For two teams that aren’t in the same division, there sure seem to be plenty of memorable moments throughout history between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers.
The two teams will meet for the 34th time, including the playoffs, on Sunday, which will mark the fourth time the Falcons and Packers have played each other over the last two years. Green Bay currently holds a 17-16 lead in the all-time series, but Atlanta has won the last three games and are 7-6 in the 21st century.
Before the Falcons and Packers clash again at Lambeau Field, let’s take a look back at five of the best games between the Cheese Heads and the Dirty Birds.
5. Sept. 8, 2002 – Falcons 34, Packers 37 (OT)
Atlanta began its 2002 season on the road in Green Bay. Michael Vick was entering his second season in the NFL and his first as a full-time starter for the Falcons. He kicked things off with a classic duel against Brett Favre, who was coming off his sixth Pro Bowl season.
The Falcons entered halftime with a 21-13 lead after scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter. After losing the lead in the third quarter, Atlanta managed to force overtime on a 52-yard field goal by Jay Feely with 9 seconds left. The Packers won the game on the third possession of overtime, ending it with a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell.
Vick threw for 209 yards and a touchdown while running for 72 yards and another score. As a team, the Falcons ran for 180 yards and three scores.
They said it: “It was a great debut for me and for the organization. We wanted to come out and show we’re one of the top teams in the league this year.” – Michael Vick
4. Nov. 27, 1983 – Packers 41, Falcons 47 (OT)
The NFL recently may have entered into the golden age of offense and point-scoring, but the Falcons and Packers gave viewers this year’s Rams-Chiefs game all the way back in 1983. The two teams combined for 88 points and 945 yards three years before Rams head coach Sean McVay was even born.
In that game, Green Bay jumped out to a 21-0 lead at Fulton County Stadium before Atlanta rallied back to trail 24-21 heading into halftime. The second half was mostly back and forth with the Packers erasing the Falcons 41-34 late lead with a 4-yard touchdown run. In overtime, the Falcons won the game on a 31-yard interception return by Kenny Johnson, who had returned another interception for a touchdown to give Atlanta the lead in the fourth quarter.
Mike Moroski threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, and William Andrews led the way on the ground with 129 yards and two scores on 20 carries. The Falcons intercepted the ball three times that day, including the two pick-sixes by Johnson.
They said it: “We couldn’t stop them, and it just became a scoring marathon.” – Former Packers coach Bart Starr
3. Dec. 8, 2014 – Falcons 37, Packers 43
The last time the Falcons traveled up to Lambeau Field a shootout occurred on a snowy Monday night with the nation watching. Led by eventual NFL MVP, the Packers entered that game with a 9-3 record but had to fend off a furious second-half rally by the Falcons to avoid their fourth loss.
Green Bay held a commanding 31-7 lead at halftime, but Julio Jones made his case as the NFL’s top receiver on primetime television in the second half. Jones caught six passes for 159 yards and a touchdown after halftime to help Atlanta score 30 points in the second half. The Falcons ultimately fell short, but not for lack of effort.
Jones finished with 259 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, earning his first of three 250-plus yard performance. Matt Ryan went toe-to-toe with Rodgers, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns, while the eventual MVP threw for 327 yards and three scores.
They said it: "When Julio is healthy, and he and Matt are in tune with one another, they're as good as any in the NFL; he's a good as any in the NFL. He's hard to cover. He's got great speed. He's got great hands. And he's an elite wide receiver. One of the best, if not the best, in the NFL." – Former Falcons coach Mike Smith
2. Oct. 30, 2016 – Packers 32, Falcons 33
This is a game most Falcons fans probably remember pretty clearly. After a 4-1 start, the Falcons had lost two straight heading into a Week 8 matchup with the Packers that seemed like a crossroads of sorts for the season.
As most of these games usually are, especially when Ryan and Rodgers are on the field, neither team built a commanding lead. Green Bay silenced the Georgia Dome crowd with a 7-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter and the 2-point conversion gave the Packers a 32-26 lead. Ryan led the Falcons on a final drive before finding Mohamed Sanu for an 11-yard touchdown pass with just over 30 seconds remaining to clinch the 33-32 victory.
Rodgers and Ryan had another classic duel. Ryan, the eventual MVP, threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, while Rodgers passed for 246 yards and four scores. Sanu had one of his best days as a Falcons, catching nine passes for 84 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
They said it: "We've got the greatest receiver in the NFL, but we've got other great guys in that room, too. When our number is called upon, we went out there to do what we do." – Mohamed Sanu
1. Jan. 4, 2003 – Falcons 27, Packers 7
The 2002 NFL season – and this list – began with a matchup between the Falcons and the Packers at Lambeau Field, but that was not the only time the two teams met that season. Atlanta snuck into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the NFC and was set to travel to Green Bay, where no visiting team had ever won in the postseason, in the first round.
In many ways, this game is where Vick cemented himself as a star in the NFL, at least in the minds of fans outside of Atlanta. Vick only threw for 117 yards and a touchdown, but he made several spectacular plays with his legs and ran for 64 yards on 10 carries. The Falcons’ defense shut down the Packers’ high-scoring offense and forced five turnovers in the game.
On this night, Atlanta did what 13 teams had previously failed to do: Walk into the Frozen Tundra for a playoff game and leave with a victory.
They said it: “That was the thing we talked about all week – their winning streak in the playoffs. One day it had to come to an end. Why not let us be the team to do it?” – Michael Vick