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.