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Week 14 Game Recap: Atlanta Falcons 20, Green Bay Packers 34


What you need to know

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected repeatedly for big plays during the first half, including a deep fade and a touchdown during the first drive. Ryan also found Mohamed Sanu for multiple third-down conversions. However, However Austin Hooper didn’t break off his hot route soon enough and it led to a pick-six by Breshad Breeland, extending Green Bay’s lead to 10 points in the second quarter. A Jake Matthews penalty later nullified a deep fade to Jones that would have put Atlanta to the Packers’ 13, but the foul influenced a punt two plays later. By the middle of the third quarter, Green Bay jumped on Atlanta’s defense and foiled Atlanta’s offense with pressure, earning a 34-7 lead. When Atlanta made substitutions to its offense in the fourth quarter, the team drove the field but a snap hit Sanu’s leg in the red zone and Green Bay recovered, maintaining a 20-point lead. A Justin Hardy touchdown with 14 seconds left made the final score look better.

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-20, to improve their record to 5-7-1. Aaron Rodgers completed 21 of 32 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing three times for 44 yards. Running back Aaron Jones rushed 17 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 28 yards. Davante Adams led the Packers receivers with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Randal Cobb had his best game since week 1, catching five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught only two passes for 19 yards. Jimmy Graham also had a down game, catching only passes for 13 yards.

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 42 - 262 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0
The quarterback found Julio Jones on 63 yards worth of passing yards on 3 catches to begin the game, including a fade route up the right sideline, an out route at the left boundary, and a crossing route for a 16-yard touchdown. Round found Mohamed Sanu twice in two drives for third-down conversions in the shallow zone of the Packers defense to keep drives a live. On a third and eight near the red zone, Ryan tried to bring the ball down and fumbled it, forcing a loss when Tevin Coleman recovered it. This led to a 53-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the right goal post. Ryan threw a pick-six with six minutes in the second quarter when Breshad Breeland undercut Austin Hooper on an out that as behind Hooper. It was likely that Hooper did not break the route fast enough on this hot versus the blitz. Ryan found Julio Jones on a deep fade but a Jake Matthews penalty nullified the play and two plays later, Atlanta punted with 2:45 left in the half. Clay Matthews sacked Ryan on third and short to begin the second half on a looping blitz inside from a twist to confuse the left guard, ending Atlanta’s first drive of the third quarter. Ryan overshot Jones, who beat Jaire Alexander on a deep post, late in the third quarter on 3rd and 10 and it resulted in another punt. The Packers’ relentless pressure foiled Ryan throughout the game despite Ryan not getting sacked as often as we’ve seen in recent weeks.

RB Ito Smith, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 60 - 0, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (4 targets)
He pushed forward at left guard for 3-4 yards on his first carry during Atlanta’s second drive of the day. Smith made the first man miss at the entrance of the crease and earned 4-5 on the next play. He bounced off two glancing blows for 17 yards on one of two runs netting 20 yards late in the half, getting Atlanta across midfield. Smith got stuffed on a third and short in the fourth quarter, forcing Atlanta to go for it and find the runner in the right flat for a first down on a short pass.

RB Tevin Coleman, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 45 - 0, Rec: 1 - -4 - 0 (1 targets)
He bounced a play to the left side on a cutback for seven yards, earning more in his first two carries than he did last week. Coleman earned the first down with a four-yard run off right guard. The Packers’ best lineman Kenny Clark got rolled up on the play and helped off the field, leading to a 13-yard gain run through Clark’s spot where Coleman didn’t touch anyone until he reached the second level of the defense. Coleman earned eight yards up the middle with a nice cut to the right flat midway through during Atlanta’s first drive of the second half.

RB Brian Hill, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0
He earned a first down on a short run in the fourth quarter—his first playing time of the season in the middle of the fourth quarter.

WR Julio Jones, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 106 - 2 (11 targets)
He was awarded a reception on a fade route up the right sideline that he juggled on the way down and the ball came loose as he hit the ground despite a Packers challenge that took Atlanta across midfield. He was also involved in a close call on the next target—an out where his second foot dragged partially in and then out of bounds—that was called complete. The Packers challenged this play again and the officials upheld the ruling again. Jones scored later in the drive on a crossing route from the 16 and earned 14 yards on his own after the catch for the opening drive touchdown. Jones’ fourth catch was a settle route up the seam for six yards. Jones beat Jaire Alexander on the fade to reach the Packers’ 13 but Jake Matthews nullified the play with a penalty. Atlanta punted two plays later. Ryan overshot Jones, who beat Jaire Alexander on a deep post, late in the third quarter on 3rd and 10 and it resulted in another punt. Jones scored on a 12-yard hitch in the early fourth quarter after Alexander played too much cushion in the red zone early in the fourth quarter, closing the Packers’ lead to 20 points.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 54 - 0 (8 targets)
Ryan found Sanu while climbing the pocket under pressure on third and eight. He hit Sanu settling over the middle for the first down. Ryan found Sanu once again for a third-down conversion in a heavily-trafficked area with Julio Jones supplying a pick on third down in Packers territory during its second drive. Sanu earned a 12-ayrd gain in the left flat on a hook route setting up a short hitch to Jones for a short touchdown to get the game within 20 early in the foruth quarter. The snap bounces off Sanu's leg as he motioned across the formation in the red zone with Atlanta trying to get within two scores in mid-fourth quarter and the Packers recover.

WR Justin Hardy, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 1 (4 targets)
Earned garbage time in the middle of the fourth quarter and caught a short pass to the flat for Atlanta to reach the Packers red zone. He earned a slant for a touchdown with 14 seconds left for a garbage-time touchdown.

WR Marvin Hall, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -3 - 0 (1 targets)
He took a jet sweep to left end and Kyle Fackrell stuffed it for a three-yard loss during the first drive.

WR Calvin Ridley, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (4 targets)
Ryan found Sanu while climbing the pocket under pressure on third and eight. He hit Sanu settling over the middle for the first down. Ryan found Sanu once again for a third-down conversion in a heavily-trafficked area with Julio Jones supplying a pick on third down in Packers territory during its second drive. Sanu earned a 12-ayrd gain in the left flat on a hook route setting up a short hitch to Jones for a short touchdown to get the game within 20 early in the foruth quarter. The snap bounces off Sanu's leg as he motioned across the formation in the red zone with Atlanta trying to get within two scores in mid-fourth quarter and the Packers recover.

TE Austin Hooper, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (6 targets)
He caught a pass in the right flat and exited the boundary with a first down early in the Falcons’ second drive near midfield. He earned some short targets during the second half but limped off the field with about 90 seconds remaining.

TE Eric Saubert, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)
He earned playing time down 34-7 late in the third quarter, catching a short pass in the flat for seven yards and slipping to the ground. He followed up at the right sideline for a first down.


Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 32 - 196 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 44 - 0
Aaron Rodgers completed 21 of 32 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing three times for 44 yards. This has not been Rodgers most prolific year, and this week was another example of that. The Packers have not been running the ball more frequently, they’ve just been more efficient, thanks to Aaron Jones’ breakout season. This has kept Rodgers in less desperate passing situations as he navigates a season where his head coach has been fired and he’s played most of the season with two rookie wide receivers as his #2 and #3 pass catchers. Rodgers got off to a great start in this game, completing his first six passes, including a touchdown pass to Davante Adams on the Packers first drive. On that play Rodgers was lined up in the shotgun with the Packers driving on the Falcons seven yard lined. With Adams lined up out wide to the left, Rodgers took the snap and immediately looked left for Adams who ran an out-route that he rounded off at the apex which created enough space for Rodgers to throw a dart into Adams hands at the goal line. Rodgers next touchdown pass came on third and ten from the Falcons 24 yard line, with the Packers up 20-7 and driving to the start the third quarter. Rodgers lined up in the shotgun with Randall Cobb lined up out wide to his left. Rodgers took the snap, dropped back in the pocket, then stepped up in the pocket and fired a line drive to Cobb, who was running a straight go-route. It looked like a designed back shoulder throw initially, but Rodgers put the ball on the money right out in front of Cobb and dead on the run. Cobb secured the catch for a touchdown, which put the game away for the Packers.

RB Aaron Jones, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 78 - 1, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)
Aaron Jones rushed 17 times for 78 yards and one touchdown, while also catching all three of his targets for 28 yards. The Packers opened up the game by attacking a weak Atlanta secondary, and they were quite successful, jumping out to a 20-7 lead by halftime. Jones was sparsely used in the first half, finishing with only seven yards rushing. However that changed in the third quarter, as Jones racked up 23 yards on the Packers first drive, and then came back on the next drive and sliced up the Falcons defense for 55 yards and a touchdown. Jones touchdown run came on second and three with the Packers driving at the Falcons 29 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center and handed off to Jones, who ran inside the right tackle and then cut smoothly to the middle of the line and up the field. The Packers offensive line did a great job of opening up a big hole in the center of the line, and Jones used his explosiveness to quickly get to the second level of the Falcons defense. Jones bolted through the line and then smoothly cut back to the right side of the field where a Falcons defender made an attempt to tackle him at the 10 yard line. Jones shook off the defender with a stiff arm and avoided a leg tackle with a back foot high step before running through untouched into the end zone. Going back and looking at this run on tape, the play happens so quickly because Jones is getting to the second level of the defense in a flash, and his ability to change direction is smooth that it makes it really difficult for defenders to get the right angle to tackle him. Jones has the skillset to be a top running back, and the fact that he added value as a pass catcher this year will only raises his stock even further going into next season.

RB Jamaal Williams, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 17 - 0 (1 targets)
Jamaal Williams rushed four times for 17 yards and was unable to secure his only target in the passing game. This was a much better showing for Williams than last week, where he had trouble even getting past the line of scrimmage. Williams was able to throw in two gains of five yards and one gain of nine yards. Williams is much better suited for spot work here and there, and to give Jones a breather every now and again. It will be interesting to see how Williams fares with a new coaching staff next season, as Jones is sure to be the centerpiece of the Packers running game moving forward.

WR Davante Adams, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 81 - 1 (11 targets)
Davante Adams caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets in Sunday’s win over the Falcons. It was Adams 12th touchdown catch of the season, matching his career high that was set in 2016. Adams has had a ridiculously consistent season as a fantasy receiver. He’s scored in 10 of 13 games, and in the games he did not, he’s averaged 7.5 receptions for 126 yards. Adams has had eight games of 80+ receiving yards including four games of 130+ receiving yards. Some of this can be attributed to being Rodgers #1 receiver, but Adams has shown that he can be counted on as an elite #1 receiver. The Falcons were down for much of this game, and despite Adams having 60+ yards and a touchdown by halftime, the Packers chose to run the ball down the Falcons throat in the second half which limited Adams potential for a monster day. He also had a long catch called back for a penalty, which would have given him his fifth 100+ yard game of the season. On the Packers first drive, Adams was lined up in the right slot, and put a stutter step in-out-in fake on his defender before taking off up-field on a go-route. Adams had separation but Rodgers underthrew the ball and forced Adams to make an incredible catch where he reached behind his defender and plucked the ball over his shoulder and secured the catch. That 21 yard gain set up Adams touchdown catch. On that play Rodgers was lined up in the shotgun with the Packers driving on the Falcons seven yard lined. With Adams lined up out wide to the left, Rodgers took the snap and immediately looked left for Adams who ran an out-route that he rounded off at the top which kept his defender from committing to a specific direction.

WR Randall Cobb, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 43 - 1 (6 targets)
Randall Cobb caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown on six targets in the Packers win over the Falcons on Sunday. This was Cobb’s best performance since his week 1, as Cobb had the most receptions, yards and touchdowns since his monster 9/142/1 line in the Packers first game of the season. Cobb got the start, and it with this performance looks to have reclaimed the #2 spot for the Packers moving forward. Cobb’s touchdown catch came with the Packers driving at the Rodgers next touchdown pass came on third and ten from the Falcons 24 yard line, with the Packers up 20-7 and driving to the start the third quarter. Rodgers lined up in the shotgun with Randall Cobb lined up out wide to his left. Rodgers took the snap, dropped back in the pocket, then stepped up in the pocket and fired a line drive to Cobb, who was running a straight go-route. It was a phenomenal throw from Rodgers, as Cobb caught the ball exactly in-stride a yard deep in the end zone. Cobb made a nice catch on the ball, and it was the type of play that the Packers have been missing with team’s keying on Adams and in desperate need of a consistent #2 receiver who clicks with Rodgers.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught two passes on two targets for 19 yards in the Packers win over the Falcons on Sunday. This marked the fourth straight game that Valdes-Scantling has failed to reach 20 yards receiving, and he has only six catches over that span after averaging four catches and 72 receiving yards in the five games preceding this stretch. Randall Cobb got the start in place of Valdes-Scantling and turned in his best game since week 1, so it is safe to assume that Cobb will be the Packers #2 receiver for as long as he is healthy going forward. The Packers offense is not capable of sustaining more than two receivers per week, and with Aaron Jones and Jimmy Graham in the mix as well, it looks as though Valdes-Scantling will be seeing limited targets for the rest of the season.

TE Jimmy Graham, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (5 targets)
Jimmy Graham caught two passes for 13 yards on five targets in the Packers win over the Falcons on Sunday. While the five targets were third on the team, Graham did not make an impact in this game and never threatened to do so. With Cobb back in the mix, and Jones being more involved in the passing game, Graham will certainly have weeks like this and consistency is not something you can count on with him moving forward.