Atlanta Falcons: What Was Learned in Green Bay
You could not ask for a better comeback by the Atlanta Falcons. But the comeback came to an end as the Green Bay Packers 24-point lead in the first half was too much to overcome. While the loss hurts in many ways – not to mention it was the eighth defeat of the year for the NFC South leader, it was a perfect night for Julio Jones and the 259 yards he gained in receiving yards.
Here are five things we learned from Monday night according to atlantafalcons.com.
1. Injury Updates: Falcons head coach Mike Smith addressed the media Tuesday, providing the latest injury updates on Julio Jones and William Moore.
"That was a very physical football game that was played last night," Smith said. "Both Julio (Jones) and William (Moore) are guys that are sore this morning. Julio has a hip injury, and William Moore has a foot injury.
We’re hoping both these guys are ready to go at the end of the week. How much practice time they’re going to get, we don’t know that at this point in time, but it is our intention to do everything in our power to have these guys ready to go against Pittsburgh. Robert Alford (wrist) is continuing to work with our trainers. We’re hoping to have a better idea of where he’s at in regards to his injury in the next 48 hours or so."
2. Julio's Jaw-Dropping Stats: Jones said Monday Night Football is a stage to show the world how good you are, and he did just that and then some on Lambeau Field in Week 14. Jones shined Monday night, setting a franchise record with 259 receiving yards on 11 catches. He topped Roddy White’s mark of 210 yards set at San Francisco in 2009. Jones' 259-yard outburst was the best performance by any receiver in the NFL this season.
He added his sixth touchdown catch of the season, hauling in a 22-yard pass from Matt Ryan. He's caught a touchdown pass in three-straight games and has more than 180 receiving yards in back-to-back contests.
According to STATS LLC, Jones' 259 yards were the most by a receiver on Monday night since Jerry Rice logged 289 yards in 1995. He also set a club record for single-season receiving yards, running his 2014 total to an NFL-leading 1,428 yards in just 13 games. Jones also leads the NFC with 93 receptions on the season. In four-career Monday Night games, Jones has caught 31 passes for 500 yards with two touchdowns. He is averaging 16.1 yards per catch and 125 yards per game in those contests.
3. Ryan Spreads the Wealth: Ryan completed 24-of-39 pass attempts for 375 yards, tying a career high with four touchdown passes, while posting a 116.9 passer rating Monday night. Ryan's four touchdowns against the Packers were to four different receivers (Jones, White, Eric Weems and Harry Douglas). He's thrown at least one touchdown to 11 different receivers and has thrown for a score in 18-straight games dating back to 2013. Monday marked Ryan’s 55th-career multi-touchdown game and his 28th game with 300-plus passing yards.
4. White and Jackson Love Monday Night Football: White's 1-yard touchdown Monday night shouldn't have surprised Falcons fans. Loving the prime time spotlight, White's score was his sixth touchdown in his last eight games on Monday Night Football. In his last five games on Monday Night, he's totaled 38 catches, 457 yards, (91.4 yards per game) and three touchdowns.
Smith said White played the most snaps of any wide receiver on the field Monday night, ending with three receptions for 42 yards and the score. Like White, Falcons running back Steven Jackson shines in the Monday-night spotlight. He has scored one rushing touchdown in six-straight games on Monday Night Football. His 1-yard score in Week 14 was part of his 50-yard-rushing performance, giving him 652 yards this season.
5. Trufant Thriving, Expects More: Desmond Trufant continued his strong late-season surge Monday night, logging five tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass defense. He leads the Falcons with 14 passes defensed this season. Despite his individual success Monday night, Trufant was more focused on the defensive improvements needed as a group to end this season on a high note.
"We definitely didn't start the way we wanted to, but we kept fighting," Trufant said Monday night. "Defensively, we lost this game. We fought to the end, but defensively, we lost the game. Our offense nearly put up 40 points; we can't ask for anything more than that. We have to step up if we're going to do something."