In what surely was Coach Matt LaFleur’s best play calling since his arrival in Green Bay, the Packers had the Falcon’s defense guessing wrong all Monday evening. Below are just four of the dozen or so play calls that fooled or distracted the Falcon’s defense all game long.
1st Qtr, no score, 11:28, 1st and 10 at ATL 29
Shotgun snap, with FB Lovett on Rodgers’ left and Aaron Jones on his right, but the distraction consists of Malik Taylor racing backwards in motion and looping around the left side well behind the line of scrimmage. With perfect timing, Rodgers fakes the pass to Taylor, but he’s already handed the ball to Jones, who uses a Bakhtiari block to quickly get into open space down the middle. With the defensive backs drawn toward Taylor, Jones rambles for 23 yards, down to the ATL 6-yard line. Two plays later, Taylor, with Jones stacked behind him, draws both defenders, and Jones takes the easy toss and strolls into the end zone with the game’s first score. The Packers have now scored on their first offensive possession in all four games this season.
2nd Qtr, Packers lead 27-16, 00:58, 4th and 2 at ATL 28
Packers were already in field goal territory, but LaFleur wants more. Three receivers are stacked to the left side, Rodgers fades back, There’s good blocking by Jamaal and Bakhtiari, as the play took an extra second to develop. Malik Taylor cuts toward the middle of the field, hesitates, then reverses directions and heads over to the left flank. Easy pass to Malik, who was really the play’s only option, and who’s open by eight yards. Malik even managed to get out of bounds, stopping the clock. Robert Tonyan catches a TD pass on the next play. On a fourth down, the Falcons weren’t expecting a critical throw to go to a guy without any prior NFL catches.
4th Qtr, Packers lead 13-3, 11:32, 2nd and 4 at GB 42
Run formation, Rick Wagner reports in as an eligible receiver, and stacked to the right are Malik Taylor and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers fakes to Aaron Jones, crossing to the left, and quick screens to MVS, who has dropped back a step. Taylor gets a block on one defender. MVS starts wide, then makes an impressive quick cut up field, resulting in a first down with two yards to spare. Good effort by Falcon CB Sheffield, but a better one-on-one move by MVS. The drive resulted in a 48-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, his 25th consecutive FG under 50 yards.
4th Qtr., Packers lead 30-16, 3:24, 3rd and 1 at GB 34
Packers are in run mode, with FB Lovett and Aaron Jones in I-formation behind Rodgers. Tonyan motions and resets on the right side of the line. The two backs head right on what looks like a classic power sweep, or student body right – except for Tonyan, who delays slightly and then heads to the left side. He’s all by himself, goes for 20 easy yards, and stays in bounds to keep the clock running. Rodgers was all grins after this bit of deception, as this play and first down sealed the win.