Packers vs. Falcons: Top 5 Individual Performances

Michael DulkaContributor IOctober 10, 2011

Packers vs. Falcons: Top 5 Individual Performances

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    The Green Bay Packers escaped the Georgia Dome with a 25-14 win against the Atlanta Falcons, overcoming an awful start and a fired-up opponent. After falling behind 14-0, the Packers rallied for 25 unanswered points as the defense tightened and the offense got going. 

    The win keeps the Packers undefeated on the season with a perfect 5-0 record heading into a Week 6 matchup against the St. Louis Rams back at Lambeau Field. The Packers are one of only two unbeaten teams remaining, with the Detroit Lions putting their 4-0 mark on the line tonight against the Bears.

    While the win was definitely a team win, plenty of individuals stepped up and helped the Packers get the job done. 

5. Mason Crosby

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    While the Packers would have preferred touchdowns instead of field goals, it helps when your kicker is knocking everything through the uprights. On the night, Crosby was 4-of-4 on field goals and made the only extra point that he attempted.

    Crosby remained perfect on the season, connecting on all nine of his attempts through the first five games of the season. Against the Falcons, Crosby hit field goals from 30, 32, 35 and 56 yards. The 56-yarder tied a career-high and matched his own record for longest kick in Packers history. 

    There has never been a question about the strength of Crosby's leg, but his accuracy has been an issue throughout his NFL career. He showed he was deserving of the new contract the Packers gave him these season with another strong performance. 

    He has been perfect kicking field goals and extra points, has dominated kickoffs and perfectly executed a surprise onside kick this season. 

4. James Campen, Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod

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    Coming into this game without Bryan Bulaga and losing Chad Clifton early should have been fatal for the Packers, but the play of Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod, behind the coaching of offensive line coach James Campen, was sensational given the circumstances.

    When Clifton went out with a hamstring injury, the rookie Sherrod came in to play right tackle as they moved Newhouse over to left tackle to protect Rodgers' blindside. Initially, the play calling mixed with Rodgers' lack of trust in the unit left the Packers scrambling.

    The two were able to settle down and provided Rodgers with enough time to throw. They were far from perfect, giving up pressures at times, but hung in there just enough to help the Packers escape with a victory. 

    With Clifton potentially out some time with a hamstring injury, the Packers will rely heavily on the pair in their upcoming games. 

3. James Jones

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    Since the Packers re-signed James Jones, many have questioned the Packers' decision to bring him back and often thought the Packers should trade him. The game against the Falcons should silence all those critics as Jones showed what he brings to the table. 

    After a quiet start to his season, Jones showed up in a big way, leading the Packers in receptions and yards. Jones had five catches for 140 yards and a 70-yard touchdown on a pass from Rodgers in the third quarter that gave the Packers their first lead of the night. A beautiful throw from Rodgers hit Jones in stride and his feet did the rest of the work, outpacing the Falcons defense.

    Jones has potential to take any pass he catches to the house and burned the Falcons when given the opportunity. On a night where Rodgers really spread it around, Jones shined the brightest, averaging 28 yards per catch. 

2. Clay Matthews

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    Clay Matthews is still looking for that all-elusive second sack of the season following the game against the Falcons. While it Matthews' game looks quiet unspectacular on the stat sheet, he came up huge for the Packers. 

    On the first series of the game, the Falcons game planned to avoid Matthews and did everything in their power to do so. They ran play-actions, bootlegs and even shovel passes to keep Matthews away from Matt Ryan

    It worked for a while, but Matthews can only be held down for so long. In the second quarter, Matthews burst through the line, forcing the defender to commit a holding penalty to avoid a sack. Later in the game, the Falcons were in field-goal range when a defender was forced to illegally contact Matthews. 

    In both instances, the Falcons' drives were killed, and in the later scenario points were kept off the board. Matthews wasn't credited with sacks, but these types of plays are almost just as good as sacks. 

    Also, Matthews breaking through the Falcons' offensive line caused Ryan to overthrow Tony Gonzalez and the ball was batted and intercepted by Charlie Peprah. For Matthews, the numbers are lying, but the film is not. 

1. Aaron Rodgers

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    Once again, Aaron Rodgers delivered for the Packers with another outstanding performance, further proving he is the best player in the league right now. Since returning from his concussion suffered in Week 15 last season, Rodgers has taken his game to new heights. 

    On the night, Rodgers was 26-of-39 for 396 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the game with a QB rating of 117. Statistically, Rodgers has dominated the competition, throwing for 14 touchdown passes against two interceptions in the first five games of 2011.

    Spreading the ball around was the theme of the game, as Rodgers completed passes to 12 different players. Of the skill position players, Rodgers hit 12 of the 13 players that were active. Rookie tight end Ryan Taylor was the only one that did not catch a pass as he didn't play on offense. Rodgers completed passes to five wide receivers, three running backs, three tight ends and a fullback. 

    Rodgers is playing out of his mind right now and it looks like he is just getting better and better each week. It is quite scary how good Rodgers is becoming and the potential heights that the quarterback could reach. 

Honorable Mention

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    Sam Shields played his most complete game of the season so far and battled well with rookie Julio Jones. He beautifully broke up a late pass from Ryan intended for the single-covered Jones.

    Greg Jennings had another solid game with four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. On the scoring play, Jennings had a ridiculous run after the catch, showing great individual effort as he dove for the pylon from four yards out.

    Charlie Peprah lead the team in tackles with eight combined solo and assisted tackles. He also showed good focus, intercepting a tipped pass from Ryan late in the game.