The Atlanta Falcons take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the Georgia Dome. Here are photos from the game.
Sanu, Defense Seal the Deal:Down six points with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth, Matt Ryan led the Falcons on an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped by a Mohamed Sanu touchdown catch. Matt Bryant tacked on the extra point to give the Falcons the lead with 31 seconds left, and Atlanta's D clinched the victory by forcing Green Bay's offense to turn it over on downs.
Sanu turned in a good week of practice, Ryan said, and that work helped him get his team widen its lead atop the NFC South.
"Really, Sanu was on point in a number of ways today," head coach Dan Quinn said. "He caught some screens, the crossing routes that he had, some first downs. I thought it was one of Mo's best performances here as a Falcon this year."
Rodgers, Ryan Shine: Aaron Rodgers looked like his vintage self in Atlanta, completing 28 of 28 passes for 246 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also added 60 rushing yards and, with a chance to give the Packers a six-point lead, converted on a two-point conversion attempt by running into the end zone.
Ryan was impressive, too, connecting on 28 of 35 attempts for 288 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. The game-winning drive he authored was the 33rd of his career — the fifth-most among active quarterbacks.
"Can't nobody, in those last two minutes of a game, when we go two-minute turbo, move the ball like Matt Ryan," Julio Jones said. "He does a great job with it, going out there finding guys that are open, not forcing anything and moving the ball."
Gabriel Comes Through: Taylor Gabriel used his vertical speed to make one of the game's biggest highlights: a 47-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. The 25-year-old finished with three catches for 68 yards, by far his best output as a Falcon.
According to Quinn, Atlanta has been spending a lot of time practicing deep throws, and Gabriel, who reportedly ran a 4.27-second 40 at his pro day, put himself in the right position to make an explosive play.
"That was a great route," Ryan said. "His patience at the top of the route to keep the defender on the outside made the play. And I just tried to give him an opportunity to make a play on the ball. That's what he brings to our team. I think that's why he was a huge addition to us at the end of the preseason. To add him, he's a great player."
RBs Respond to Big Challenge: Prior to Sunday's contest, Green Bay's defense had allowed just 71.8 rushing yards per game, the lowest rate in the league. Atlanta surpassed that average despite Tevin Coleman's absence, gaining 90 yards on the ground on 19 carries. Terron Ward, signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, did an admirable job filling in for Coleman, notching a team-high 46 rushing yards on six carries — a 7.67 average.
"We were proud of Terron. We knew he would step through," Quinn said. "We knew if his number was called, he would be ready. We have a lot of faith in him. He's short, but he is not small. So he knows how to lower his shoulder when the appropriate time comes. He's a great competitor and he came through exactly like we thought."
Pass Rush Continues to Develop: The Falcons tallied three sacks against Green Bay — one from Vic Beasley Jr., two from Adrian Clayborn. By dragging Rodgers to the turf for the second time, Clayborn put together the first multi-sack game of his career.
"I'd say he had one of his better practice weeks this week. You can see he's really starting to hit his stride, both at defensive tackle and defensive end," Quinn said about Clayborn. "He looks healthy; he was very quick off the ball today. He's one of our best competitors on the defensive line as far as that goes. We were proud of his effort."
The Falcons hit the halfway point of the season with 19 sacks, the same total racked up in the entire 2015 campaign.