Falcons build big lead, keep Packers at bay in 34-23 win
Send a link to a friend
[September 18, 2017]
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons
built a big lead over the Green Bay Packers and, unlike in the Super
Bowl against the New England Patriots last season, held on for a
victory this time.
The Falcons led by 24 points after three quarters and didn't wilt
after two early fourth-quarter touchdown passes by the Packers'
Aaron Rodgers in a 34-23 victory Sunday night.
Atlanta (2-0) came out on top in the opening regular-season game at
the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"It was a special night for our fans," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.
"Everyone was pumped, and we wanted to make sure we delivered."
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 19 of 28 passes for 252
yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones had five catches for 108 yards,
and Devonta Freeman rushed for 84 yards and two short touchdowns.
Atlanta safety Desmond Trufant, who missed the second half of last
season, had a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown and set up
another TD with an interception.
"Those were the turning points," said Quinn, whose team had a late
defensive stand to beat the Chicago Bears in the opener. "Last game
we had a stand-down at the end. This was a total team victory."
Vic Beasley Jr. caused the sack-fumble by Rodgers leading to the
Trufant touchdown, but the NFL sack leader from a season ago had to
leave the game later in the third quarter because of a hamstring
Rodgers, who lost favorite receiver Jordy Nelson to a quad injury in
the first quarter and was playing behind a depleted offensive line,
completed 33 of 50 passes for 343 yards. He threw for two touchdowns
and was picked off once.
"It was a tough situation with the Falcons' defensive line and the
loud environment," Rodgers said of the Packers missing both starting
tackles. "But we adjusted and started playing well."
Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for 33 yards and hit Ty
Montgomery from 1 yard for his touchdowns. Adams had eight catches
for 99 yards.
Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 51 and 53 yards for the Falcons,
who had no turnovers and were assessed just 34 penalty yards to 70
for the Packers.
"The Falcons won the turnovers and had the big-play advantage,"
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, "but we showed grit and battled
[to top of second column]
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks to pass against the Green
Bay Packers during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Falcons, who defeated Green Bay 44-21 in the NFC
Championship Game last season, have beaten the Packers three times
at Atlanta in 10 months.
Ryan was 13 of 20 for 201 yards in the first half, connecting with
seven receivers, and Bryant booted a 51-yard field goal as the
Falcons took a 24-7 intermission lead.
"We were dialing it up and going downfield," Jones said. "It was all
about matchups today. We were trying to put pressure on them."
The Falcons went 86 and 87 yards on drives capped by Freeman TD runs
of 1 and 2 yards, and Ryan hit Tevin Coleman for a 3-yard score in
the final minute of the second quarter after the Trufant
interception of Rodgers.
Capping a 75-yard drive, Montgomery scored from 1 yard in the first
quarter for the Packers (1-1), and Mason Crosby kicked a 28-yard
field goal in the third quarter.
"We played well in all aspects. I think the defense played great,"
said Ryan, the NFL MVP last season. "The score might have been a
pretty big margin, but it was a hard game. This win feels good."
NOTES: The Packers sustained two major losses in the first quarter,
with WR Jordy Nelson injuring a quad and DT Mike Daniels straining a
hamstring. ... The Falcons lost RT Ryan Schraeder (concussion) and
DE Courtney Upshaw (ankle) due to first-quarter injuries. ... The
Packers began the game without RT Brian Bulaga (ankle) and LT David
Bakhtiari (hamstring), as well as backup LT Jason Spriggs
(hamstring). ... Packers S Kentrell Brice sustained a groin injury
in the second quarter. ... The complex eight-pedal roof, closed for
the first seven events at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was open for the
sold-out game, which had NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in
attendance. ... The Falcons last played outside at home in 1991
before moving into the Georgia Dome the following season.
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten