It's Sunday Night Football, the Falcons' second prime time appearance of the year, and they'll be hosting the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers for the third time in two years. I bet it made your day when you realized you'd get to hear Cris Collinsworth for a second time this year. Insight!
As we get under way in the Georgia Dome, the Falcons will begin the game already one man short on defense. After showing up on the team's injury report Friday afternoon with a hip injury, John Abraham was declared a gameday inactive and will not play tonight. The Falcons will need a really big game out of Kroy Biermann and/or Ray Edwards if they want a shot at containing Aaron Rodgers. I'm not holding my breath.
The Falcons got started in very typical fashion: a heavy dose of Michael Turner. And boy, did Turner look like he got his pop back. On his first few carries, he was really busting up the Packers. Later in the drive, he would bust right out of a Charles Woodson tackle for a 15-yard gain.
After zero targets last week, the Falcons would finally get Harry Douglas involved in the offense. Matt Ryan would look his way on third down, and HD turned a short completion into a nifty catch and run good for 13 yards and a first. And then the unthinkable happened: the Falcons ran a reverse, and it actually worked! The Falcons would flip to Julio Jones, who would bust out for a 17-yard gain.
Not long afterwards, the Falcons would get into the end zone on a five-yard TD pass to a wide-open Roddy White. My only question: Where has this been all year? I'll give Mike Mularkey credit: his playcalling on that opening drive was flawless. Turner got some good blocking, Ryan completed four-of-six on the drive, and almost everyone on the offense contributed in some way. Can we please continue this?
The defense didn't start out quite as well. Unless your name is Brent Grimes, that is. The Packers began just how you might expect: Aaron Rodgers was having his way with the Atlanta defense. But one play after knocking away a pass intended for Jordy Nelson, Grimes put his helmet right on Ryan Grant and forced him to fumble the ball. Atlanta recovered, and are now in good position to extend their lead in this game.
As the first quarter comes to a close, the Falcons currently have the ball at the Green Bay 26 after Ryan hooked up with Jason Snelling and Julio Jones for 17 yards each. The only bad news is that starter Garrett Reynolds was shaken up, and his return is questionable. Brett Romberg will take his place.
The turnover was great, but I still can't emphasize the impact that seven-minute scoring drive will have on this game. The Falcons have started this game exactly how they wanted to, so here's hoping they can continue.