by Mark Metzler
No Davante Adams. No Allen Lazard. No problem. At least against the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers were able to use a good game plan and capitalize on Robert Tonyan’s career game to come away with a 30-16 win.
From the start, it was clear that the Packers adjusted to the absence of their two stellar wide receivers by Aaron Rodgers going to their running backs and tight ends. It paid off with a great first drive and almost paid off with the Packers pushing in a second touchdown on their second drive.
But the Falcons held at the goal line and then drove 94 yards, highlighted by the play of their skilled players, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley and Matt Ryan. Those guys have all been stars in the league and you could see why. Still, the Packers’ defense didn’t break and held the Falcons to a field goal. That drive was really only one of two highlights for the Falcons. They had a nice drive at the beginning of the second half as well. That’s about it. It’s going to be a long year for football fans in Atlanta.
The unfortunate thing for the Falcons is the rest of their team really isn’t that good, especially their secondary, which Rodgers picked apart with the backs, tight ends and second-tier receivers, Darrius Shepherd, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Malik Taylor. Robert Tonyan caught a touchdown pass for his third game in a row, as the Packers took a 13-3 lead. Then he caught two more touchdown passes before the end of the game for three on the day.
It was easy for Rodgers against the Falcons. He finished the game 27-33 for 327 yards and four touchdowns. In the first half he was 18-22 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. So far this season he has been nothing short of spectacular, playing at a near MVP clip. It was concerning to see him over-extend his knee near the end of the game, but he looked fine on the next drive.
What the win showed is following the system can get you a good deal, if it’s a good system. Matt LaFleur’s offense is good and it is clear the team is believing and executing. It was great how he utilized Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones out of the backfield.
It’s a tough injury for Lazard. He is out indefinitely after surgery for a core muscle injury. Apparently, he was suffering from that injury when he had a career day against the Saints. Good for him for his toughness. Adams was almost ready Monday, but was held out of the game.
There were a number of injuries in the game. Kenny King, Chandon Sullivan and Darnell Savage were hurt in the secondary; King and Sullivan did not come back. Plus, Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary missed the game because of injury. Tight end Marcedes Lewis was also out on the offense. The bye week is coming at the right time. I’m expecting all but Lazard to be back for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the bye. The defense will need to be at full strength.
For us Packers fans who hoped to get to sleep at a fairly decent hour after the game, that hope was pushed back because of the NFL’s decision to postpone the Kansas City/New England game until Monday because Cam Newton of the Patriots tested positive for COVID. The Titans game against the Steelers was also postponed until later in the month because players tested positive for COVID. It’s unfortunate, and it’s going to continue to happen in the NFL. Last week I heard talk of a shortened season, just as they had done in baseball. We’ll have to see.