Falcons vs. Packers: Takeaways from Green Bay's 22-21 Win over Atlanta
This game was a tale of two halves. The Falcons took a 21-10 lead into halftime, but the Packers outscored Atlanta 12-0 in the second half to walk away with a 22-21 win.
The win also kept Green Bay's playoff hopes alive for another week. Let's take a look at some other takeaways from their 22-21 win over Atlanta.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
A Solid Game for Matt Flynn
Could quarterback Matt Flynn have played better on Sunday? Sure, especially in the first half.
However, Flynn was surprisingly solid in the second half as he led the Green Bay Packers to three scoring drives and the final 12 points of the game. Flynn finished the game with a total 258 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception.
That interception resulted in a touchdown for the Atlanta Falcons, but it was a fluke pass that bounced off a foot before landing in the arms of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel had this to say about Flynn after the game:
After one month of mostly porous quarterback play, give this accolade to Flynn. He was far from Aaron Rodgers, far from perfect. The home crowd booed him at times. But in frigid conditions, he effectively moved the offense downfield all day.
Overall, Flynn played a solid game and was a key part in Green Bay winning this week. With that said, it would still be nice to get Aaron Rodgers back next week.
The Offensive Rookie of the Year Should Be Eddie Lacy
Not only has running back Eddie Lacy been the best overall offensive rookie this year, but he's also been the most important offensive rookie to his team for the season.
While Lacy didn't have the most productive of games, he did exactly what the Packers needed him to do. He picked up first downs, ran hard and played the same type of solid football he's played all season long.
Lacy finished the game with 65 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards and a touchdown. With an ankle injury hindering him in the second half, Lacy still made a number of key plays for the Packers in the third and fourth quarter.
There may be others who have a chance to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award this season, but after another dominant performance from Lacy it should be his to win.
Andrew Quarless Finally Makes an Impact
The Green Bay Packers haven't gotten solid production out of the tight end position since Jermichael Finley was injured. However, that all changed on Sunday.
This week, it was tight end Andrew Quarless who stepped up in a huge way for the Packers. He finished the game with a team-high six receptions to go along with 66 receiving yards. His fourth-quarter touchdown also proved to be the game-winning score.
If Quarless can continue to play like this for the remainder of the season, he'll add another dimension to this Packers offense that has been missing for the majority of the season.
The Offensive Line Continues to Struggle
Let's start by saying that the offensive line played much better in the second half. However, this unit still has a ways to go before they will be considered a solid line.
Heading into this game, the Atlanta Falcons had only recorded an NFL-low 22 sacks on the year. That's an average of less than two sacks a game. However, the Falcons got five sacks in this game.
That's a ton of sacks for quarterback Matt Flynn to take, and an even scarier number of sacks if you think about a semi-healthy Aaron Rodgers sitting in the pocket. Simply put, the offensive line needs to improve in a huge way over the final three weeks.
Defense Finally Looks Good...in the Second Half
It took 30 minutes, but the Green Bay Packers finally played some defense.
They held the Atlanta Falcons scoreless in the second half after allowing 14 points in the first half. The defensive line was able to push back the Falcons' offensive line and create pressure on opposing quarterback Matt Flynn.
Even the run defense stepped up and played solid football in this game. The second half proved that this defense can still be one of the better units in the league.
However, to do that they'll need to play 60 minutes of solid football. If they can do that on a consistent basis, the sky is the limit for the Packers.
The Secondary, However, Continued to Struggle
We should have prefaced in the last slide that almost all of the defense played well in Week 14. The unit that struggled the most was the secondary.
The play of the cornerbacks and safeties for the Green Bay Packers continues to be a major issue. This week, they allowed 206 passing yards and two touchdowns. In fact, they almost lost the game for the Packers in the final minute by allowing two huge receptions.
Was this performance as bad as we've seen in recent weeks from the secondary? Absolutely not.
However, this group still has a ways to go before it can be counted on for Green Bay.
Jarrett Bush=Savior for the Defense
The last person you'd ever think would be crucial to winning a game defensively for the Green Bay Packers would be cornerback Jarrett Bush. He's mostly known for his play on special teams and rarely makes an impact when he's forced onto the field on the defensive side of the ball.
However, in this week's game, Bush was the savior of the defense. His first big play came on fourth down when he was covering tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons. Bush played great defense and forced an incomplete pass against one of the best tight ends in the history of football.
Bush's play remained solid as he picked off quarterback Matt Ryan with only four seconds remaining in the game to seal the win for Green Bay. As good as Bush was for the Packers, it's still pretty bad news when he's the best player in the secondary on a Sunday afternoon.
Packers' Playoff Hopes Remain Alive for Another Week
The biggest news from this win was that the Green Bay Packers still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. In fact, they have a pretty darn good chance to make the playoffs.
That's due to the fact that the Detroit Lions lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in a rather snowy game. That dropped the Lions to a record of 7-6, and now the Packers are only half a game behind the Lions in the NFC North.
Head coach Mike McCarthy was especially thrilled about this week's win, calling it an "excellent win" and a "character win" via Drew Olson of ESPN. Those are the types of wins the Packers will need for the remainder of the season, especially if quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to struggle to get healthy.
While this season hasn't been the best in recent years for the Packers, it's rather unbelievable that there is still a chance for them to make the playoffs. And as we all know too well, once a team makes the playoffs anything can happen.