The Green Bay Packers got a big 34-20 victory on Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons, giving Joe Philbin a win in his first game as the team’s interim head coach. It wasn’t a big win because the Packers are still in the thick of the playoff race, though they are still mathematically alive. Instead, it seems big for the confidence of the team, giving the players and fans belief that the problems the team had dealt with all season are indeed fixable.
The Packers got big contributions from three reserves on the offensive line, however, as a trio of starters were made inactive just before game time. Although the line as a whole did allow four sacks, including three on third downs, they kept Aaron Rodgers clean in the second half and helped the team pick up nearly 140 rushing yards on the day.
Here’s a look at the playing time from Sunday’s 34-20 Packers victory.
OFFENSE (65 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 64, DeShone Kizer 1
Rodgers gave way to Kizer for a kneel-down on the final snap of the game. Other than that, Rodgers had a moderately efficient day, completing just under two-thirds of his passes by going 21-for-32 (65.6%). His 6.13 yards per attempt number won’t impress, but the important factor was that he kept the chains moving on third downs.
Rodgers completed five of six pass attempts on third downs for four conversions and added a pair of scrambles for first downs as well. The Packers did allow three third-down sacks in the first half, but the overall 7-for-13 conversion rate was a huge step forward.
We also must mention Rodgers setting the new record for pass attempts without an interception, as he has still thrown just one all year. Still, there were two passes that he could have been picked off on during Sunday’s game, including one that hit Deion Jones in the hands a few throws before he did indeed set the record. But it’s still fun to see one of the NFL’s all-time best at avoiding turnovers get a record like this, so congrats to Rodgers on setting the new mark!
Aaron Jones 42, Jamaal Williams 24, Dan Vitale 2
Williams started the game for the Packers, which seemed bizarre and inexplicable at the time. However, it may have had something to do with the pace of the opening drive, as the team seems to prefer him to Jones when in no-huddle or quick passing situations. Jones came on and dominated the snap count the rest of the way, however, and he ended up out-touching Williams 20 to 4.
Jones was back over 4.5 yards per carry in this game, with 17 totes for 78 yards and a score. He added three receptions for 28 yards. Williams, meanwhile, carried the ball four times for 17 yards.
Davante Adams 56, Randall Cobb 44, Equanimeous St. Brown 34, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30, Jake Kumerow 6
Adams had another 11 targets, catching seven balls for 81 yards and a touchdown. He should have had another 30-yard reception, but it was wiped out by a pass interference call on Jimmy Graham on a pick play. St. Brown seems to be slowly catching up to MVS, as the two have been about even on snaps and targets in recent weeks. Cobb returned to relevance this week, thanks in large part to his 24-yard touchdown reception on the play that gave Rodgers the record.
Jimmy Graham 47, Lance Kendricks 17, Marcedes Lewis 16, Robert Tonyan 7
Graham caught just two passes for 13 yards in this game, though one did move the chains on third down. The rest of the tight ends were swapped in and out largely in blocking situations, as none had even a single target.
Lucas Patrick 65, Jason Spriggs 65, Corey Linsley 65, David Bakhtiari 64, Justin McCray 62, Alex Light 3, Adam Pankey 1
With three starters out, Patrick, Spriggs, and McCray came on to start and provided nearly full games. As mentioned earlier, the group did allow three sacks on third downs in the first half, two of which led to field goals. However, the second half was much better, as they did not allow a single sack after halftime.
McCray missed three snaps early on for a minor issue, but returned to play the remainder of the game. Patrick, meanwhile, endeared himself to his quarterback by sticking up for him after a borderline hit on a scramble by defensive back Brian Poole. Patrick got into a scrum with several Falcons defenders and won some major points for his protective instincts.
DEFENSE (71 plays)
Dean Lowry 56, Kenny Clark 51, Tyler Lancaster 22, Montravius Adams 12
Interestingly, Clark did not show up on the stat sheet in the game despite playing about 70 percent of the team’s snaps. However, this may have been by design by the Falcons; instead, Lowry and Lancaster picked up much of the tackles among this group with three apiece. Lancaster had one big TFL on a swing pass, and Lowry had a hit on quarterback Matt Ryan.
Kyler Fackrell 57, Clay Matthews 55, Reggie Gilbert 30
Matthews had one of the Packers’ two sacks of Ryan on the day, with the second going down as a “team sack” in the stat sheet. He also had a second tackle for loss and a second hit on Ryan in a fairly solid performance. Fackrell also had a TFL and a hit on Ryan, with three total tackles, while Gilbert had just one solo stop.
Blake Martinez 71, Antonio Morrison 7
It’s a refrain at this point; Martinez had double-digit tackles with 12 total. The Packers were able to use safety Josh Jones as a Nitro linebacker for much of this game, however, which we’ll get to shortly.
We at APC still hope to see more of rookie Oren Burks down the stretch, however. These last few games could and should be good opportunities for developmental snaps for him.
Tramon Williams 71, Kentrell Brice 65, Josh Jones 63, Eddie Pleasant 6
Brice’s return allowed the team to largely keep Jones down in the box at Nitro linebacker, where he picked up five solo tackles and an assist. Brice had three and one for four total tackles, while Williams was held off the stat sheet despite not missing a snap.
The fact that Brice was able to play, however, did really open up the possibilities for Mike Pettine, at least in terms of how best to use Jones. It was nice to see him flying around closer to the line of scrimmage once again.
Jaire Alexander 71, Tony Brown 59, Josh Jackson 56, Bashaud Breeland 23, Will Redmond 5
While Williams and Brice primarily manned the safety position, the Packers’ corner rotation was strange early on. Breeland was arguably one of the stars of the game, with a pick-six and a fumble recovery, but he played fewer than a third of the game’s snaps. This reduced workload may be an effort to keep his snaps in check as he continues to work through a groin injury, however.
Meanwhile, Alexander spent essentially the entire game matched up on Julio Jones one-on-one. He finished the day with ten solo tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup — though he should have had two, if the Packers’ first replay review had been changed from a catch to an incompletion. Brown added five total tackles while Jackson had two solo stops, two pass breakups, and another defensive holding penalty.