins down the sideline to put Atlanta up 31-0.
Trailing by five scores, the Packers failed to showed some life on their next offensive possession. Jared Cook shook off his brief spate of drops to connect with Aaron Rodgers on several catches, and Davante Adams finally got the Packers on the board with a short touchdown catch.
After the Packers chose to pass on an onside kick, Atlanta calmly maneuvered its way down the field and scored again, this time on a quick pass to Devonta Freeman. The play was initially ruled to be short of the goal line, but it was ruled a touchdown after further review. The Falcons missed the point after, leaving the margin at 37-7.
Green Bay started strong on its next drive, thanks to a 28 yard sprint by Aaron Rodgers. However, just a few plays later, guard T.J. Lang was tangled up with another player while pass blocking and had to be helped off the field. Lang was in tears on the sideline as he was attended to by the Packers’ medical staff. Jordy Nelson later scored the Packers’ second touchdown of the game, beating cornerback Robert Alford for a score. Aaron Ripkowski pounded in the two point conversion to move the score to 37-15.
Mohamed Sanu recovered the ensuing onside kick, nearly escaping to return the kick for a touchdown thanks to a near miss by Marwin Evans. Quickly maneuvering down the short field, the Falcons pushed the score to 44-15 when Tevin Coleman sprinted around left end for a three yard touchdown.
Playing for scores that are little more than a footnote, the Packers melted down in the red zone on their next drive. A rare offensive face mask call on Aaron Rodgers pushed the ball back to the Atlanta 18-yard line, but a pass interference call against the Falcons on the next play gave the Packers the ball on the one yard line. Shortly thereafter, Jared Cook caught a touchdown pass on a short out from Rodgers, but Christine Michael was stuffed on the two point conversion, and the Falcons held onto a 23-point lead, 44-21.
Taking over with just under seven minutes to play, the Falcons bled the clock with a handful of run plays, ultimately punting and pinning the packers deep. The Packers took over from their own five yard line, featuring an offensive line with Letroy Guion at right guard. Guion was pressed into duty due to an injury to Bryan Bulaga, which forced some major reshuffling on the depleted offensive front.
Aaron Rodgers was also relegated to the sideline for the final drive, giving way to Brett Hundley as the Packers ran out the clock on a thorough defeat.