Packers 17 Falcons 20: The Dirty Birds Peck Away at the Packers All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The Green Bay Packers got their fledgling wings clipped by the Atlanta Falcons today. The Falcons showed they are a true playoff contender, one with solid play in all 3 phases and a very balanced offense. Consistent to a fault, the Falcons were boring, but effective and difficult to stop.

Meanwhile, the Packers warts showed prominently today, with no running game at all and spotty special teams play, at best. Even with that, this was a game that was very winnable for the Packers. So, are the Packers playoff contenders or pretenders? We’ll probably know more after they play the Patriots in 3 weeks.

My game day impressions:


KEY TO THE GAME: If I had to pick JUST ONE thing, it would be this: Force the Falcons into obvious passing situations, then go after Ryan. How he handles adversity and pressure is still in question.

My 1A key to the game is something that I don’t usually say: Throw the ball – A LOT. But not just to the receivers. Use the running backs, use the tight ends… Falcons defense does not have enough talent in the secondary to handle a multi-pronged passing attack.

Green Bay’s inactives: Bigby, Smith, Starks, Briggs, McDonald, Newhouse, D. Lee and Wynn.

Andrew Quarless will start at TE for Lee.

Spencer Havner is active and should see plenty of special teams work, filling in for Smith and Bigby. Also becomes the #2 tight end, with Lee inactive.

All three fullbacks are active.

MM Comments on WTMJ Pregame show:

Very good week of preparation – I feel very confident going into this game.

Our practices the last few weeks have looked the way they’re supposed to look.

Overcoming injury adversity: It points to the character of the men on this football team.

Rodgers and Ryan: 2 very cerebral quarterbacks, Both teams have probably maxed out what could be asked of them. Atlanta use the no huddle and we could run our entire offense at the line of scrimmage if we chose to.

Falcoln receivers: Both big, physical targets. Will have to lean on them. Also very good in the air – we have to be prepared to compete for the ball in the air.

Michael Turner: I really like Michael Turner as a back. I like his running style. We have to be sure to gang tackle him.

Falcon defense: Very disciplined defense. You don’t see missed assignments. A sure tackling group.

Dome success: We practice a lot in the Hutson Center with noise piped in.


Today, one team will be deemed a Super Bowl contender, one a Super Bowl pretender.  And you know which one I think is which.

Happy to see the Packers start out on defense again.

Falcons offense executes very efficiently.

Nice dive by Desmond Bishop to draw a penalty. European Soccer players would be very proud! Forces Atlanta into a 3rd and 20 and ultimately settling for a field goal.

Why wasn’t someone telling Sam Shields to take a knee and not try to return a kickoff from 5 yards deep in the end zone?

On the Frank Zombo sack. I thought for sure that Clay Matthews was offsides. he was moving before anyone, but he timed it perfectly…

Rodgers running an awful lot, but at least he’s not holding the ball too long and getting sacked. I’m ok with that.

But are the Falcons really covering that well? Lets seem some passes to the running backs, please…

Score: Packers 3, Falcons 3


I have to say, the Falcons ST coverage teams look pretty tough, so far. Easily getting through the Packers’ blockers.

Unlike James Jones, Brett Swain knows to transfer the ball to his outside hand on the sideline…

And the Quarterback sneak issues on the goal line are back. If you’re on the one foot line, I’m OK with it. But not from the 2 yard line. The majority of the time it’s just not going to work.

Plenty of talk on the live blogs about Mike McCarthy not challenging the 3rd down pass to Gonzalez that hit the ground. Of course, the coaches in the booth are the ones to blame. if we casn all see it on TV, why is MM not told to challenge?

Falcons are a very well coached team…

So on the Falcons TD, the Packers drop Cullen Jenkins (jumped around aimlessly) and they go with a three man rush. yet somehow, with 8 players in coverage, A Hall of Fame TE is uncovered. Am I missing something here?

Score: Packers 3, Falcons 10


Shields once again runs out a kickoff from 5 yards deep. this time the blocking is better and he is able to run towards the open field. Atlanta’s kicker saves a touchdown. So I guess the full blame for the first half return does go on the Packers blockers on that one.

Packers go three-and-out on their first possession, thanks to just an awful decision by Brandon Jackson. he has neither the moves or the speed to try what he did. If there’s nothing there, put your head down and take the no gain.

Just before the Jordy Nelson catch to the 2 yard line, I was thinking, that the Packers can beat Atlanta deep all they want. I hope we see more attempts…

So far, Packers tackling looks much better. I imagine they got reamed out about that at halftime…

AND, as soon as I type that. three Packers can’t bring down Snelling on a dump-off. He gets a key first down on 3rd and long, and Atlanta drives downfield for a touchdown.

Score: Packers 10, Falcons 10


Sam Shields gets a very questionable call for stiff-arming a Falcon player who was trying to tackle him on a kickoff return. Don’t understand that.

Packers inability to run influences their decision-making, especially on third down. But it’s curious that after BJax finally gets a first down on third and one, the Packers decide to throw the ball downfield on the very next third and then fourth down plays. Very curious.

Packers defense comes up huge soon after that, stopping the Falcons just out of field goal range.

Six minutes left, Packers start on their own 10 after the punt. Can they drive for the tie?

Awful job by James Jones on an attempted screen. Didn’t even try to block his man, who then blew up the screen.

Rodgers footwork in the pocket has just been AWESOME today…

Am I the only person who thinks the Packers are playing too much no huddle too soon? Why leave time on the clock for Atlanta at the end of the game?

Rodgers and the Packers make it down to the 5 yard line with 2 minutes left. Rodgers stripped of the ball on first down, but it bounces right back to him. Exhale…

Jordy did something very subtle on that TD play that was huge. Once he broke open, he angled back towards Rodgers just enough to be sure the DB couldn’t get in front of him. Great play. Packers tie the game, but PLENTY of time left for the Falcons.

On the kickoff return. Wilhelm gets called for a facemask. While everyone is bemoaning the penalty, if he doesn’t do it, there’s a very good chance the returner goes all the way. He had just eluded Crosby, and only Sam Shields may have had a chance at him further downfield. So don’t blame it on the facemask.

Final Score: Packers 17, Falcons 20


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


24 thoughts on “Packers 17 Falcons 20: The Dirty Birds Peck Away at the Packers

  1. I agree you can’t blame the game on that facemask, I am with you that if it hadn’t happened that was very likely a kick return for a touchdown…Sucks

    1. I’ve already seen people saying Wilhelm should be cut to send a message. Ridiculous. Blame the kickoff coverage, blame Slocum, but don’t blame Wilhelm.

  2. Thank you Slocum. This loss in on you.

    Still, a lot had to happen for us to lose this game. A lot. A freakish fumble, a 4th down not challenged, the D not playing to it’s usual, ST play…

    I’m not worried. We will make the playoffs, and we will go deep. How deep it’s still to be seen, but this team right now can win it all.

      1. Yeah, there are actually 2 things that concern me the rest of the way.

        One is the short yardage, both on offense and on defense.

        And the second is proper tackling. This game, and the AZ game, I saw awful tackling.

  3. 4 losses by 12 points = Bad Play Calling. A good coach would have won 3 of those games. MM get a mirror.

    If the Bears beat Philly today, GB is effectively 2 games down with 5 to go. GB needs help from others. They don’t control their own destiny.

    Why the hell does Crosby only kick two touch backs all year? It’s damn dome. If he can’t kick deep there, squib it.

    1. As I said above, short yardage offense is a big issue right now. Crosby’s decline on kickoff distance started last season. Of course, it could be Slocum focusing too much on placement.

  4. I am beating a dead horse here. The inability to run the ball, especially at the goal line, is the main reason the Packers lost this game. Rodgers fumble at the goal line would not have happen if you have a legitimate running back to push it in. You have to go back to last year when McCarthy and T.Thompson decided to carry a truckload of fullbacks on the roster. I do not know what the Packers leadership is thinking by not having a more depth at such an important position. I hate to say this about my beloved Packers, but this trend will repeat itself as the weather changes.

  5. What in the world are they doing with Kuhn? He doesn’t get any carries, despite multiple short yardage situations, and the only play he gets his hand on the ball is a screen… I don’t get it.

    I understand the run blocking left a lot to be desired, but Brandon Jackson was extremely disappointing this game. Up until yesterday, I had been giving him the benefit of the doubt. Well, not anymore. Either he needs to step it up, or the coaches need to get Nance more involved.

    And calling two QB sneaks in a row is just ludicrous. It hearkened to the back-to-back 4th-and-1 attempts by Kuhn.

    1. Chad, you may have answered your own question about Kuhn. He has been anything but special in his short yardage opportunities. Of course, if Johnson doesn’t mess up the pass intended for Quarless, these points are all moot.

  6. Oh, and this:

    “Am I the only person who thinks the Packers are playing too much no huddle too soon? Why leave time on the clock for Atlanta at the end of the game?”

  7. Gotta disagree with the too much time on the clock arguement. In a perfect world, teams could hold back and not score until there is a certain amount of time on the clock. That might be easy to do on Madden, but difficult in real life. When you have a chance you score, you need to score. Especially when you have only managed 10 points through the game’s first 59 minutes.

    Also, the Packers’ no-huddle on Sunday still seemed to consume a lot of the play clock. There were several times where Rodgers was wandering around and appeared to be doing dance moves while setting up the play and checking the defense. When some teams go no-huddle, it hurries everything up. That doesn’t appear to be the case with the Packers.

    1. After thinking about it a little bit, I came to the same conclusion as you did, Adam. The no-huddle really did eat up some significant time; plus, it kept the Falcons defense on their toes.

      I just wish the Packers ST would have done their job.

    2. “You score when you can score” is tru when you start the drive. But when you get down to their 30 yard line, do you need 2:30 to score? Especially if you’re not running the ball? So why continue with no huddle at that point?

  8. As our team matures and gets more confidence, I’d like to see the same happen to McCarthy. He still seems to lock up in key games against more experienced coaches. I’d like to believe we have the ability to get a yard with the backs we have. Why do always seem to default to a QB sneak? Do they not practice short yardage running. Why can’t we get tough and get the job done? MM seems to get afraid of choking in key moments. We missed two challenges that would have made a big difference. With all the positives MM has, I just haven’t seen the ability in big games when it matters most.

    1. In fairness, on first and goal, he did pass, And remember the third and 1 flea-flicker call – that was wild. But he does lean TOO heavily on QB sneaks. He just doesn’t trust the running game, and with good reason.

  9. I’m the “glass half full Ruppert” today. I can’t really blame McCarthy too much for yesterday. He figured that Atlanta basically couldn’t stop our passing attack. He was right. In spite of a nonexistent running game, we still averaged 7.1 yards a play. We only gave up 295 yards and held Atlanta to 4 for 12 on 3rd down. We did a ton of things right. The only thing this game proves is that we won’t go 13-3.

  10. The special teams were unfortunate, but we expect that and they were short handed. I’m with A-Rod, this one was on the offense. We’ve got to score more than 17 points on an average defense like Atl. I would have liked to see MM kick the field goal rather than call another QB sneak on 4th down in the 2nd quarter. It looked desperate to go-for-it so early in the game. I’m sure he thought it showed confidence in his offense, but I would argue the opposite. It appeared that we felt like we couldn’t keep up with Atl if we didn’t get a touchdown. Total momentum swing, points swing, and confidence drainer.

    1. I agree. Instead fully accepting the fact that we have short yardage problems and doing something to fix it, MM tries to make a “statement of confidence” with a stupid playcall that has little hope. It seems he repeatedly has this type of “not coming to grips with things” issue.

      1. First of all, welcome SpiderPack. I think you’re new here…

        MM is a stubborn, stubborn man. He often will insist on one thing when all the evidence points to another.

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