clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Packers Time Capsule: Packers dominate Falcons on Monday Night Football in 2020

Pandemic-era football feels like a distant memory.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2020 feels like a lifetime ago in a lot of ways, but looking back on the Packers’ early season Monday Night Football win over the Falcons that year makes it feel even more surreal.

Primetime football is supposed to be exciting. It’s an event, especially Monday Night Football. How many other sporting events have such recognizable pageantry? But playing in an empty stadium, it’s hard for that theatricality to shine through.

Such was the case in 2020, where the NFL bulldozed its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, playing in largely or entirely empty stadiums as league decision-makers did what they could to keep players safe and the season humming along.

The Packers didn’t have to deal with any effects of the pandemic heading into that game, but the Falcons were without cornerback A.J. Terrell. Illness was hardly their only concern, though, as injuries aplenty had decimated the Falcons’ defense. The Falcons also lost Julio Jones to a hamstring injury during the game, leaving their defense shorthanded and their offense ill-equipped to hang with the Packers.

And boy, what an effort it would have taken to keep up with the Packers that day. Despite missing both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard due to injury, the Green Bay attack hardly slowed. Aaron Rodgers completed 27 of 33 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to 2020 breakout star Robert Tonyan. Jamaal Williams also had a banner day as a receiver, catching 8 passes for 95 yards, both career highs.

On defense, Za’Darius Smith had a monster game. He logged three sacks against Atlanta, giving him five sacks on the season. It was his second three-sack game as a member of the Packers.

The stats, though, distract from the otherworldly feel of the game. The New York Times wrote of the odd scenes both on and off the field, noting that both teams could easily hear their opponent’s huddled-up communications during timeouts. Even in highlights, the feel of the game is…wrong. It’s obvious that the piped-in crowd noise is artificial. It doesn’t quite match up with what’s going on, and even a quick wide shot dispels whatever illusion of attendance it might have provided.

There will be no need for fake crowd noise on Sunday, though. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be plenty loud, and the curiosity of pandemic-era football will be a distant memory — however weird it may have felt at the time.