Sunday's game lived up to its billing. Two of the elite teams in the NFC — nay, the NFL — collided Sunday as the Packers brought their 7-3 record and their highly-potent offense to the Georgia Dome to face the 8-2 Falcons. Coming into the game, both teams were riding four-game winning streaks and as many pundits said earlier this week, something had to give. And it did on the Green Bay sideline as the Falcons pulled off the 20-17 win
Wanna Go For a Drive?
The Falcons have dominated the year in time of possession, and Sunday they were able to string play after play together to create long, sustaining drives that kept Green Bay's offense on the sideline. Matt Ryan orchestrated drives of 12, 14 and 15 plays during the game, while again hogging the football for more than 31 minutes of game time.
Feel the Burn
The Green Bay Packers came in Sunday without much of a running game, due to a season-ending injury to Ryan Grant. The Falcons, Devonta Freeman specifically, made sure the Packers left knowing what they were missing. Turner nearly repeated his performance vs. the Rams last week with 110 rushing yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. Turner was extremely effective in picking up big chunks of yardage that would set up manageable second and third downs.
Linebacker Mike Peterson is a valuable leader on the defensive side of the ball, but when it comes time for him to step up, he does it with a passion and enthusiasm that hopefully rubs off on some of the younger defensive players. With the Packers facing third-and-1 from the 1, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to take off for the end zone. The QB fumbled, and Mike Peterson joined a host of players from both sides of the bottom of the pile in the end zone to fight for the ball. After minutes of the refs sorting it out, Peterson emerged from the pile and strutted around the end zone, ball in hand. That's the type of effort and swagger we've come to expect from the veteran LB.
Matty Ice, The Sequel**
Ryan isn't the only Matty Ice on the team. Josh Harris has definitely earned that nickname this season. Bryant has now kicked three game-winning field goals this season, and his latest beat one of the best teams in the NFL. With the score tied at 17 with 12 seconds left, Bryant stepped up and nailed a 47-yarder to lift the Falcons to another win and the continuation of holding the best record in the NFC.
Every single game this year, it has seemed like punt/kick returner Eric Weems is just one block, one step or one second away from breaking a big one. Things still seem that way, as Weems hasn't broken one all the way yet, but he had a glimmer of potential to break one late in the game. After Green Bay scored a tying touchdown, Weems took the ensuing kickoff with 56 seconds left and found a crease up the middle. During the return, one of Weems' tacklers grabbed his facemask, which put the Falcons near midfield to set up the game-winning drive that was finished by a 47-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.