Nov. 05, 2016
Green Bay allowed a touchdown to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds left and the Packers fell to the Atlanta Falcons 33-32 at the Georgia Dome. Despite the loss, I am more confident about the team moving forward. The Falcons have the No. 1 scoring offense in the league and the Packers were without their top three cornerbacks and Clay Matthews. Couple that with the fact that Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb were also out, so many Green Bay fans were fearing the worst. But the Packers had the lead at the half and for most of the game before the touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Sanu in the final minute to give the Dirty Birds the win. With the loss, Green Bay fell to 4-3 with a virtual must-win game on the horizon next week at Lambeau Field against the 3-5 Indianapolis Colts.
In a devastating loss, there were plenty of positives. First of all, it’s hard not to be impressed with this team considering all the injuries. Green Bay had nearly double digit injuries in terms of key players, but the Packers kept it close and had a late lead after Jeff Janis scored with four minutes remaining. The Green Bay offense was severely depleted, but Aaron Rodgers still threw four touchdown passes and led the Packers to 32 points. Normally, 32 points would win a game, but the defense was even worse off than the offense injury-wise. Like I said earlier, I was afraid Green Bay was going to get blown out, but somehow the team almost defeated the leaders of the NFC South. Yes, it was a loss, but it helps the Packers in future games knowing they have solid weapons in Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison.
This goes along with the paragraph above, but some of the reserves stepped up big time. Davis and Allison combined for five catches for 45 yards and each had a touchdown reception. LaDarius Gunter played well against Julio Jones, but for as good of a game as he had, he dropped a pick six that would have sealed the victory on Atlanta’s game-wining drive. Aaron Ripkowski is not a reserve, but he had a bigger role in the run game than normal. He carried the ball six times for 34 yards and was always carrying defenders for a few extra yards after people thought he was down.
It seems like Green Bay’s offense cannot put together a full game. Rodgers and the offense loked fantastic in the first half, scoring 24 points. Rodgers was 17-of-21 for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, but he and the offense sputtered in the second half. In the second half, the Packers quarterback was 11-of-17 for just 76 yards and a touchdown. It happened last week against Chicago when the Packers came alive in the second half after a horrible start. Same thing occurred against Detroit. It did not cost them in those two games, but you knew it would bite them against good teams.
The offensive line play was, quite simply, not good. They were giving up consistent pass rush against a three-man rush. The unit gave up three sacks in this one, and each time was at a critical point. The run blocking was also not good against the Dirty Birds. If you were to just look at the box score, it would indicate that Green Bay ran the ball well. The Packers ran the ball we 19 times for 108 yards. However, Rodgers carried the ball six times after not finding an open receiver and running with it. He gained 60 yards on those runs. If that was taken away, the Green and Gold carried the ball 13 times for just 48 yards for just 3.7 yards per carry.
The biggest thing for the Packers this week is to get healthy. I would imagine most of the guys who did not play in Atlanta will play this Sunday against the Colts. Green Bay will still be without its top two cornerbacks, but No. 3 cornerback Quinten Rollins should be back. I think this game could be a game that the Packers can build upon. If you would have told me the Packers would be leading in the closing minutes knowing that the Green and Gold were missing a number of key players, I would have been thrilled. Green Bay’s offense needs to play like it did in the first half next week since Indianapolis also has a poor defense, so the Packers should be able to take advantage.