Raise your hand if you predicted the Green Bay Packers would be beating the Atlanta Falcons 31-7 at half and only win by six points?
Hands down, liars.
That’s exactly what happened. A stellar first half gave way to a near-disastrous second half as Green Bay barely hung on to beat the Falcons 43-37. The Packer defense in particular had arguably its worst half of football in over a year and the offense could only muster 12 points in the final 30 minutes.
Thankfully a blocked extra point didn’t come back to haunt Green Bay and the Packers moved to 10-3 on the season. They remain one game ahead of the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North.
Here are those who played well against the Falcons and those who left something to be desired in another edition of “Game Balls and Lame Calls.”
Remember when everyone was drooling at the thought of Aaron Rodgers having a decent running game behind him?
Well, that dream is now a reality.
Eddie Lacy is something special. His ability to absolutely annihilate defenders as well as the sickest spin moves this side of a high-end washing mashing have given the Packers their best running back since Ahman Green in his prime.
It showed against Atlanta as Lacy spun like a top and leveled defenders like they were bowling pins. He finished the day with 106 total yards and two touchdowns (one receiving and one rushing).
What’s even more impressive is how much improvement Lacy has shown as a pass catcher. In addition to their deadly deep ball via Rodgers, Green Bay now has an honest to goodness screen game.
Lacy is getting going at the perfect time with the calendar now reading December. A dual threat Packers offense with home field advantage in the playoffs will be lethal for the rest of the NFC.
35 touchdowns and three interceptions now for Rodgers on the year.
Not bad for the leading NFL MVP candidate.
Rodgers was his usual brilliant self against the Falcons. He side stepped oncoming rushers with ease and kept the offense humming.
His fourth quarter touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson went for 60 yards and was one of his best throws of the season. Rodgers finished the day 24-36 for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
Just another day at the office.
It’s long overdue to start giving the Packers’ offensive line some credit. This is the best line Rodgers has played behind in his career.
Not only are they taking care of their quarterback but they’re also opening holes for Lacy and James Starks. Corey Linsely has been a revelation at center and David Bakhtiari, though he has had some moments, has slid into position nicely at left tackle.
Winning in the trenches is crucial in December football and the offensive line has been getting it done for the Packers in this five-game winning streak.
Julio Jones’ 259-yard day marks the worst performance of Sam Shields’ career.
The fact he was eventually benched for Davon House just puts the icing on the cake.
In Shields’ defense, he was questionable for the game and didn’t get a full week of practice. Still, he was so badly beat that you have to wonder how much the injury was a factor. If he was that bad, the coaching staff had no business activating him for the game.
House did a decent job on Jones before the receiver left with a hip injury. That makes Shields’ performance even more puzzling.
Hyde also had a rough day against Falcons. Like Shields, he was consistently out of place and Matt Ryan basically had his way against him.
Whiffing on tackles is one thing but you have to be in position to make a play. Hyde wasn’t and he too was eventually replaced in the game. This time it was Casey Hayward.
Oh, and tipping away a potential pick six is not a good thing when you’re a defender. Hyde probably cost Shields a touchdown which would have helped given the Falcons’ comeback.
The “Fire Dom Capers” Watch was all but cancelled for the season. Last night brought it back with a roar.
Capers’ defenses usually let off the gas a bit when given a big lead but last night was just a full blown collapse. That hasn’t been seen in the 2014 unit and is a bit alarming as the Packers gear up for the playoffs.
Players were out of position constantly in the second half and that falls on Capers and his scheme. He still doesn’t deserve to be fired but the defense hopefully will be more alert in the final three games of the regular season.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke