The Green Bay Packers lost by three points for the fourth time this season, which actually is the sum total of all of their losses.
There’s really no reason to overreact at this point. The Packers lost to a good team on their home field — a home field where the Atlanta Falcons are 18-1 since their current head coach, Mike Smith, took the reins.
Still, it really seems like the loss is a missed opportunity for the Packers. The Falcons did nothing impressive on the day.
In fact, you’re going to hear about Matty Ice, the nickname the media has given to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, all week long. He did drive his team to the winning score. He did have a killer completion percentage on the day, going 24-of-28 for 198 yards and a touchdown.
However, Ryan was nothing special. He didn’t win the game for the Falcons. He simply took what the Packers’ defense gave him. The Falcons didn’t go downfield all day and the Packers limited their biggest weapon, the NFL’s leading receiver, Roddy White, to five receptions for 49 yards.
Simply, the story of the day boils to four things.
1. Smith outcoached Mike McCarthy, especially in the first half.
2. Falcons running back Michael Turner controlled the clock and the game. Turner finished with 23 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons finished with only a three-minute time of possession advantage, but it seemed like a 20-minute advantage, especially because the Packers had no running game whatsoever, thanks to their offensive line.
3. Shawn Slocum is the person least-deserving of a job in the NFL.
4. The Falcons were able to completely neutralize Clay Matthews.
Let me expand on point one, first.
The game, which could essentially eliminate the Packers from the home-field advantage conversation, was reminiscent of the NFC Championship game the Packers lost to the New York Giants.
The Packers seemingly did enough to win in the second half, but the first half was a string of missed opportunities. McCarthy’s play calling was, well… it was like someone jammed that marker in the back of his hat right into his medulla oblongata.
An Aaron Rodgers run from the Falcons’ one yard line on fourth-and-goal? Are you kidding me?
If you can’t gain that yard with one of your running backs you should cut your entire offensive line, all three of your fullbacks and whatever back you’re handing the ball to. Similarly, you have one of the best quarterbacks in football. Whatever you do, don’t let him throw the ball.
No, we’ll run it, he’ll fumble and it will change the tone of the first half.
Then there was the decision not to challenge a “reception” by Falcons tight end Tony Gonzales on a crucial fourth-and-1 play in the second quarter. The replay clearly showed Gonzales bobbled the ball on the way to the ground and the play likely would have been overturned. The Packers didn’t bother to challenge.
Perhaps McCarthy is too stupid, but that’s why he has guys sitting in the box upstairs. Why someone on the Packers staff didn’t radio down to El Tonto is not only beyond me, but completely irresponsible.
As for the second point, Turner ran through the Packers defense all day.
Certainly, Turner is a load to bring down and he ran well on the day, but if anyone could wrap up and tackle on the Packers defense, Turner wouldn’t have come close to 100 yards.
A.J. Hawk, Nick Collins, Frank Zombo… hello?
Collins also contributed to one of the most frustrating moments on the day. With the Falcons facing fourth-and-goal from the Green Bay one, Ryan handed off to Turner, who cut outside to his left and walked into the end zone.
On the play, the Packers were stacked at the line of scrimmage, with Collins on the outside right. Instead of playing the outside, Collins dove straight ahead into the pile, which would have done nothing even if the Falcons would have run up the middle.
Result: Falcons go up 17-10, Packers lose any momentum their defense may have created.
Oh, and by the way, way to show up today, Nick. Thanks for being a complete non-factor.
On the third point, the Packers special teams (surprise!) essentially cost them the game. Forget for a moment the facemask by Matt Wilhelm on the final Falcons kickoff return.
The Falcons return man, Eric Weems, averaged 31 yards per return. His final return would have put the Falcons in great field position regardless of whether Wilhelm grabbed the facemask or not.
To which I have to wonder — how does Slocum have a job? The Packers, although somewhat improved from last year, have had terrible, game-changing (in a bad way) special teams for the past two seasons under Slocum.
I don’t know, El Tonto, but maybe Slocum isn’t the right guy for the position?
Finally, perhaps the biggest key to the Falcons’ win is they completely handled Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.
Matthews got occasional pressure on Ryan, but he didn’t get near a sack on the day and only recorded three tackles. The credit for that goes to the Falcons’ offensive line and coaching staff.
The staff obviously put together a plan to eliminate Matthews and the offensive line executed it.
In the end, that’s what it comes down to. The Falcons may not be the better team, but they were certainly the team who executed better on Sunday.
The playoffs now lead through Atlanta.
Slocum has got to go
Good article. I would mention two other things as the keys to the game though.
1. A-Rodge fumbled the ball at the goal line. This is an absolute killer. On the road, against an efficient team, giving points away is a sure way to lose. I think the Packers continue their positive momentum and it is a different game if the Pack gets the lead here. Doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with the call, still can’t fumble the football.
2. Tackling- OMG. Matt Ryan’s best play all game was throwing a short pass and watching the Packers miss tackles. Everyone talks about the 4th down conversion that should have been challenged. I talk about the 3rd and 19 where two Packers missed open field tackles against the Falcon’s FB, letting him get 16 yards. If either make the tackle or simply slow him down, the Falcons punt the ball and the 4th down never happens.
BTW, everyone who was in the Packer press box in the GA Dome says the replays were a full play behind, making challenges nearly impossible.
But when the entire Falcon offense rushes up to the line of scrimmage after picking up a crucial 4th down on a sprawling, diving catch…someone on the Packer sideline needs to ask why and call time out.
You don’t want to waste the challenge, then call time out. Look at the replays while the time out is going on and if it’s warranted, THEN throw the flag. Yes…I understand we are automatically going to lose one and possibly 2 time outs there with a missed challenge, but at that late stage in the half, there was no excuse not to call time out at the very least. If we end up challenging the play and winning it, we’re going into our 2 minute drill anyway so a lost time out is not a huge deal with just over 2 minutes left and the ball.
Great point about calling a time out. Just makes me think how an nfl coach couldn’t think of that or have planned for that situation for a game on the road. Packers eventually need a new coach for the future and what should be the prime of A Rod and the packers… Aaron hinted at it earlier this year when he talked about being frustrated with the play calling. McCarthy has gotta go and everyone knows it.
I can only wonder after reading this if you’d have said Lombardi was an idiot coach for having Bart Star running it in during the icebowl. We lost to a good team with so many people on the IR and I know that’s not an excuse however I felt confident after this game we can contend and if the ball rolls our way we can actually beat the best teams in the NFL I still believe the packers can make it to the superbowl here is for hoping its all we as fans can do anyway.
A-Rod also picked up a key first down with his legs in the first half which received a terrible spot from the officials and was ruled a 4 & 1. If McCarthy and Co. woulda had access to real time replays they might’ve challenged that spot and kept the drive going. But, they did not…so…guh.
No run game. No run game. No run game. How do you think you can win now that everyone knows this? Answer = 1, maybe of the games left
I think “missed opportunity” is the best way to describe it. I’m not particularly upset, they’re a damn good team playing at home. But we certainly had our shot to come out of this thing with a win and didn’t capitalize.
What concerns me is the rest of the schedule. We’ve got the 49ers and the Lions, let’s call those wins. That gets us to 9 wins. We need to come up with probably 11 wins to get to the playoffs in the NFC, meaning we need to win 2 out of these 3 – @New England, Giants, Bears. Tough, tough games.
This article rocks. Thank you for calling out Collins, who is almost being outplayed by Charlie Peprah of all people. And most of all, “Shawn Slocum is the person least deserving of a job in the NFL”…. awesome. McCarthy’s biggest failure to this point, as a coach, is his reluctance to cut ties with Campen as O line coach and his replacing Stock with Stock 2.0. Awful special teams breakdowns every year.
Collins played like a dog today. Over-hyped much. But he’s all-pro.
Zombo can make a sack, but can’t seem to tackle anyone moving. Yeah it’s a problem. Who else do we have?
We would have beat the shit birds if we did’nt fumble in the end zone. Too big of a momentum swing for them. We put up a good fight though. Duh Bears pulled one out of thier ass today. Mouth breathing Cutler must of had a horseshoe up his ass because the son of a bitch does’nt usually play that well.
As long as we beat the lions and the Giants we would win the division with a win over duh bears to tie them the last game of the year. But we shouldn’t have to worry about that because duh bears have 3 or 4 more losses left in them. Go Pack Go!
Two QB draws in row on the 1??? Whahh?
Brandon Jackson might not be best option but what about Kuhn, or Hall or Quinn whatshisnuts in that sitch?
I think MM has taken this team as far as he can. Good offensive mind, but bad at game management. I kinda blame him for the injuries too since he tends to not have the team in good form until almost mid-season most years.
The Packers made 3 or 4 critical mistakes and the Falcons made none. To bad the Packers gaffe’s this season have cost them a chance at a playoff bye and probably the Division Title.
Is it me or have the Packer’s coaching staff made massive glaring errors in all of our losses?
1. Chicago Bears- McCarthy doesn’t allow the Bears to score an uncontested TD late in the game, all but assuring our offense will not get back on the field, and handing the game over to Chicago. After the game McCarthy suggests they considered letting them score but figured one of the most accurate short-range field goal and extra point kickers in history would miss. Feel free to help me out here…I feel like I’m overlooking other glaring errors.
2. Washington Redskins- Aaron Rodgers throws two picks and is sacked 3 times in the 4th quarter and Overtime as Mike McCarthy refuses to run the ball. Brandon Jackson ends the game with a whopping 10 carries for an amazing 115 yards. Jackson gets a grand total of 1 carry in the 4th quarter and 1 carry in Overtime as Rodgers continued to struggle.
3. Miami Dolphins- Frank Zombo, being inserted into the lineup for the first time this season doesn’t get proper coaching on a crucial 4th down punt in the 4th quarter and is called for lining up over the center. This blunder extends the drive for Miami and is a huge cause of the loss. After the game both Slocum and McCarthy refuse to accept responsibility, rather choosing to blame the officials for being picky. Why our player was even in the same zip code of that area remains to be seen.
4. Atlanta….we all saw it.
I think Collins was also to blame for the defensive miscue that allowed Gonzales to score.
As long as we’re handing out blame – how about Brandon Jackson? He couldn’t find the hole if his life depended upon it. And what’s with his dancing bear routine? Dude, you’re not fast enough to pull a Barry Sanders in the backfield. I’d rather see him fall down than lose more yardage. Time to put in Nance or Starks and see what they can do.
I think MM needs to stop calling plays and start managing the game. He’s too busy with one to worry about the other. Or he should have Winston Moss take over that role. Not challenging some critical plays was the one of the primary differences in the game – that and getting too cute with the play calling in the red zone.
Matthews was being held all over the place. I saw his facemask go vertical on at least 3 separate occassions.
Slocum has had his share of excuses – different guys available due to the injury problems. There was no excuse for this. There must be some fundamental flaws in our return games because key losses have come from strategic ST gaffes – like the blocked FG in Chicago.