With the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints winning on Thanksgiving Day, the pressure was on the Atlanta Falcons to maintain their slim lead in the NFC South. Against Green Bay on Sunday, they did just that; beating the Packers on a last-second field goal, 20-17, to improve to 9-2.
Matt Ryan completed 24 of 28 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown. He was efficient working underneath as the Packers did not let the Falcons’ receivers go deep. Michael Turner was his usual dominant self gaining 110 yards on 23 carries and scoring on a fourth-and-goal from the one. Roddy White was held to five catches for only 49 yards but Tony Gonzalez picked up the slack with a touchdown and six catches.
The Packers outgained the Falcons, 418 to 294 but it was an Aaron Rodgers’ turnover at the goalline that proved to be the difference in this one. The Packers, tied at three, drove to the one-yard line and appeared in control of the game when Rodgers attempted a quarterback sneak. The ball was knocked loose and Mike Peterson recovered. It was Rodgers’ first fumble all season. The Falcons capitalized with a 14-play, 80-yard drive to go ahead 10-3. They would never relinquish the lead.
The Falcons have now won five straight games, are undefeated at home (6-0) and have the best record in the NFL. That’s the good news. The bad news is they still have to play the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next four weeks and they start a three-game road trip next week in Tampa Bay.
Even at 9-2, the Falcons can’t let up. They’ll likely need to finish with 12 wins to win the division and clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. This is crucial for the Falcons since their 3-2 road record doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. The Falcons have enjoyed four of their last five games in the Georgia Dome but the next three weeks will be their biggest test. Can they continue their high-level of play on the road?