The Green Bay Packers had a rough fourth quarter on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and the defense as a whole had a particularly long day. The Falcons held the football for over 36 minutes of game time in their 25-24 victory over the Packers, using a devastating and consistent ground game to eat up clock and eventually wear down Green Bay’s defense.
Of the Falcons’ nine meaningful drives, seven lasted 8 plays or more, with four in double digits. Atlanta also had five drives of more than four minutes and three that were more than five minutes long, while the Packers only managed to force a single punt — the other non-scoring drives for Atlanta were an interception and a turnover on downs.
The Packers, meanwhile, did all of their damage in the second and third quarters, when they scored on four consecutive drives. The team gained just one first down combined in the first and fourth quarters, which came on a pass interference penalty on the first play of the game.
Given the discrepancy in possession and total offensive plays — 78 to 47 in favor of Atlanta — it’s probably no surprise that the Packers’ defense wore down and collapsed late in the game. If the offense could have gained just one first down in the fourth quarter, perhaps the Packers would be sitting at 2-0 rather than 1-1.
OFFENSE (50 total snaps)
Jordan Love 50
Love had another efficient day in Atlanta, throwing for three touchdowns for the second consecutive game. Before the fourth quarter, he had an excellent stat line of 14-for-19 with 151 yards and those three scores. However, his six straight incompletions in the fourth, along with his mistake on the call on his would-be quarterback sneak attempt, will color the view of his performance. That late-game sequence will be a learning opportunity for the young quarterback.
AJ Dillon 34, Patrick Taylor 11, Emanuel Wilson 5
With Aaron Jones inactive, Dillon got almost all of the work as a runner, carrying the football 15 times for 55 yards. He had a long of just 8 yards, however, and too often went to ground with minimal contact — or none at all, in the case of a late third-and-short.
Interestingly, the Packers barely worked Wilson into the gameplan at all, and in hurry-up situations, they even turned to Taylor over Dillon for reliable blitz pickups and check-down routes. Taylor only ended up with one touch, a one-yard carry, but it’s rather telling that he was the back on the field on the final drive with a minute left as opposed to Dillon.
Romeo Doubs 38, Jayden Reed 28, Dontayvion Wicks 25, Samori Touré 23, Malik Heath 10
Green Bay continued to rotate through their wide receivers this week, but it’s clear that Doubs’ hamstring is improving, as he played nearly 80 percent of the team’s snaps. Love only targeted him three times in the game, however, as Atlanta had him well-covered throughout the game.
That left more targets for Reed (8) and Wicks (4), who each scored their first NFL touchdowns. Reed finished the day as the only Packers receiver with more than two receptions, as he caught four balls for 37 yards and two scores. Wicks led the way with 40 receiving yards on two catches, including his 32-yard touchdown.
Luke Musgrave 44, Josiah Deguara 19, Ben Sims 5, Tucker Kraft 2
Once again, Musgrave was the only tight end to get significant playing time in-line, with Deguara serving as the wing and fullback option. Musgrave caught two of three targets for 25 yards, with Love struggling to find him over the middle despite the Falcons missing one of their starting linebackers.
Josh Myers 50, Jon Runyan 50, Zach Tom 49, Rasheed Walker 45, Royce Newman 32, Elgton Jenkins 18, Yosh Nijman 12
Not having David Bakhtiari — for whatever reason — sent Walker into the starting lineup in this game, but the Packers rotated in Nijman a bit at times. Perhaps the most fascinating piece of the line rotation was when the team would use an extra tackle as a tight end; in all cases, that was Walker lining up in that spot with Nijman at left tackle, and then Walker would often return back to the left tackle spot and Nijman came off the field.
The big issue on the line was Jenkins leaving in the second quarter. That brought Newman on as his replacement at left guard. Jenkins reportedly has a sprained MCL and could miss some time. If Bakhtiari plays next Sunday at Lambeau Field, it will be interesting to see if Newman starts in Jenkins’ place, or if Zach Tom moves over from right tackle to left guard, perhaps with Nijman replacing him.
DEFENSE (82 total snaps)
Kenny Clark 61, T.J. Slaton 50, Devonte Wyatt 48, Colby Wooden 36, Karl Brooks 23
The Packers’ linemen got worn down in this game. A week after playing a comfortable 38 snaps, Clark’s 61 were the most for him in a single since he logged 64 against the Cowboys last week and it was one of just three times he hit the 60 mark since the start of 2022. Meanwhile, Slaton played 50 snaps, far exceeding the career high of 40 he put in last week in Chicago.
Clark looked fresh and disruptive throughout the first half, but clearly wore down as the game went on. Fundamentally, those numbers are simply too high for players in the 315 to 335 pound range, and the defense needs to do a better job getting off the field.
Preston Smith 58, JJ Enagbare 40, Justin Hollins 26, Rashan Gary 22, Lukas Van Ness 18
The Packers’ plan to use Gary as a situational pass rusher was challenged a bit this week, as Van Ness left the game in the third quarter with an elbow injury. That led to a bit more work for Gary, who responded with a half-sack (split with Clark). However, this unit failed to do much against the Falcons’ running game, as Van Ness had the only tackle for loss by any member of the entire defense in these 82 total snaps.
Quay Walker 82, De’Vondre Campbell 68, Isaiah McDuffie 2
It’s not great when your two inside linebackers combine for a whopping 31 total tackles — with only 15 of those being solo tackles. That’s a sign that defenders aren’t getting players on the ground alone, and instead it’s taking two or three or more players to bring down ballcarriers. Walker had 8 solo and 9 assisted tackles for a total of 17, and he also had a dropped interception early in the third quarter that could have yielded a great return.
McDuffie’s two snaps came in an interesting 3-LB look, as the Packers showed just a bit of a 4-3 alignment.
Darnell Savage 82, Rudy Ford 82
It was a two-man show at safety in this game, but the Packers got more of the same from Ford as they got a week ago. The two safeties combined for 11 solo tackles and 15 total, but neither was much of a factor in the run or pass game.
Jaire Alexander 82, Rasul Douglas 82, Keisean Nixon 38, Carrington Valentine 2
It was a bit of a rough day for Alexander, who gave up a few critical completions to second-year receiver Drake London, including one touchdown. London finished the day with six catches, 67 yards, and a score to lead the Falcons in all categories.
Douglas recorded the Packers’ only interception of the game on the opening drive, for which Kenny Clark deserves an assist for hitting Ridder mid-throw.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Dallin Leavitt 22, Deguara 20, Eric Wilson 18, McDuffie 17, Jonathan Owens 17, Innis Gaines 16