Wrap-up: Packers 25, Falcons 14
October, 9, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' comeback 25-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons:
What it means: The Packers improved to an NFL-best 5-0 after their most impressive performance of the season. The Packers also extended their winning streak to 11 games, dating to last season and including the playoffs. Now the Packers will watch Monday night to see if the Detroit Lions can match their record by defeating the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
Adversity football: That's a phrase coach Mike McCarthy uses often. Sunday night, the Packers faced their first two-touchdown deficit since midway through the 2009 season, trailing 14-0 with nearly four minutes remaining in the first quarter. They outscored the Falcons 25-0 the rest of the way. They also overcame the loss of left tackle Chad Clifton, who suffered what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury in the second quarter. The Packers finished the game with Marshall Newhouse moving from right tackle to left tackle and rookie Derek Sherrod at right tackle.
Newhouse praise: Newhouse looked pretty solid at left tackle, but don't take it from me. Here's what ESPN analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth tweeted during the game: " Newhouse is gonna be a star in this league at tackle I can't tell you how hard it is to switch from RT to LT and not skip a beat!"
Defensive shutdown: The Falcons rolled up 140 yards on their first two possessions, both of which ended in touchdowns. The Packers defense held them to 111 yards the rest of the way, and safety Charlie Peprah ended the Falcons' only legitimate scoring threat with an interception at the Packers' 14-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. They only sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan once, but they unofficially hit him seven times and clearly knocked him off his rhythm in the second quarter and beyond.
RodgersWatch: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished with 396 yards, bringing his two-week total to 804. He tied a Packers record by completing a pass to 12 different receivers. Only one skill-position player who was active for the game didn't catch a pass: Fourth-string tight end Ryan Taylor. We'll give him a pass.
JonesWatch: Receiver James Jones entered the game with nine catches for 88 yards. He complained briefly about his role in the offense but wisely waited his turn. His five-catch, 140-yard performance included a 70-yard touchdown. But I thought his best play came in the fourth quarter, when he made sure to stay in bounds near the sideline at the end of a 21-yard play.
FinleyWatch: Tight end Jermichael Finley had an odd night, dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter and also a third-down opportunity in the third quarter. Finley failed to come up with a catchable two-point conversion pass as well. But his final catch, a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter, converted a third down and was critical in the Packers' efforts to run out the clock.
CrosbyWatch: Let's not forget that place-kicker Mason Crosby tied his franchise record with a 56-yard field goal on the Packers' second possession of the second half. The kick made the score 14-9. Had he missed it, the Falcons would have held their 14-6 lead while taking over near midfield.
What's next: The Packers will host the winless St. Louis Rams next Sunday at Lambeau Field. Six and oh, anybody?