5 things to know after Packers beat Falcons 22-21
Finally, the Packers got the all-around effort they needed to
make up for the loss of Aaron Rodgers.
Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to break Green Bay’s way
after a 22-21 win Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons snapped a
five-game winless streak.
Backup Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards and a score in his second
straight start, while the defense bounced back with a clutch
performance after recent struggles.
With three games left in an injury-filled season, the Packers
(6-6-1) stand just a half-game back of the division-leading Detroit
Lions, who lost to Philadelphia on Sunday. The Bears (6-6) host the
Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
As for Rodgers, he appears to be getting closer to returning
from a left collarbone injury he sustained Nov. 4 in a 27-20 loss
”Hopefully he takes another step next week toward getting
healthy,” guard T.J. Lang said. ”But until then, I think Matt’s
done a nice job.”
Five things to know after Green Bay notched its first win since
a 44-31 victory over Minnesota on Oct. 27:
BOUNCING BACK: A smattering of boos cascaded down on the Packers
late in the first half, trailing by double digits on a
bone-chilling afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Coach Mike McCarthy went into the locker room wondering how much
energy his players had with the team’s playoff prospects in
jeopardy. Green Bay responded with its most complete performance in
Mason Crosby kicked three field goals. Reserve cornerback
Jarrett Bush made two critical plays in the fourth quarter. Flynn
cashed in on a Falcons turnover with a 2-yard touchdown pass to
tight end Andrew Quarless with 12:01 left in the game for the 22-21
lead that completed the comeback from an 11-point halftime
”I really like the football team, particularly at halftime,
coming in, getting booed at home, and just the energy in the locker
room. They never blinked, they stayed the course,” McCarthy
OUT OF BREATH: The comeback overshadowed an improbable 71-yard
interception return for a touchdown by Falcons linebacker Sean
Weatherspoon that gave Atlanta a 21-10 lead late in the second
A pass from Flynn appeared to carom off linebacker Paul
Worrilow’s shoe and into the hands of Weatherspoon. He lumbered
back up the field past Packers who thought the ball touched the
Weatherspoon said he was just doing what he’s been coached to do
since he was a child.
”Even if it hit the ground, you still have to take that
chance,” he said. ”That’s something that started with me a long
time ago playing pee-wee ball or whatever.”
GOOD TIMES: The defense responded with a strong performance
after an embarrassing 40-10 loss on Thanksgiving Day to Detroit. Of
the two offensive touchdowns scored by Atlanta, one came after
Flynn lost a fumble at his own 13 after getting sacked.
It came down to defense in a nail-biting fourth quarter.
Mike Neal’s sack forced Matt Ryan to fumble, and defensive
lineman Johnny Jolly scooped up the loose ball and celebrated with
a little belly dance. Quarless scored four plays later.
”We needed to have fun. That’s what we did today,” Jolly said.
”We went out there and left everything that we had and made plays
and had fun.”
MISSING OUT: It was 9 degrees when the game started, with a wind
chill of minus-1. Still, the Falcons, who play home games at the
Georgia Dome, didn’t think the weather was a big factor.
Coach Mike Smith was more concerned about the missed
Matt Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal attempt into the wind
with 6:42 left. The Falcons got to the 33 with 2 minutes left, but
Tony Gonzalez dropped a short pass from Ryan under tight coverage
”We can’t talk about one specific play that was the
difference,” Smith said. ”We had our chances to make some plays
in all three phases and we didn’t.”
Just another loss in a frustrating season for Atlanta.
TIGHT PLAYS: Found in the Packers offense: the tight ends.
Until Sunday, Green Bay didn’t get much production from the
position since Jermichael Finley sustained a season-ending neck
injury in October.
Quarless (six catches, 66 yards) had his best day of the year,
while Brandon Bostick (two catches, 28 yards) also got into the
mix. The passing game had more diversity and didn’t have to rely as
much on receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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