Packers blow 12-point lead, lose to Falcons

Falcons gash Packers for 211 rushing yards
Luke Reimer
Green & Gold Express

A 12-point fourth-quarter lead was not enough for the Green Bay Packers, as the Atlanta Falcons ripped off 13 unanswered points to hand Green Bay its first loss of the season.

The 25-24 Sept. 17 loss drops Green Bay to 1-1 on the season, but with the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears all losing this week, the Packers stay atop the division.

Quarterback Jordan Love once again did his part, throwing for 151 yards and three touchdowns, with rookie wide receivers Jayden Reed (two) and Dontayvion Wicks (one) on the receiving ends of those scores. It was the rookie on Atlanta who was the X-factor of the game, though. Running back Bijan Robinson gashed Green Bay for 124 yards on 19 carries. The Texas alum added another 48 yards through the air.

In total, the Falcons picked up 211 yards on the ground, with quarterback Desmond Ridder scoring a 9-yard rushing touchdown.

“You guys saw; they shredded us,” said Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, when asked about Atlanta’s rushing attack. “Consistently.”

Even with running back Aaron Jones, left tackle David Bakhtiari and wide receiver Christian Watson out of the game, Green Bay was able to march down the field on its first drive of the day. Facing a third-and-seven from the Falcons’ 28-yard line, back-up tackle Rasheed Walker jumped offsides and Green Bay was called for a false start. Pushed back to a third-and-12, Love missed Reed on a pass attempt and the Packers saw fourth-and-12 from Atlanta’s 33. That fourth-and-12 turned into a fourth-and-17 after a delay of game on the ensuing field goal attempt.

In what would have been a 56-yard field goal attempt, LaFleur marched the punting unit onto the field, giving the ball to Atlanta on its own 20-yard line. LaFleur’s decision to punt the ball was a curious decision, as rookie kicker Anders Carlson hit a 52-yard field goal last week against the Chicago Bears.

“It was just a really long field goal,” said LaFleur, on his decision to punt. “I mean, that was a silly penalty. We can’t have that. Those are penalties that get you beat and, obviously, when you lose a game by one point, that is one of the critical points of the game.”

The major turning point in the game came though in the middle of the fourth quarter. Up two points and facing a third-and-one from the Packers’ own 34-yard line, Love audibled the play call to a quarterback sneak, which would have given Green Bay a first down and kept the clock moving. Instead, Love ran the play before the ball was snapped and was called for a false start, pushing Green Bay back to a fourth-and-four and forcing them to punt the ball back to Atlanta.

“If (Love) thought that he could get it on the sneak, then it is on him to check to it,” said LaFleur. “I think he did and nobody heard him. I mean, it was loud and it was an unfortunate situation.”

While the loss for Green Bay hurts, given that the team was up 12 in the fourth quarter, what may hurt even more is guard Elgton Jenkins being forced to leave the game with a knee injury. That injury turned out to be an MCL sprain. Jenkins was not the only Packer to leave the game, as rookie pass rusher Lucas Van Ness was also forced to leave the game with an apparent elbow injury.

With injuries all over the team, Green Bay will look to bounce back in its home opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 24.