Falcons end skid, come through late to beat Packers 33-32
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons found a way to finish out a win and end a two-game losing streak.
They're hoping the discovery will help them stay on top of the NFC South.
The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, need better health as they try to stay close in the NFC North.
Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining Sunday and the Falcons overcame Aaron Rodgers' do-it-all best to beat the Packers 33-32 on Sunday.
It was an important win for the Falcons (5-3), who had lost two straight and already were hearing suggestions they were headed for a repeat of their 2015 season, when they started 6-1 and still missed the playoffs at 8-8.
The Falcons insist this team is different and able to overcome losses to Seattle and San Diego the last two weeks.
''Certainly, we didn't get the result we wanted the last two weeks, but I don't think anybody was discouraged,'' Ryan said. ''We learned from those situations, we came back and when we had our opportunity late in the game today, I thought it was executed really well.''
On first down from the Green Bay 11, Sanu and Julio Jones lined up left.
''Julio ran outside and drew two guys and it left me one-on-one with a linebacker,'' Sanu said.
Sanu beat linebacker Jake Ryan on his route and caught Ryan's fastball under the goalpost.
''When we practiced it during the week, he said he was going to put a little extra zip on that … and he did,'' Sanu said with a grin.
Green Bay (4-3) couldn't overcome the loss of six starters.
Linebacker Clay Matthews and wide receiver Randall Cobb were held out with hamstring injuries. Also missing were starting tight end Jared Cook, who has an ankle injury, wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery, who was limited all week by an illness, and starting cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall.
Rodgers completed 28 of 38 passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for a career-high 60 yards.
''First of all, there are no excuses,'' Rodgers said. ''We're all professionals out here and are expected to play well, and to that accord I'm proud of our guys and the way they battled.''
Here are some things to know about the Falcons' win over the Packers:
NEW TARGETS: Receivers Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis caught their first career touchdowns as Rodgers kept the offense moving.
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who had six carries for the season before Sunday, matched that with six carries for 34 yards. He had four carries for 13 yards on the Packers' 13-play, 86-yard touchdown drive for a 32-26 lead with 4:04 remaining.
12 IS TOO MANY: A crucial mistake by defensive end Brooks Reed almost cost the Falcons. Reed was too slow to run off the field on a third-down play inside the Falcons 20, and Atlanta was penalized for having 12 men on the field.
If not for the penalty, the Packers would have faced a fourth-and-1 play from the Atlanta 15. Instead, they had a first down at the 13 that helped set up Rodgers' 7-yard touchdown pass to Janis. Rodgers' run for the 2-point conversion gave Green Bay a 32-26 lead with about 4 minutes remaining.
ADAMS TRIES BACKFIELD: Davante Adams, who started for Cobb, followed the lead of Cobb and Montgomery by lining up at running back as well as receiver.
''Davante, to his credit, has to know so many different positions and so many different personnel groups,'' said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who called Adams ''the backup, backup, backup, backup running back/wide receiver in the backfield.''
TAMME HURTS SHOULDER: Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme left with a right shoulder injury suffered on the first possession. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the injury is not expected to be ''a long-term thing.'' Quinn said Tamme's status for Thursday's game at Tampa Bay ''is in question right now.''
BRYANT KICKS WAY TO TOP: Matt Bryant passed Morten Anderson to become the Falcons' all-time leading scorer. Bryant began the day with 803 career points, three away from Anderson's record of 806. He kicked a 36-yard field goal to cap Atlanta's opening drive to tie Anderson and added a 40-yard field goal and three more extra points.
Anderson kicked for Atlanta from 1995-2000 and then returned to close his career with the Falcons in 2006 and 2007.
AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL