GAME RECAP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(ATLANTA) - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons picked up where they left off against the Green Bay Packers, building a big halftime lead on the way to a dominating victory Sunday night. The rematch of last season’s NFC championship game was essentially a repeat: Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, Devonta Freeman had a couple of scoring runs, and Desmond Trufant darted to the end zone off an attempted pass by Aaron Rodgers that was ruled a fumble, leading the Falcons to a 34-23 victory over the Packers that wasn’t really that close. Back in January, Atlanta earned a trip to the Super Bowl by racing to a 24-0 halftime lead and a 31-0 edge early in the third quarter on the way to a 44-21 blowout of the Packers. In the first regular-season NFL game at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the first sporting event with in which the facility’s camera lens-like roof was open, the Falcons put on quite a show to mark the occasion. They were ahead 24-7 at halftime and 31-7 less than a minute into the third period. Unlike the Super Bowl , Atlanta (2-0) made sure this lead stood up. Ryan threw for 201 yards in the first half. Julio Jones finished with five catches for 108 yards. Freeman rushed for 84 yards, and Tevin Coleman chipped in with 42 on the ground plus a touchdown catch. Trufant not only scored a defensive touchdown, he came up with a crucial interception near the end of the first half. “That’s when we really come to light,” coach Dan Quinn said. “Different weapons. You never know who’s going to be the one.” After struggling a bit offensively in a season-opening victory at Chicago that was preserved with a goal-line stand in the closing seconds, the Falcons dominated right from the start in an early showdown for conference supremacy. On the opening possession, Ryan guided a nine-play, 86-yard drive that was reminiscent of the league’s highest-scoring team a year ago. Jones hauled in two passes for 53 yards and the Falcons didn’t get to third down until they were at the Green Bay 1. Freeman powered in from there to make it 7-0. The Packers (1-1) responded with a 75-yard drive of their own, capped by Ty Montgomery’s 1-yard TD run. But it was downhill from there for Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, which was missing both of its starting tackles and lost receiver Jordy Nelson early on with a quadriceps injury. Atlanta led 17-7 after Freeman’s second TD run from 2 yards out and Matt Bryant’s 51-yard field goal. Then, the game totally got away from Rodgers and the Packers near the end of the first half. Three penalties in four plays pushed Green Bay back to its own 3 before Rodgers lofted a terrible pass down the right sideline that was picked off easily by Trufant at the 36. Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu with a 21-yard pass, setting up a 3-yard scoring pass to Coleman with 24 seconds remaining. On the second play of the second half, Trufant turned it into a rout. Rodgers was plastered by 2016 sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. attempting to throw, the ball wobbling out of his hand for what appeared an incomplete pass. But Trufant wisely scooped it up and scooted into the end zone for what was ruled a 15-yard touchdown. The call stood when the replay didn’t show conclusively that the pass went forward. “A big play by him with the interception at the end of the half,” Quinn said, “then a smart play to start the second half on the forced fumble.” The Packers finally showed a bit of life with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Rodgers’ 300th career scoring pass. It wasn’t nearly enough.
INJURIES: Green Bay: Already short-handed up front, the Packers lost several more players during the game. Nelson was the most prominent injury, but also going down were defensive tackle Mike Daniel (hamstring), receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder) and cornerback Davon House (quad). In addition, backup safety Kentrell Brice was forced out by a groin injury. Atlanta: On the first touchdown of the night, right tackle Ryan Schraeder was knocked out of the game with a concussion. The Falcons also lost Beasley (hamstring) and defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (ankle).
MILESTONES: Rodgers’ first touchdown pass came on a 33-yard, fourth-down pass to Davante Adams, who made a brilliant play to keep his feet inbounds while kicking the pylon. No. 300 for Rodgers was as short as you can get, a little shovel pass to Montgomery from the 1. Bryant’s first field goal was his 200th since joining the Falcons in 2009, making him the first Atlanta kicker to reach that figure. He also connected in the third quarter from 53 yards.
GREEN BAY ATLANTA
First downs 24 19
Rushes-yards 15-59 27-141
Net Passing yards 308 223
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 50-33-1 28-19-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-35 3-29
Punts-Average 3-39.7 4-41.3
Fumbles 1 0
Penalties-Yards 10-79 6-34
Time of Possession 31:23 28:37
GREEN BAY - 7 0 3 13 - 23
ATLANTA - 7 17 10 0 - 34
1st - ATL - Devonta Freeman, 1-yard run (Matt Bryant kick) ATLANTA 7-0
1st - GB - Ty Montgomery, 1-yard run (Mason Crosby kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - ATL - Freeman, 2-yard run (Bryant kick) ATLANTA 14-7
2nd - ATL - Bryant, 51-yard field goal ATLANTA 17-7
2nd - ATL - Tevin Coleman, 3-yard pass from Matt Ryan (Bryant kick) ATLANTA 24-7
3rd - ATL - Desmond Trufant, 15-yard fumble return (Bryant kick) ATLANTA 31-7
3rd - GB - Crosby, 28-yard field goal ATLANTA 31-10
3rd - ATL - Bryant, 53-yard field goal ATLANTA 34-10
4th - GB - Davante Adams, 33-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers (Pass failed) ATLANTA 34-16
4th - GB - Montgomery, 1-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) ATLANTA 34-23
GREEN BAY - Ty Montgomery 10-35 1 TD, Randall Cobb 1-10, Aaron Rodgers 2-8, Jamaal Williams 2-6
ATLANTA - Devonta Freeman 19-84 2 TD, Tevin Coleman 6-42, Matt Ryan 1-8, Taylor Gabriel 1-7
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 50-33-343 2 TD 1 INT
ATLANTA - Matt Ryan 28-19-252 1 TD
GREEN BAY - Devante Adams 8-99 1 TD, Ty Montgomery 6-75 1 TD, Randall Cobb 6-60, Martellus Bennett 5-47, Geronimo Allison 3-24, Richard Rodgers 2-22, Trevor Davis 1-9, Jamaal Williams 1-5, Aaron Ripkowski 1-2
ATLANTA - Julio Jones 5-108, Mohamed Sanu 5-85, Devonta Freeman 2-16, Taylor Gabriel 2-14, Austin Hooper 2-7, Tevin Coleman 2-3 1 TD, Justin Hardy 1-19
Green Bay leaves Atlanta with several injuries
(ATLANTA) – The Packers finally found some consistent offense in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, but it wasn’t nearly enough as they fell, 34-23, to the Falcons at the new Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Green Bay dropped to 1-1 on the young season, while Atlanta improved to 2-0. The Packers were without their starting offensive tackles at the beginning of the game, and several regulars dropped out of the contest with injuries as well, including DT Mike Daniels (hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (quad) and S Kentrell Brice (groin). The Falcons used their multitude of weapons to give the Packers trouble. QB Matt Ryan was 19-of-28 for 252 yards with a TD for a 108.0 passer rating. WR Julio Jones had five catches for 108 yards, and WR Mohamed Sanu added five grabs for 85 yards. RB Devonta Freeman had 20 rushes for 84 yards and two scores, and RB Tevin Coleman added five carries for 42 yards, plus a receiving TD. For the Packers, QB Aaron Rodgers finished 33-of-50 for 343 yards with two TDs and one interception for a 90.7 rating. WR Davante Adams led the way with eight catches for 99 yards and a score, while RB Ty Montgomery added six receptions for 75 yards and a TD. Montgomery also had 10 carries for 35 yards on the ground, with a rushing TD. WR Randall Cobb, who also left the game late with a shoulder injury, had six catches for 60 yards. Here's a recap of all the action.
First quarter: Both teams scored on their opening drives and the Packers and Falcons were tied 7-7 after one quarter. The Falcons took the ball first and went right down the field and scored. RB Devonta Freeman carried four times for 18 yards on the drive, including a 1-yard TD plunge. WR Julio Jones caught two passes for 53 yards to get the Falcons into scoring range. The Packers came right back, despite starting with two backups at the tackle spots in Kyle Murphy on the left side and Justin McCray on the right. Back-to-back third downs were converted by an end-around run by WR Randall Cobb and a 14-yard completion to TE Richard Rodgers. The Falcons were then called for pass interference on TE Martellus Bennett on the next third down, moving the chains again. On the next snap, RB Ty Montgomery was wide open in the right flat for a 23-yard catch-and-run all the way down to the 2. After an offside call on Atlanta, Montgomery dove in from the 1 to tie the game with 3:43 left in the quarter. Green Bay’s defense responded with a three-and-out, as LBs Clay Matthews and Joe Thomas combined on a third-down sack of QB Matt Ryan, forcing a punt. Atlanta’s defense then answered with a three-and-out, with the help of a holding penalty on C Corey Linsley. Before the end of the quarter, Packers DT Mike Daniels (hamstring) and WR Jordy Nelson (quad) were both announced with injuries and questionable to return.
Second quarter: The Falcons opened up the margin in the second quarter, scoring just before halftime to take a 24-7 lead into intermission. The Falcons opened the second quarter with a scoring drive to take the lead. A pair of 24-yard receptions by WR Mohamed Sanu preceded a 15-yard grab by Jones to convert third-and-11. WR Justin Hardy added a 19-yard catch over the middle to make it goal-to-go, and Freeman finished it with a 2-yard TD run. The Packers couldn’t answer this time. After an 8-yard pass to WR Geronimo Allison converted on third-and-3, Green Bay overcame a sack with a 17-yard pass to WR Randall Cobb. But on third-and-1, McCray was called for a false start, and then Bennett dropped the ensuing third-down pass. P Justin Vogel’s punt was downed at the Atlanta 9-yard line. Atlanta started its next drive with a 35-yard run by RB Tevin Coleman. A 27-yard pass to Jones put the Falcons inside the Green Bay 30. The Packers’ defense held there, though, as Matthews sacked Ryan on third down. Falcons K Matt Bryant was good from 51 yards out, and Atlanta led 17-7 with 3:21 left in the half. The Packers quickly stalled again. A defensive holding penalty bailed them out of one third-and-long, but Green Bay couldn’t take advantage and punted at the two-minute warning. The Packers got a quick stop, though. Pass breakups by CB Kevin King and S Morgan Burnett produced a three-and-out, and after a penalty on the punt, the Packers took over on their own 5-yard line with 1:09 left in the half. An offensive pass interference penalty on Bennett and a false start on Cobb put the Packers back on their own 3-yard line, and then QB Aaron Rodgers was intercepted by CB Desmond Trufant on a deep ball for WR Geronimo Allison. Taking over on the Green Bay 37, the Falcons started with a 9-yard scramble by Ryan, who then hit Sanu over the middle for 21 yards to make it first-and-goal on the 7 with 29 seconds left, and Coleman finished the drive with a 3-yard TD grab. The touchdown gave Ryan 201 passing yards in the first half.
Third quarter: The Falcons stayed in control through three quarters, taking a 34-10 lead over the Packers into the fourth. The second half started in the worst possible way for the Packers. On the second snap, Rodgers was drilled in the pocket by LB Vic Beasley, and his pass floated sideways. It was ruled a backward pass, and Trufant scooped up the fumble for the Falcons and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons led 31-7 just 56 seconds into the third quarter. The Packers finally got moving on their next drive. Passes of 15 yards to Montgomery, 16 yards to Adams, and 18 and 9 yards to Cobb got the ball in the red zone. Rookie RB Jamaal Williams ran up the middle for 4 for a first down on the Atlanta 13. Rodgers went to Cobb again for 10 yards for first-and-goal on the 3, but an offensive pass interference penalty on Allison wiped out a short TD pass to Cobb. Rodgers was then sacked by DE Adrian Clayborn for a 12-yard loss, and a shovel pass to Montgomery picked up 15 to make it third-and-goal on the 10. Rodgers pass for Cobb in the end zone was incomplete, and K Mason Crosby was good from 28 yards out to make it 31-10 with 9:33 left in the third. The Falcons got that field goal right back. Freeman ran three straight times for 26 yards to start the drive and added a 10-yard reception. Packers LB Blake Martinez sacked Ryan on third down, but Bryant was still able to make the kick from 53 yards out for a 34-10 Atlanta lead. The Packers chipped away and got across midfield on a fourth-down completion to Adams for 7 yards. A 9-yard scramble by Rodgers put the ball on the Atlanta 38 as the quarter expired.
Fourth quarter: The Packers’ drive eventually reached fourth-and-7 at the Atlanta 33, and Rodgers fired deep to Adams, who made a diving catch in the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point pass attempt for Adams was incomplete, and the Falcons led, 34-16, with 12:42 left. Freeman ran four straight times for 22 yards, but the Falcons’ drive stalled there, and the Packers took over on their own 15 after a punt. The Packers got going again on a 23-yard pass to Montgomery. Passes of 13 and 6 yards to Bennett were followed by a 13-yard pass to Allison for a first down in the red zone. A 17-yard pass to Adams put the ball on the 1, and a shovel pass to Montgomery got it in the end zone. It was Rodgers’ 300th career TD pass, making him the fastest in league history to reach the mark. Crosby’s PAT pulled the Packers within 34-23 with 5:51 left. The Falcons mixed run and pass to kill all but the final 1:13 before punting the ball back to the Packers.