Gutsy Win Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive
Offensively the Packers stuttered throughout in the snowy conditions at Lambeau Field. But quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards with a touchdown, Mason Crosby kicked went 3/3 on field goals and the defense stepped up when they were needed most, helping the team stage a comeback and reclaim a .500 record.
“We knew going on we needed to win this game and we needed help. But we weren’t scoreboard watching,” said Flynn. “When we had to have the stop, we got the stops. When we had to score, we scored.”
Green Bay’s offense looked to be in control early. Firing on all cylinders, the team orchastrated an 18 play drive lasting over nine minutes in the first quarter gave the Packers a 7-0 lead.
Flynn looked sharp in his first home game as a starter, (since the infamous ‘six touchdown game’) spreading the field and moving the Packers into the red zone. Running back Eddie Lacy would spin his way in for his sixth score of the year at the one yard line, tying the franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a rookie running back.
Atlanta answered right back though, marching down the field without much hesitation, tying the game up at 7-7 after a magnificent 36 yard reception by receiver Drew Davis, who ran straight through the Packers’ secondary.
Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez then followed up Davis’ performance soon after with a touchdown of his own, giving Atlanta the lead. The Packers tried to retaliate but despite a Crosby 40 yard field goal in the tricky conditions, things would only get worse for the home side.
Matt Flynn once again drove the Packers down the field with time running down in the half, but was picked off after a batted pass bounced off a foot and into the hands of Shaun Weatherspoon, who returned the interception 71 yards for a touchdown, giving the Packers an 11 point defect going into the locker room.
It would be the Packers’ defense who would step up big in the remaining 30 minutes however. By forcing a Matt Ryan fumble, two punts, two missed field goals and two turnovers on downs after some masterful coverage by Jarrett Bush, the Falcons offence was held completely scoreless in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Packers kept chipping away at the lead off the leg of Crosby. His leg continued it’s hot streak, even in the freezing freezing temperatures – going 2/2 in the third quarter to make the score 21-17 going into the final 15.
After Neal’s forced fumble, the Packers found themselves at the Atlanta 21 yard line with just under 14 minutes left to play. This spark, seemingly fired up the whole team, as the offense quickly moved the football, with Matt Flynn throwing a perfect arcing pass from the two yard line into the endzone.
It was the much improved Andrew Quarless that caught the go-ahead score. The second string tight end had a very impressive outing – filling in for the injured Jermichael Finley – leading the team with six receptions, a touchdown and a total of 66 yards.
The Falcons had one last chance to win the game with the ball on their own nine yard line with 41 seconds left, but the struggling offense couldn’t seal the deal. Matt Ryan handed the ball back to Green Bay after throwing an interception to Jarrett Bush on a desperate fourth down play, ending the game.
“We needed a win. The work ethic on this team is excellent. We earned it today,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I like our opportunity in Dallas. That’s where my mind is. It’s about stacking success.”
The Packers are now 6-6-1 on the year, third in the NFC North and just half a game back from the division leading Detroit Lions with three games remaining.