By David Schiele
The Green Bay Packers committed 10 penalties. Five of those infractions were false starts. Head Coach Mike McCarthy drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spewing every colorful word he knew in immense frustration. Moreover, Aaron Rodgers could be seen fuming on the sidelines, after committing two turnovers while taking seven hits and three sacks. The Atlanta Falcons were in the Packers’ head.
In what was supposed to be a revenge game for the Packers, Atlanta delivered a simple message: They have Green Bay’s number.
Despite losing right tackle Ryan Schraeder, Atlanta’s offense still dominated in the first half. Wideouts Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu burned the Packers’ secondary for 164 receiving yards. Devonta Freeman continued his “disrespectful” running campaign and found the end zone twice. To put the cherry on top, Matt Ryan led a last-second touchdown drive to take a 24-7 lead into halftime.
Atlanta delivered the knockout punch early in the second half when Vic Beasley landed a Goldberg-like spear to Aaron Rodgers, causing a fumble that Desmond Trufant recovered for a touchdown. Green Bay tried to make a bad game appear competitive with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but it didn’t matter.
“Dan [Head Coach Dan Quinn] does an incredible job with his guys,” Mike McCarthy said. “They are an excellent football team, a well-coached football team.”
The Falcons are also Green Bay’s kryptonite.
In one calendar year, the Falcons have defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers three times. In those three games, Atlanta’s recorded 1,224 offensive yards, 13 touchdowns, and 111 points. Matt Ryan has accounted for nine of those touchdowns.
There was once a period in which Green Bay found ways to continually beat Atlanta. The Packers won every matchup from January 2011 to October 2016. The tables have turned. Any member of the Falcons offense is liable to score a touchdown against Green Bay, while the defense makes the almighty Aaron Rodgers look human.
The Packers are still a good team, meaning another playoff appearance is likely. If that happens, they should pray to avoid playing the Falcons, because Atlanta simply has their number.