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After a magical season that saw the Atlanta Falcons win 13 games, the NFC South and clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, the terrific ride came to an end in the Georgia Dome Saturday night. The Falcons were ambushed by the Green Bay Packers, 48-21, in the NFC divisional playoffs behind a near-perfect passing performance from Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers finished 31-of-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He also added a rushing touchdown for good measure. The 31 completions was a Packer playoff record and the 366 yards passing was the second-highest total ever from a Green Bay passer in the playoffs. The record is 423 held by Rodgers himself.
With a career-year from Roddy White, the re-emergence of John Abraham, and the bend-but-don’t-break defense, the Falcons were in a position to write their own ending to this fairy tale season. The Packers, however, played the role of the villian.
The game started out as most Falcons games this season. Atlanta scored first by forcing an early turnover and they led 7-0. After the Packers tied the game, Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff to put the Falcons ahead 14-7 in the second quarter. It was all going according to plan. The Falcons, though, wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter. The Packers reeled off 35 unanswered points en route to setting a franchise record for points scored in the playoffs.
This is the bad news portion of our recap. Skip ahead if you want to forget this loss as quickly as possible. The 27-point defeat was the worst loss in Falcons playoff history and the worst overall loss since the Falcons lost 34-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2009 regular season. The 194 yards gained offensively was the lowest by the Falcons in the Mike Smith era and the worst since a December 2007 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The three turnovers by the Falcons were the most they had in any game dating back to Week 17 of the 2009 season.
Up next for the Packers is the Seattle Seahawks-Chicago Bears winner. Up next for the Falcons is a long off-season where they’ll need to make tough decisions about free agents and the draft and that’s if there’s a season at all.
The Green Bay Packers added to their lead with a 43-yard field goal from Mason Crosby and are up on the Atlanta Falcons, 45-21 in the fourth quarter. Crosby had missed a 50-yard attempt moments earlier but the Falcons turned the ball over for the third time giving the Packers excellent field position. On the turnover, Matt Ryan appeared to try a quarterback sneak but the offensive line was all pass blocking and Ryan’s handle on the ball was lost.
The Packers have 27 first downs to only 15 for the Falcons and have gained 424 yards to only 191 for Atlanta. This is not the way the Falcons envisioned this game but it’s been a Murphy’s Law situation with everything that could go wrong, going wrong.
It’s also a sad day for Tony Gonzalez who’s playoff winless streak continues.
The Atlanta Falcons cut the Green Bay Packers lead to 42-21 but still have a lot of work to do in the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional playoff game. The scoring drive took seven plays and 73 yards and finished with Matt Ryan finding Roddy White for a six-yard touchdown.
The score breaks the Packers run of 35 unanswered points and gives the Falcons a little life in the fourth quarter. Ryan is 16-for-22 for 170 yards and one touchdown passing but has thrown two interceptions.
Michael Turner has rushed for only 39 yards on 10 carries and hasn’t been a huge part of the gameplan since falling behind in the second quarter. Michael Jenkins leads all Falcons receivers with three catches for 57 yards.
The Falcons attempted an onside kick after their touchdown and receovered it but the Packers gained possession because of an illegal touching penalty by Brian Finneran.
The Green Bay Packers have all but punched their ticket to the NFC championship game, leading the Atlanta Falcons 42-14 in the third quarter. The Packers have scored 35 unanswered points with the latest a seven-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers (his third) to John Kuhn (his second).
The Falcons won 13 games in the regular season including a 20-17 victory over the Packers Nov. 28 but nothing has gone right for them in what is turning out to be one of the worst losses in franchise history.
Rodgers has thrown for 330 yards and three touchdowns and has another touchdown on the ground. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to find his way going 9-for-15 for 87 yards and two interceptions.
With Michael Turner now effectively out of the gameplan, the Falcons will need a lot of big plays, something they haven’t been able to do much of during the season.
The Atlanta Falcons were the NFC’s best team all year long but their season is suddenly in jeopardy trailing the Green Bay Packers, 35-14, in the third quarter. The Packers have scored 28 unanswered points and have been dominant in all aspects of the game. The Falcons, normally a sound football team, have turned it over twice and their offense has managed only one touchdown.
It’s really a make-or-break drive for the Falcons now since they’ll need to score a touchdown every time they touch the ball unless they can force some turnovers. We saw how a team can overcome a 14-point halftime deficit to win earlier today when the Pittsburgh Steelers did it to the Baltimore Ravens but the last touchdown by the Packers makes that less feasible now.
The Falcons have been resilient all year long and now we’ll see if they some of that magic left.
The Green Bay Packers scored 28 points in the second quarter and lead the Atlanta Falcons, 28-14, in the NFC divisional playoffs. After Aaron Rodgers gave the Packers their first lead against the Falcons in six quarters (they never led in their Nov. 28 meeting), the Falcons moved into field goal range with seconds remaining in the half. Matt Ryan tried to force a ball to Roddy White but was picked off by Traman Williams for the second time and Williams returned it for a 70-yard touchdown, putting the Packers in control.
The Packers have amassed 268 total yards and 16 first downs in the first half. The Falcons have managed only 106 yards. In fact, the Falcons are on pace for the lowest offensive yards output since Mike Smith took over as head coach in 2008. Their previous low was 215 against the New Orleans Saints Dec. 27, 2010.
Aaron Rodgers is 18-for-21 for 234 yards and two scores and has found Greg Jennings six times for 88 yards. Neither ground game has been effective with the Packers gaining 34 yards and the Falcons putting up 39.
The Falcons are 0-3 when they trail by 14 or more points at halftime under head coach Mike Smith. Their only time this season they trailed by 14 at the half was against the Philadelphia Eagles in a 31-17 loss.
I leave you with this: The last time the Falcons overcame a 14-point halftime deficit was in 1991. They came back to beat the … Green Bay Packers 35-31. I’m just saying.
The Green Bay Packers have pulled even with the Atlanta Falcons for the second time today with a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive bringing the score to 14-all. The Falcons appeared to stop the Packers offense when Jonathan Babineaux sacked Aaron Rodgers on 3rd-and-3 which should have led to a field goal attempt but an illegal contact penalty on Christopher Owens gave the Packers an automatic first down. After a run by James Starks, Owens was called for his second illegal contact penalty giving the Packers another 1st-and-goal which the Packers capitalized on with a one-yard touchdown run by John Kuhn.
Owens is playing for an injured Brian Williams and is not off to a good start. He’s been burned twice on pass plays and the two illegal contact penalties gave the Packers more chances than they should have had. Now, it’s Atlanta’s turn to answer.
After the Atlanta Falcons scored the game’s first points to go up 7-0, the Green Bay Packers answered with a Falcon-like drive of their own. It covered 81 yards in 13 plays and ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson to tie the game at seven apiece.
The Packers ground game, which had received so much attention last week, has managed only 25 yards. It’s been the annoyingly-consistent Aaron Rodgers who’s done the majority of the damage. He’s 8-for-9 for 78 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Greg Jennings leads all receivers with three catches for 50 yards but did have a fumble that led to the Falcons earlier score.
And as I’m typing this the Falcons have regained the lead on a 72-yard kick return for a touchdown courtesy of Eric Weems. The Falcons now lead 14-7 in the second quarter.
Michael Turner’s 12-yard touchdown run has put the Falcons up 7-0 on the Packers in the NFC divisional playoffs. The run, a pinball-spinning run that saw Turner get pushed into the endzone with help of his offensive line, capped a seven-play drive that covered 48 yards. The drive began when Packers’ wide receiver, Greg Jennings, fumbled at the end of a 30-yard catch-and-run. Stephen Nicholas caused the fumble and Brent Grimes recovered it giving the Falcons the ball in Packer territory.
A huge 22-yard completion to Michael Jenkins brought the Falcons close to the red zone but a 12-yard completion to Roddy White on 3rd-and-13 appeared to stall the drive. I said “appeared” because Mike Smith is not intimidated by fourth downs as evidenced by the NFL-best 11-for-15 conversion rate the Falcons have had this year. On 4th-and-1, Ovie Mughelli cashed in with the first down and moments later, Turner bounced into the end zone.
Green Bay Packers fans at Acme Packing Company are feeling confident heading into tonight’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. They’re not entirely afraid of Atlanta’s offense, noting the lessened production the Birds have enjoyed in the latter part of the regular season. The Falcons defense seems to draw more concern, though its inconsistency against bad teams looks like a sign of weakness to the Packers fan’s eyes.
As The Falcoholic discusses, Atlanta’s mission is simple, if damn near impossible: stop Aaron Rodgers. Sure, Matt Ryan will have to play smart and Michael Turner will need to get going, but we’ve seen no evidence that this team can win a shootout against a quarterback like Rodgers. So the idea is to avoid one.
Packers fans aren’t concerned about the yardage battle, but about the stuff the Falcons are really good at. The Birds hoard the ball, don’t give up big plays, and play great special teams. The Georgia Dome should be absolutely rocking tonight, too, but APC isn’t all that worried about that.
Teams have used the "no respect" mantra since the beginning of sport. It empowers them. Us against the World, nobody believes in us. These are the battle crys that have led to many a championship and the Atlanta Falcons can play that card more than any other team remaining in the playoffs. They are the No. 1 seed and playing at home where they are 20-4 since 2008. They beat the Green Bay Packers just seven weeks ago yet they are merely a 2..5 point favorite. It's widely considered that home teams get three points in Vegas so they are saying the Packers are a better team. It's happened all season for the Falcons but 13 wins later, here they are. How do the experts think they'll do this Saturday?
|CBS Sports||Falcons||Only Dave Richard is picking the Packers against the other four experts who like the Falcons.|
|Fanhouse||Falcons||Chris Burke: You can expect this to go down to the wire -- but let's give a slight edge to Atlanta, if only because of home-field advantage. Falcons 24, Packers 21|
|What If Sports||Packers||The Packers won over 53 percent of the simulations with an average score of 22-20.|
|Sports Illustrated||Packers||Peter King: Packers 24, Falcons 21. This will be a close game throughout, and Atlanta has a huge edge in conditioning, playing at home with 13 days' rest against a team on the road for the second straight week on a short week. I just like the difference Starks can make in the balance between two close teams.|
|USA Today||Split||It's a hung jury at USA Today with four experts picking the Falcons and four others picking the Packers.|
|Sporting News||Split||It's a 2-2 split though three experts have yet to make their selections.|
|Arrowhead Pride||Packers||Joel Thorman: Atlanta is a two point favorite but I'm taking Green Bay and their offense. I think Rodgers outperforms Matt Ryan and Green Bay moves on.|
It's close. It's very close but the experts have given the Falcons an 11 to 10 advantage. Can they still play the "no respect" card? Of course they can. They are the No. 1 seed hosting the No. 6 seed at home and the experts are almost evenly split. This game will likely be overshadowed by the higher-profile AFC games but that works for Atlanta. The experts keep picking against them and they'll keep winning.
The Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers in Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game with the winner headed to the NFC championship. So who's going to win? If I knew that I'd be sitting on the beach in St. Barts instead of writing this column but I can give you a few things to look for that could signal when a Falcons win is near.
The Falcons will definitely win if:
The Falcons have a great chance to win if:
The Falcons might win if:
There you have it. Keep an eye on these various milestones and you may know who will win the game before the final buzzer sounds.
The Atlanta Falcons will meet the Green Bay Packers in one-half of the NFC divisional playoffs and they may be down one of the members in their secondary. Brian Williams did not participate in practice and D. Orlando Ledbetter said he was seen at practice wearing a knee brace. If he can't play his customary nickel back role, Christopher Owens would get the nod.
In many circles during the preseason, Owens was projected to win the starting cornerback job across from Dunta Robinson. It never materialized and we certainly aren't looking back now that we have Brent Grimes but Owens is a talented player so if Williams is unable to suit up, the drop-off will be negligible. Dave Choate of The Falcoholic liked Owens a lot in April even saying, "Out of all the cornerbacks on the roster, I have the most faith in Chris Owens." By the way, if you came here from The Falcoholic, thank you. However, if you landed here via the Google/Bing/Yahoo machine, your next stop should definitely be the best Falcons community on the web, The Falcoholic. The rest of the report is a whole lot of limited but nothing that would cause concern for Saturday.
Injury reports via the official site:
DE John Abraham (groin)
DT Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder)
S Thomas DeCoud (unknown)
LB Curtis Lofton (knee)
C Todd McClure (ankle)
WR Roddy White (knee)
Did Not Practice
CB Brian Williams (knee)
S Atari Bigby (groin)
T Bryan Bulaga (shoulder)
T Chad Clifton (knees)
FB Korey Hall (knee)
DE Cullen Jenkins (calf)
LB Clay Matthews (shin)
DE Ryan Pickett (ankle)
Did Not Practice
C/G Jason Spitz (calf)
LB Frank Zombo (knee)
Welcome to the playoff edition of our pre-game, quick hit, stats-apalooza. This is a broad, statistical overview of the current Atlanta Falcons' opponent. This week, it's the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional playoffs. The Packers did the Falcons a favor by dispatching Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles during last week's wild card round and their reward is a 766 mile flight South to the Georgia Dome for the right to play in the NFC championship game. Just seven weeks ago, the Falcons defeated the Packers, 20-17, on a Matt Bryant 47-yard field goal as time expired. Here's round two.
This is the first playoff game for the Falcons since their 30-24 loss to the Super Bowl-bound Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 wild card round. It's also their first home playoff game since a 47-17 whooping of the St. Louis Rams after the 2004 season. The Falcons would lose the following week in the NFC title game, 27-10 to the Eagles. Speaking of playoff games, this is the second time these two teams have met in the postseason but it's the first time they've played in Atlanta. In 1995, the Packers beat the Falcons 37-20 en route to the NFC championship game and again after the 2002 season when the Falcons became the first team to ever beat the Packers in a playoff game played at Lambeau Field.
Crazy Stat Alert: The Packers lost five games this season in which they were tied or held a lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Also, over the past five years, the Falcons have the NFL's best winning percentage when starting the fourth quarter tied or with a lead. They are 37-3 (93 percent). So basically if the Falcons are ahead when the fourth quarter starts, it's over -- Falcons win! Or if the Packers are ahead at the start of the fourth quarter, it's over too -- Falcons win! Not to mention Matt Ryan's home record of 20-2 and you see what I'm getting at here?
SERIES HISTORY:This will be the second meeting between the Falcons and Packers in the Mike Smith era. The Falcons have won both meetings by three points. CLOSE GAME ALERT!
Falcons Vs. Packers
This will be the 27th meeting between the Falcons and Packers all-time dating back to 1966. The series is tied 13 games apiece.
The Falcons record against the Packers (by decade):
Average Score since 2008:
Average Yards since 2008:
Both teams are going to move the ball in this game. The Packers have averaged 355.2 yards of total offense per game this season while the Falcons are putting up 341.1 total yards. Both offenses have been able to turn those yards into points as evidenced by their per game averages; 25.9 for the Falcons, 24.1 for the Packers.
Most Points Scored:
Falcons 47, Nov. 27, 1983
Highlight: In a wild 47-41 shootout, the Falcons defense came up with the game-winning pick six in overtime.
Packers 56, Oct. 23, 1966
Fewest Points Scored:
Falcons, 0, Oct. 1, 1967
Packers 0, Nov. 6, 1988
The Packers' Mike McCarthy is 50-34 as a head coach including a 2-2 record in playoff games. He's also never won two playoff games in the same season, something he'd need to accomplish to beat the Falcons.
Mike Smith is 33-16 as Falcons head coach including an 0-1 playoff record. A victory over the Packers would give Smith his first ever playoff win as a head coach.
Best Individual Performances Against the Packers:
Best Career Numbers Against the Packers:
So the Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers, maybe the NFL’s best young quarterback, and a running game all of a sudden, and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in CB Charles Woodson. They now have the 2010 edition as well, with LB Clay Matthews picking up the Sporting News honor today.
In his second pro season, Matthews collected 13.5 sacks, 54 tackles, and a 62-yard pick six. Matthews was held without a sack in the teams’ first meeting, his first sackless game in four weeks. SN got a quote from Atlanta Falcons DE John Abraham on the occasion:
He still plays with a chip on his shoulder, even though he’s made it to the Pro Bowl. … When he isn’t getting sacks, he’s doing things to cause fumbles. He’s doing a lot, especially for a linebacker.
Troy Polamalu, Cameron Wake, James Harrison, and Julius Peppers rounded out the top five SN voting. Abraham’s top-five sack total puts him in the conversation, but his tackle numbers don’t really stack up against the others.
If the Atlanta Falcons don’t take care of business against the Green Bay Packers — and we’re very loosely using the phrase take care of business, as the Birds are only barely favored — the Seattle Seahawks could host the NFC Championship Game despite entering the playoffs 7-9.
They’re not going to sneak up on the Chicago Bears, having beaten them in the Windy City once and just knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions. But if Matt Hasselbeck is dealin’ like that again, and Jay Cutler has one of his recurring horrible games, and Marshawn Lynch does THAT again, don’t be astounded to see Seattle compete.
If the Seahawks won the NFC Championship, they’d enter the Super Bowl with a winning record, sparing us all the embarrassment of a .500 team winning the title. Can you imagine the line in a Super Bowl between the 17-2 New England Patriots and 10-9 Seahawks?
The last time the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers played, the final score totaled 37 points. Vegas expects a higher number this time around, setting the opening over/under at 45.5, the highest of any NFL playoff game this weekend. It’s moved down to an even 45 by now, which is still almost 10 points higher than the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game.
The Packers have exceeded their 17 points from that game four times in six weeks, while the Falcons have topped their 20 four of five times. The Falcons average 25.9 points per game and the Packers 24.2, while the Falcons allow 18 points per game and the Packers 15. Throwing those numbers together gives us a final score of Packers 21.1, Falcons 20.45, which will probably not be the final score, but it’s definitely under.
Against the Eagles, the Packers played a great game of ball control, limiting the damage Michael Vick could do (though he was able to do a little bit to the Eagles at times). Expect them to be more aggressive in attacking Atlanta’s secondary than they were against Philly.
The Atlanta Falcons are 13-3 with one of the NFL’s best home field advantages, and have already beaten the Green Bay Packers once — but that doesn’t impress Vegas all that much. The opening line for the divisional round NFL playoff matchup in the Georgia Dome was Falcons -1, the narrowest line of the weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers were favored over the Baltimore Ravens by more, and those teams finished with the same record and even beat each other once.
The good people of America, staking their hard-earned wages, have corrected the oversight somewhat, moving the line to Falcons -2.5.
Even before the Packers beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly, there’s been a sentiment that the Pack might be the NFC’s best team. They’ve been picked to reach the Super Bowl more than any No. 6 seed I’ve ever seen. It’s not without merit, of course. They might have the NFC’s best quarterback, they have an excellent defense, and all of their losses were by single scores, with most coming during rough injury spells.
It's a bit of letdown that the Seattle Seahawks won't be gracing the Atlanta Falcons with their presence in Saturday's NFL Playoffs divisional round, but that's just me being greedy. At the end of the day, the two biggest threats to the Falcons hoisting the Lombardi Trophy - and the two teams responsible for two of their losses this year - both played their final games of the season, with the New Orleans Saints losing Saturday and the Philadelphia Eagles falling Sunday. The Falcons remaining NFC competition includes the Chicago Bears, the Seattle Seahawks and their opponent on Saturday, the Green Bay Packers.
In an edge-of-your-seat-we-are-going-to-lose-oh-wait-I-knew-we-were-going-to-win game, the Falcons beat the Packers 20-17 behind a fortuitous special teams penalty and a Matt Bryant field goal. The Packers lost despite outgaining the Falcons 418 to 294, and that was before they found a running game. In their Week 12 meeting, Green Bay players not named Aaron Rodgers managed only 26 yards on the ground, but with the emergence of James Starks (123 yards vs. Philly), the Packers are suddenly multi-dimensional.
By all accounts, this is the toughest game the Falcons will have prior to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks played out of their minds against the Saints - and we thank them for that - but no one believes they could translate that performance into three straight playoff road wins. The Bears are the only other team that could play a game of No Respect poker with the Falcons and actually keep pace, but they'd as well be underdogs in Atlanta.
A home win against the Packers brings the Falcons one step closer to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1998 and would give them their third straight win over the Packers. Much more on this game throughout the week.
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