Atlanta Falcons: The good, bad and ugly from Week 14


It was 8:20 on Monday night and I had just gotten home from work. I made a late dinner and turned on the TV to watch the Atlanta Falcons face one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers.

The Falcons were on the road and huge underdogs but just like pre-season there is always hope before the whistle blows.  Then the whistle blew.  Aaron Rodgers cut through the Falcons defense like a hot knife through butter and it appeared the route had begun.  Atlanta answered with an opening TD of their own but the Packers offense had no mercy and ended up scoring on every drive of the 1st half.

At the half, it was 31-7, and the hope I had pre-game turned into despair of what I would include in the recap. And then, the second half happened.  The Atlanta offense looked like the top 5 offense I’ve been talking about all year and the NFL’s worst defense, while still allowing points, held the Packers to FG’s instead of TD’s. The Packers still held on for the 43-37 victory, but I’d argue the Falcons were more impressive in the Monday night loss then they did in any of their five wins.

There is another positive to take away from their week 14 loss, the 5-8 Atlanta Falcons are still leading the NFC South.  So without further adieu, let’s get into what the Falcons got right, and what they got wrong in their primetime matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

The Good – Julio Jones

Julio Jones has been unstoppable on the field his last two games and for the better part of his 4th season in the NFL.  Against Green Bay, Julio shredded the Packer secondary for a franchise record 259 yards on 11 catches.  His route running has been masterful and his ability to rise up(excuse the Falcon pun) above the defensive backs separates him from most other NFL WR’s other than maybe Calvin Johnson.  Over his last two games Julio has brought in 21 catches for a whopping total of 448 yards.  Julio now leads the NFL in yards with 1,428 yards which is already 230 more than he had in year two when he ended with 1,198 yards.  Jones did find himself on the sideline at the end of the Monday night affair with a hip injury.  Julio did not participate during the open portion of practice Thursday but Mike Smith has no officially ruled him out of the game vs. the Steelers.  Obviously for the Falcons to remain in first and have any hope in the playoffs, they will need Julio Jones to remain healthy.

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The Bad – Rush defense

For most of the year, the Atlanta run defense has not been a liability and has been the strongest part of the much maligned Falcons defense.  That was not the case vs. the Packers.  Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, and Eddie Lacy ran through and around the Falcons defense on their way to 176 yds on just 28 carries.  Green Bay only averages 114 yards/g on the ground so the 176 yard outburst wasn’t expected and certainly lengthened some Green Bay drives as the Atlanta defense struggled to get off the field.

The Ugly – Lack of Defensive Stops

The Packers had the ball a total of 9 times (not including the kneel downs) and put points on the board on 8 of them.  They forced 0 turnovers and only forced the Packers to punt one time.  I would say that even the worst defenses in the NFL don’t give up that much but the Falcons are the worst defense in the NFL so apparently that actually does happen.  In a game that ended up 43-37, it’s not far-fetched to believe that just ONE extra stop by the Falcons defense leads to a Falcons victory against the best team in the NFL on the road.  Green Bay converted 7 out of 12 3rd downs but only one those led to a punt.  The Packers kicked 3 FG’s and I refuse to count the kneel down at the end of the game as a 3rd down stop.  The Falcons proved that they can hang with any offense in any environment but I’m not sure even they can put enough points to cover 8 scoring drives.  Luckily for the Falcons, they will not see anything like that Packers offense in the final three games(PIT, NO, CAR) so if they can manage to find a few stops here and there, the Atlanta offense should be able to take care of the rest.

Be sure to check back in for all the latest on the Julio Jones injury and the week 15 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.