It was a rematch of last year’s National Football Conference championship game in Atlanta Sunday night, and the outcome was the same as the Green Bay Packers prevailed over the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 25 – 14. This game was projected to be a shootout between two high-powered offenses, but it didn’t quite play out that way.
It was the Falcons who came out swinging, scoring two touchdowns in their first two possessions, both on long drives, which caused Cheeseheads concern as it is never good to spot the opposition a 14 – 0 lead. In the second quarter left tackle Chad Clifton left the game with a hamstring injury and things looked bleak as the Packers had to play the balance of the game with two reserve offensive tackles (right tackle Bryan Bulaga was inactive due to injury). The Packer offense just wasn’t in sync in the first half and two trips into the red zone resulted in only 6 points. The Packers lost a fumble, dropped a touchdown pass and generally sputtered. The first half ended with the Falcons up 14 – 6.
However, at halftime the Packer brain trust made adjustments and the second half was nothing like the first. In the second half the defense tightened up and played more bump and run coverage on the Falcon receivers and dialed up their pass rush. It seemed like the Atlanta offense never adjusted to the changes the Packer defense made. For some strange reason they almost abandoned their running game which I thought was key to their chances of victory.
Aaron Rodgers and Company came back in the second half in a huff with 19 unanswered points. Rodgers hit James Jones with a 70-yard touchdown pass to give the Packers the lead late in the third quarter and the Packers never looked back. Jones had a career day catching five passes for 140 yards. He was one of the 12 (yes 12) receivers whom Aaron Rodgers hit on the day, torching the Atlanta secondary.
It can hardly get any better for Cheeseheads. The Packers have rolled off 11 victories in a row dating back to their Super Bowl run last year. The team is on fire right now and even with the mistakes made against the Falcons in the first half the Pack found a way to win on the road in a tough venue.
Of concern are the injuries to the two tackles, although second-year player Marshall Newhouse and rookie Derek Sherrod held up well. Of no concern is the talent the Packers have on offense. Coach Mike McCarthy and the Packer assistant coaching staff are in a zone right now that reminds me of the offensive juggernaut during the Lombardi era and that is a very good thing.
Next up are the St Louis Rams at Lambeau. The Rams are near the bottom of the bottom dwellers in the NFL and that should make the Packers two touchdown favorites next week. A Congressional investigation should take place if the Packers lose next week but then again, these are the games that can go awry.