Falcons rally to beat Packers 33-32 on Sanu's TD catch
ATLANTA (AP) Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining, rallying the Atlanta Falcons to a 33-32 victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The Falcons (5-3) snapped a two-game losing streak, driving 75 yards for the winning score after Rodgers put the Packers (4-3) ahead with his fourth TD pass of the game.
With Julio Jones shut down in the second half, Ryan turned to Sanu to bail out Atlanta. He caught five passes for 50 yards on the final possession, the last of them a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone after he lined up in the slot and got matched against linebacker Jake Ryan.
The Green Bay player didn't have a chance. Sanu raced past him and hauled in the pass right in front of the goalposts, the ball easily clearing Ryan's outstretched hands.
Sanu finished with nine catches for 84 yards, both season highs in his first season with the Falcons. Atlanta needed every one of them, since Jones was held to three catches for 29 yards and targeted only once in the second half – a dropped pass on the final possession.
Ryan was 28 of 35 for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
Rodgers threw for 246 yards, teaming up with a bunch of unknown receivers as the banged-up Packers played without six starters. Linebacker Clay Matthews and receiver Randall Cobb were among those who couldn't go because of hamstring injuries.
Three Green Bay receivers – Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis – hauled in their first career touchdowns. Allison, in fact, had just been promoted from the practice squad and never caught a pass in an NFL game. Ditto for Davis, a rookie who had mainly been used as a returner.
The Packers took a 32-26 lead after the Falcons were caught with too many men on the field, giving Green Bay a first down rather than having to go for a fourth-and-1. Rodgers went to Janis for a 7-yard touchdown with 3:58 remaining, followed by a 2-point conversion.
It wasn't enough. Sanu's touchdown tied the game, and Matt Bryant booted through the winning extra point. Bryant had already become the Falcons career leading scorer, passing Morten Andersen, with a PAT after Atlanta's first TD.
Rodgers was also Green Bay's leading rusher with a career-high 60 yards on six carries. He broke his previous best of 57 yards in 2012.
The Falcons lost tight end Jacob Tamme to a right shoulder injury on the opening possession.
Tamme took a hit at the end of a 13-yard reception, knocking the ball loose though the officials ruled his knee was already down. He went off the field holding his right arm and never returned.
Packers: Return home next Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts (3-5), in what will be the only game played in Green Bay during the month of November. They will play their next three games on the road.
Falcons: Have only three days to prepare for a Thursday night game at Tampa Bay (3-4), which is coming off a 30-24 overtime loss to Oakland. This will be the second meeting between the NFC South rivals; the Buccaneers opened the season with a 31-24 victory in Atlanta.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL