"We didn't execute in the first half. There were a number of plays not only on offense, but on defense. We really had a hard time slowing them down in the first half. That is a very good football team. They have the best record in the NFL. We played much better in the second half than we did in the first half."
It’s easy to say that Atlanta wasted another career day by Julio Jones, but the Falcons fought back from a huge deficit to fall short. The superstar receiver caught 11 passes for 259 yards, and one touchdown. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones decimated the Packers’ secondary time and again.
Coach Smith stated, "When Julio is healthy and when he and Matt (Ryan) are in tune with one another they are as good as any in the NFL. He is as good as anyone in the NFL. He is hard to cover, he has great speed, and he has great hands. He is an elite wide receiver. He is one of the best, if not the best in the NFL."
Unfortunately, Atlanta’s defense couldn’t make the requisite stops throughout the game. After a 7-7 tie in the first quarter, the Green Bay Packers outscored Atlanta 24-0 to take a 31-7 lead into the break. It was a prolific performance by Aaron Rodgers that included two touchdown passes in the quarter. Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson were on the receiving end of each of those passes.
Most teams would have folded their tents in the frigid temperatures, but Atlanta was undaunted by the task as hand. Matt Ryan came out firing, and connected with Julio Jones to start the second half. Moments late, Ryan found Eric Weems for a five yard touchdown pass.
Here is Matt Ryan on Julio Jones: "Julio played really, really well tonight. He competed really really hard. He showcased on the national stage the kind of player that he is. That kind of production is huge for our football team" The Falcons lost Jones to a hip injury late in the game, and he wasn't of the field for the last possession.
Still, entering the fourth quarter, the Falcons were down 34-17. Yet, the Atlanta offense was just getting started. The Falcons used an 11-play 73 yard drive to score a Julio Jones touchdown early in the fourth quarter. With the Falcons down 10, the defense needed to step up and get a big stop.
Unfortunately, Green Bay had other ideas. Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a 60 yard touchdown pass to put the lead back up to 40-24. Mason Crosby’s PAT failed, so Atlanta was still two scores down.
The “back n forth” affair continued with a Roddy White touchdown catch. Now Atlanta had to go for two in order to make it a one score game. However, the Falcons handed the ball off to Jacquizz Rodgers, and he was stopped short of the goal line.
After a huge 53 yard field goal by Mason Crosby, Atlanta’s offense used another long drive to score a touchdown. This time Ryan found Harry Douglas for a two yard score. With 2:11 left in the game, Atlanta had one more chance to stop the Green Bay offense. However, the Packers were able to get a few first downs to salt the game away.
Matt Ryan finished the game, 24/39 passing for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He also had one terrible interception. Comparatively, Rodgers connected on 24/36 passes and three touchdowns.