September 17, 2017
Green Bay 23 at Atlanta 34
No, really. We lost the coin toss and Green Bay made their first mistake of the day. They gave Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman the ball…..first. I felt good at that point, then 9 plays later, I knew it was already over as Free ran in his 1-yard touchdown. Which also answers the question of, “Who will have the first official touchdown in Mercedes Benz Stadium?” Free. Who else!?!
What a way to open Mercedes Benz Stadium. A Sunday night prime time, national game, hosting Green Bay, for the third time since last Halloween. Same two teams, same result. The Benz Nest was electric, the crowd loud, the roof, open.
Within 5 minutes, the Falcons were up 7-0 and did not look back. The Packers did drive back down the field to tie the game at 7 all with a 1-yard touchdown run of their own. From that point on, it was Atlanta scoring and Green Bay punting. On the Falcons next drive, Freeman had his second touchdown of the day, and celebrated with a jump shot into a net created by Andy Levitre. NOW, this is fun. We still need Mohamed Sanu or Taylor Gabriel to score, so we can get a good touchdown celebration, but we will take this for now.
Sanu did have 5 catches on the day, good, over the middle, hit taking, stretching catches for 85 yards, yet no touchdown yet. Turbo had 2 catches for 14 yards. Which means, that Julio Jones was not the decoy, but the lead receiver for the day. Ju finished the day with 5 catches for 108 yards, including a big 34-yard reception, where he fought for those additional yards.
In the second quarter, “Money” Matt Bryant easily kicked a 51-yard field goal, followed by the first official receiving touchdown in the Benz Nest, a 3-yard catch by Tevin Coleman.
Don’t you worry, it was not all offense Sunday night. Healed and on his return tour, Desmond Trufant had an interception to stop a Green Bay scoring drive near the end of the half. In true Falcon style, with 47 seconds on the clock and 36 yards to go, Matt Ryan ran for 8 yards, passed over the middle to Sanu for 21 yards, had a short pass to Austin Hooper, then the touchdown pass to Coleman. The Falcons took a 24 to 7 lead into half time….to the ROAR of the crowd.
The second half started with the Packers receiving the ball, since they had chosen to give us the ball in the beginning of the game. Aaron Rodgers hands off for a quick 5 yard run by Ty Montgomery, who was quickly greeted by Deion Jones. THEN, the real excitement began. As Rodgers dropped back, Vic Beasley, Jr. sacked Rodgers, causing a fumble, which Trufant collected and ran in for a touchdown. Instantly, the Falcons now lead 31 to 7.
The teams then traded field goals, including Money’s 53-yarder. Finally, the Packers find the end zone again, go for the 2-point conversion, which fails. To be sportsmanlike, the Falcons ran some time off the clock, allowed the Packers to score another touchdown, have a successful 2-point conversion, then called it a game, running over 4 minutes off the clock and giving the ball back with just a minute and 2 seconds to go. The game ended with a Robert Alford tackle of Geronimo Allison.
De’Vondre Campbell had his first NFL sack and tallied 8 total tackles. Brian Poole started off hot once again this week, having the first and fourth tackles of the game, constantly swarming the ball carrier and ending the game with 6 total tackles. Grady Jarrett caused another couple of holds this week. Overall, the defense had many less missed tackles this week, which please Head Coach Dan Quinn, as there were double digit missed tackles in week 1. While there were only 3 sacks in the game, Rodgers became familiar with many of the Falcons defenders as he was knocked down all day, including getting to introduce himself to rookie, Takk McKinley.
Special teams was on fire once again, with Bryant tallying his 200th field goal as a Falcon, Matt Bosher had touchbacks on all 7 kickoffs, punts of 50, 45, and placement punts of 38 and 32 yards. Andre Roberts had one kickoff return of 15 yards.
Overall, it was a great game. The only negatives were the injuries. Ryan Schraeder left early in the game with a concussion, and is in concussion protocol this week, therefore unlikely to play against Detroit. Courtney Upshaw was also injured with an ankle injury, which looks to be a sprain. Upshaw had an MRI and is out against Detroit. And finally, the most devastating, possibly more as a fan than to the team overall, was Beasley. DQ reported Beasley’s injury as a hamstring sprain and is out for this week, but will be week to week after that. Early reports and rumors defined Beasley’s injury as a tear and expected to be out 4 – 6 weeks. I’m going with DQ. Beasley may be out for a couple of weeks, then we have the Bye, so we may not see Vic until after that.
As we know, DQ loves versatility and depth, so we should be ok for a few weeks with the above injuries. Recently signed, Ty Sambrailo came in and did a good job for Schraeder. Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn, and Takk McKinley will step in and up for Beasley. With no defender playing all of the defensive snaps anyway, splitting Beasley’s and Upshaw’s snaps should not be a problem. Campbell can also step in to provide line support, as he has been playing multiple positions already and proven himself to have really stepped up his game this season.
Iron Falcon Award: While many are giving the MVP of the game to Trufant, and I do love Tru, my Iron Falcon goes to Adrian Clayborn this week. If you were at the game and watching, Claybo was SO close to Rodgers all night. And for a big guy, he’s got moves. He was all over the backfield, chasing Rodgers from side to side, out of the pocket, and while he only had 1 sack, Claybo was definitely disruptive.