In the final game at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Falcons played like NFC Champions to defeat the Green Bay Packers, 44-21. The Packers season started out slow to begin with, and some in Packers nation even calling for head coach Mike McCarthy to be fired. But, soon, the team picked up steam and made a push for the playoffs.
But the Packers just didn’t show up to play in Atlanta. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sportswriter Bob McGinn writes,
By the fourth quarter, the Packers had throttled down. The Falcons’ final touchdown, a 3-yard run outside a crash call inside, showed players with little interest in pursuit or getting off blocks.
There was little or no fight left in the Packers. In some ways, they looked like a team that had just given up.
Here is a rating of the Packers against the Falcons, with their 1 to 5 football totals in parentheses:
Not only did Jordy Nelson play with broken ribs, he probably was the team’s best receiver. In truth, that wasn’t saying much. The six WRs caught 16 passes for just 176 yards (11.0) against a secondary that was without No. 1 CB Desmond Trufant (shoulder) and allowed 341 net passing to the Saints in Game 16. Of the 176 yards, just 38 (2.4) came after the catch. Falcons coach Dan Quinn went away from his base Cover 3 scheme to challenge the Packers with extensive man-to-man. Nelson beat CB Jalen Collins on a deep corner route for 27 on the second play. On the next snap, he curled inside against nickel back Brian Poole for 15. He was unable to sustain his fast start as the pain obviously built up, and he had a bad drop late in the first half that might have led to points or at least prevented Atlanta from scoring. Still, Nelson had enough left to beat CB Robert Alford on a slant for a late 3-yard TD. He played 49 of the first 56 offensive snaps before being withheld from the final 12. It underscored anew just how important being a part of the team is for Nelson. Davante Adams (27) and Geromino Allison (28) were limping around on their ankle and hamstring injuries and couldn’t make much headway. Randall Cobb (66) wasn’t much of a factor, either. His two big gainers (34, 22) came when he broke off routes and there was all day to spot him. For the second game in a row the most targeted receiver was Jared Cook (51, including 15 with his hand down). Of his 12 targets, he caught seven and dropped two. He kept falling down at the catch point. The snap total for Richard Rodgers (16, six with his hand down) was his lowest since Game 3 of his rookie season (2014). He had merely one snap in the first half. With the season on the line, McCarthy went to Cook and injured WRs to fill out his spread formations rather than his former starting TE.
For more on McGinn’s analysis and ratings, visit Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.