The legend of Matty Ice reemerged Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons rallied late to defeat the Green Bay Packers 33-32 at the Georgia Dome.
With the winds of November blowing upon the Falcons they find themselves in first place after winning a hard fought battle between two of the leagues best quarterbacks facing two of the most underperforming defenses. The crowd was not disappointed.
The Falcons found themselves involved in another shootout and after back-to-back last possession losses they corrected the ship.
Despite being down all his weapons on offense except Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers still threw four touchdown passes to a group of no name receivers.
His counterpart Matt Ryan threw three scoring strikes including hitting Mohammed Sanu from 11 yards out with 31 seconds remaining to win the game for the NFC South leaders.
It had been a while for Ryan and his legend. During his rookie season in 2008 the Falcon QB had a knack of brining the Falcons back for late game wins, thus earning the title “Matty Ice”. The legend grew over the years with very little disappointment. The first notable lack of comeback magic was in the NFC Championship game where the Falcons ran out to a 17-point lead only to see it go away and found themselves trailing as time ran out. Ryan rallied the Falcons at that time but the drive stalled at the 10. The following seasons in general have been lackluster as they haven’t had a winning season since.
Two weeks ago it appeared Ryan was regaining his magic but a fourth down pass in which Julio Jones appeared to be interfered with was a non-call costing the team the game. And last week after losing a 17-point lead to San Diego. With the score tied and only seconds remaining, once again another Ryan pass to Jones looked like a sure interference call but wasn’t. With only 6 seconds to play Ryan was able to complete another short pass setting up a 58-yard field goal attempt that fell just short. The Falcons ended up losing in overtime.
And this week the Falcons led in the first quarter – and at the end of the game. Taking a quick 3-0 lead, the Falcons surrendered it quickly as Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on their second play from scrimmage for 58 yards setting up the first of four touchdown passes. Rodgers hit Nelson a couple of plays later to take a 7-3 win.
It took Ryan and the Falcons only three plays to travel 75 yards and recapture the lead as Ryan hit Taylor Gabriel with a 47-yard strike to regain the lead.
The teams fought back and forth the second quarter with the half ending on a Mason Crosby 29-yard field goal to give Green Bay a 24-19 lead.
Defense took center stage for a change in the third quarter as both teams punted a couple of times before the Falcons mounted a drive late in the quarter. The Falcons grabbed the lead 26-24 and that’s pretty much were it stood until the Packers marched down late as Rodgers hit Jeff Janis with under four minutes remaining.
Then the legend of Matty Ice was reborn. With Jones being shut down all day – he only had three catches for 29 yards and was only targeted once in the second half, Sanu became Ryan’s go to guy on the drive. Ryan hit Sanu five times and Devonta Freeman twice with it all culminating with winning score as the first year Falcon was found in the back of the end zone with 31 ticks to go.
A collective sigh of relief was heard throughout the Georgia Dome as Matty Ice finally directed a game-winning drive, his 25th, but the first in a long time. ”They don’t call the guy Matty Ice for no reason,” Sanu said. ”The guy has ice in his veins,” said Sanu.
However there were 31 second remaining. The Falcons defense rose to the occasion. After allowing a Rodgers seven-yard completion, his next three passes fell incomplete as Rodgers faced a lot of pressure and the secondary didn’t budge as the ball was turned over on downs.
With the win the Falcons improved to 5-3 and remain in first place where they’ve been the entire month.
Halloween Madness: Falcons cheerleaders and Drum Corps dressed up for Halloween. It would have been fun to see both teams to celebrate by wearing throwback uniforms and instead of their numbers, wear famous Falcon and Packer names like Steve Bartkowski, Tommy Nobis, Bart Starr and Paul Horning. I guess a football nut can always dream.
Running Rodgers: With no real running game of record as everyone is injured Aaron Rodgers lead the Pack in rushing with 60 yards. The rest of the team only gained 48 yards collectively. It was the first 100 yard game the Falcons defense gave up all month. The Falcons were held under 100 yards for the first time in weeks gaining 90.
Passing It Around: Ryan spread the ball out to eight different receivers Sunday extending his NFL record of consecutive 200-plus yard passing games (47).
More Stuff That Only Interests Me: There was only one punt in the first half and only one kickoff return.
The Falcons have short week as they play Thursday night looking to get even with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who defeated them in the season opener. They will be on the road at Raymond James Stadium. The game will be aired on the NFL Network.
– Dave Weinthal
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