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(Sunday, November 28th)
Final Score: Atlanta 20, Green Bay 17
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Bryant connected on a 47-yard field goal with nine seconds left to give the Atlanta Falcons a 20-17 win in a hard- fought battle with the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome.
Matt Ryan was 24-for-28 with 198 yards and a score and Michael Turner added 110 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for the Falcons (9-2), who have won their past five games. Tony Gonzalez had six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
"We talked all week about controlling the tempo in all three phases of the game and I think we did that today," said Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. "We played a very good team today. We made plays, they made plays. We made mistakes and they made mistakes. But I'm really proud of the way the guys played today."
The win allowed Atlanta to stay a game ahead of New Orleans, which defeated Dallas on Thanksgiving, for the top spot in the NFC South.
"It was a really big win for the team today," said Ryan. "We have a tough stretch coming up here with three road games and we have to prepare for a big game in Tampa next week."
Aaron Rodgers finished the contest with 344 yards and a score on 26-of-35 passing and added 51 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown for the Packers (7-4), who came into the contest with a four-game winning streak. Jordy Nelson caught a touchdown pass that had tied the game in the final minute.
"We knew coming in here that it was going to be a 60-minute game and that's what it was," said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "Atlanta made one more play than we did. We need to do a better job of making those big plays in these big games."
Green Bay now sits a game behind Chicago, which downed Philadelphia on Sunday, for the top spot in the NFC North.
"It's disappointing that we didn't come away here with the win," said Rodgers. "We didn't do very well converting third downs today and had 17 points in four red zone trips. That's where we lost the game."
The Packers had tied the game on Nelson's score with 56 seconds to play, but Eric Weems returned the kickoff to the Atlanta 36 and a facemask call against Matt Wilhelm moved the ball past midfield.
"To get the ball near midfield to start the drive and knowing you need only 20 yards or so makes things a lot easier on the offense," said Ryan.
Four straight completions by Ryan totaled 20 yards and moved the ball to the Green Bay 29. After an incompletion, Bryant connected on his first attempt, but Green Bay had called timeout prior to the kick. Unfazed, Bryant hit the next one true with nine seconds left for a 20-17 lead.
"I can't say enough about Matt, he kicks it between the pipes every chance he gets," said Smith.
Greg Jennings caught the ball over the middle on the final play and took it 35 yards, but his attempt to lateral the ball went out of bounds to end the game.
Green Bay tied the game halfway through the third quarter, but Atlanta responded on its next drive to take the lead back.
On 3rd-and-9 at their 14, the Falcons moved the sticks on a 10-yard catch from Jason Snelling. A 12-yard catch from Roddy White gave the team another third down conversion and Turner put Atlanta into the red zone with a 26-yard run around the right end.
The Falcons then got the ball to the one for a 1st-and-goal, but Snelling and Turner were stopped on consecutive runs to end the third quarter. The next play saw Gonzalez catch the ball with his body in the end zone, but the ball never crossed the goal line and it was ruled no score. Atlanta asked for a replay and the call was upheld to force a fourth down, which the team used to get into the end zone as Turner ran around the left end for a 17-10 lead with 14:24 left in the game.
Green Bay got a couple of first downs on its next touch and moved the ball across midfield, but a 4th-and-1 pass to Donald Driver bounced out of his hands and Atlanta took over.
The Packers defense, though, limited Atlanta to just one first down and the offense got the ball back at its own 10-yard line with under six minutes to play.
Rodgers completed a 19-yard pass to Andrew Quarless on 2nd-and-15 and two straight runs then got the ball past midfield. A 15-yard catch by Jennings moved the ball to the 30 and an 18-yard reception by James Jones on 4th-and-1 set up a 1st-and-goal at the three-yard line.
The next three plays saw Green Bay lose two yards and force a fourth down. A false start moved the ball back another five yards, but Rodgers had perfect protection that gave him the time to find Nelson at the left side of the end zone to tie the game with 56 seconds left.
However, Atlanta had plenty of time to go back down the field for the winning field goal.
Atlanta started the game with the ball and got three points as Bryant's 38- yard attempt split the uprights with 9:31 left in the first quarter. Facing a 3rd-and-20 on the previous play, Atlanta was unable to get the first down, but made it a more manageable attempt with a 14-yard catch from Michael Jenkins.
After an exchange of possessions, the Packers were able to tie the game on Mason Crosby's 22-yard field goal with just four seconds left in the first quarter.
Green Bay forced a three-and-out from Atlanta and went on a lengthy drive. The first play went for 31 yards to Brett Swain and 15 yards was added as Swain was shoved down after he went out of bounds. Green Bay later got a 1st-and- goal and on third down Rodgers attempted to dive in, but the ball popped loose and Atlanta recovered in the end zone for the touchback.
The Falcons turned the mistake into points with a drive that killed all but the final eight seconds of the first half clock. Atlanta got the ball past midfield, but Ryan was then sacked for nine yards. An incompletion on the next play saw the team face a long third down and it fell short as Ryan and Ovie Mughelli hooked up for 16 yards. However, the team went for it and Gonzalez came up with a six-yard catch to move the chains.
Two plays later, Gonzalez took a pass 21 yards down to the five for a 1st-and- goal. After the next two snaps managed just one yard, Atlanta called a timeout and Ryan found Gonzalez wide open in the end zone to give the team a 10-3 lead heading into the break.
The second half started with each team punting once, but the Packers were able to tie the game on their second touch of the third.
Facing a 3rd-and-2 on the first set of downs, Rodgers hit Jennings on a short pass and he turned it into 34 yards to get the ball to the Atlanta 38. The Packers got another big play on third down as Nelson's 28-yard catch got the ball to the one and Rodgers took the ball in on the next play to tie the game with 7:17 left in the third.
The Falcons play in Tampa Bay next week...Rodgers' fumble was his first of the season and the first turnover for Green Bay since Week 7...Green Bay hosts San Francisco next Sunday...Jennings had five catches for 119 yards and Nelson finished with five catches for 61 yards...The Packers outgained the Falcons, 418-295, but was edged on time of possession as Atlanta had the ball 31:40...The series between these teams is now tied, 13-13 as Atlanta has taken three of the last four.
11/28 19:30:18 ET