ATLANTA -- Some thoughts from the Georgia Dome after a thrilling game between two of the NFC’s top teams.
What it means: At least the Packers don’t go down easy. They’ve now lost four times this season, all by three points. Two were in overtime, and the other two have come within the final minute of the game. Despite the loss, I thought the Packers did nothing to deter us from believing they are one of the top teams in the NFC. But they’ll have to await the winner of the Chicago Bears' game against the Philadelphia Eagles to determine if they still hold a part of first place in the NFC North.
What happened: The Falcons got a short field to work with after the Packers tied the game with 56 seconds remaining. Packers cover man Matt Wilhelm’s face mask call against returner Eric Weems gave Atlanta the ball at the Packers’ 49-yard line. The Falcons had to move only 21 yards to get in position for Matt Bryant’s 47-yard game-winning field goal.
Final dash: The Packers tied the game with an epic 16-play, 90-yard drive that consumed 6 minutes, 5 seconds and didn’t end until quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jordy Nelson on fourth down with 56 seconds left. It was one of two fourth-down plays the Packers converted on the drive.
No rush: Rodgers was the Packers’ best rushing option against the Falcons’ physical defense, finishing with 51 yards on 12 carries. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Packers used more five-receiver sets Sunday than the rest of the NFL had in the previous 11 weeks of the season combined. We’ll get you the full numbers after the game.
Don’t forget: Rodgers was charged with a fumble on a goal-line sneak late in the second quarter. The Falcons recovered for a touchback and scored just before halftime in what was a significant momentum swing. Packers medical officials briefly looked at Rodgers’ wrist on the sideline, but apparently he did not suffer a serious injury.
Reviewable? Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez converted a fourth-and-3 play on that ensuing drive with a catch that replays later showed to be questionable at best. Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn’t challenge the call, but in his defense, a quality television replay didn’t surface until several plays later.
What’s next: The Packers host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at Lambeau Field.