Green Bay Escapes With Win Over Atlanta: 3 Things We Learned
You would never know by the 43-37 score in the Green Bay Packers win over the Atlanta Falcons Monday night that this was a 31-7 lead by the home team at the half.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looked unstoppable and the Atlanta defense looked as limp as a two-day old salad.
Someone forgot to tell Mr. Rodgers that he and his players had a second half to play.
The Falcons outscored the Packers 30-12 in the final two quarters, but the led was too great to overcome despite a record receiving night from Julio Jones and the Packers added another loss to the Falcons record. Despite losing at Lambeau Field, Atlanta still holds a tie-breaker lead over New Orleans in the NFC South.
The Packers (10-3) earned their fifth consecutive victory to stay a game up on Detroit in the NFC North. They remain tied with Arizona for the NFC's best record.
Jones had a career-best 259 yards receiving for the Falcons before leaving with a hip injury. Jones had a 22-yard touchdown catch in a 20-point fourth quarter that helped Atlanta cut into Green Bay's big lead.
Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas with 2:15 left got Atlanta within six.
But the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick, and backup running back James Starks effectively ended Atlanta's upset hopes with a 41-yard run to the Falcons' 6 with 1:37 left.
The Falcons had won three of four going into the game. They haven't lost hope that they can still make the playoffs.
Here are three things we learned from Monday’s thriller.
ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD
Julio Jones set a Falcons franchise record with 259 receiving yards before leaving late in the game with a hip injury.
Jones' yards were the 4th-most in Monday Night Football history. 212 of his yards came on throws more than 10 yards downfield. - Jones had a career-high 7 receptions on passes traveling more than 10 yards downfield Monday, tied with T.Y. Hilton and Emmanuel Sanders for the most by any player in a game this season.
Jones had 116 yards after the catch, the second-most in his career and the second-most by a wide receiver in a game this season (Demaryius Thomas, 148).
GREEN BAY’S OFFENSE WAS PRETTY GOOD
The Packers are trying to become the 4th team in NFL history to average 40 PPG at home. Just two of the previous three (2011 Saints and 2011 Packers) went unbeaten at home. That 2011 Packers squad lost their first home playoff game to the Giants.
Aaron Rodgers was 23-of-31 for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns when the Falcons rushed 4 defenders or fewer. When Atlanta blitzed, Rodgers was 1-of-5 for 10 yards.
By contrast, Matt Ryan completed 7-of-11 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns against the blitz. Ryan's 15 touchdowns against the blitz are tied with Drew Brees for the most in the league this season.
RODGERS SHOWED HIS BRILLIANCE
Aaron Rodgers was 8-of-9 for 157 yards and a touchdown on play-action passes Monday, including 5 completions for 126 yards and a touchdown when targeting Jordy Nelson. The Packers averaged 6.0 yards per rush, their most in a game this season.
Green Bay ran for 119 yards on rushes outside the tackles, their most in a game since Week 17 in 2007 against the Lions. Aaron Rodgers scrambled for 2 first downs Monday to give him 16 for the season, second behind Russell Wilson (19). Nelson has caught a touchdown in all 7 games at home this season, the longest active streak in the league.
The last streak of more than 7 games was also done by Nelson (in all 8 games in 2011).