Senior writer jclombardi reviews & grades Packers win over Falcons.
Summary: QB Rodgers threw 3 touchdowns and rushed for 1 touchdown as the Packers crushed the Falcons 48-21. Next Sunday, the Packers face the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game.
Game balls: QB Rodgers; WR Nelson; WR Jones; CB Williams; LB Matthews.
Injury Report: CB Lee (hip). FB Kuhn (neck stinger) and NT Raji (head) are okay.
Report Card–Good, Bad, & Ugly: JC vs SE:
Pass Offense–A vs A-. QB Rodgers was unstoppable making clutch throws while avoiding pressure and throwing accurate deep passes. He completed 36 passes for 366 yards, three touchdowns, and 136.8 passer rating ripping overmatched Falcons secondary. He completed passes to eight different receivers. WRs Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson combined for an amazing 26 catches for 331 yards. WR Jennings had 8 catches for 101 yards and 1 big fumble. WR Nelson made 8 clutch catches for 79 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Driver had 6 clutch catches for 76 yards. WR Jones made 4 clutch catches for 75 yards and 1 big touchdown. Also, FB Kuhn had 2 catches for 14 yards and 1 touchdown. While rookie RT Bulaga generally played solid overall game giving up only 1 sack, no pressure, and solid run blocking. RT Clifton struggled in pass protection giving up soft protection and 1 sack.
Rush Offense–C+ vs C. The Packers rushed a pedestrian 96 yards on 31 carries averaging 3.1 yards. RB Starks had his moments running with power and speed getting 66 yards on 25 carries. In the first half, he got only 14 yards on 9 carries. In the second half, he got 4 carries for 27 yards on a big touchdown drive. RB Jackson had 1 carry for 13 yards. FB Kuhn rushed for 1 touchdown. QB Rodgers had 1 red zone touchdown.
Pass Defense–B+ vs A-. DC Capers defensive plan worked getting strong blitz pressure defense to rattle Falcons QB Ryan. Facing blitz pressure and tight coverage, Falcons QB Ryan completed only 20 of 29 passes for 1 touchdown, 186 yards, 2 big interceptions, 1 fumble, and horrible 69 passer rating. WR White had 6 catches for 57 yards and 1 touchdown. In the span of two and one-half minutes before the first half, CB Williams had a touchback interception and then scored on a momentum changing interception. The Packers had five big sacks on blitzes.
Rush Defense—C+ vs C+. In the first half, RB Turner had 9 carries for 37 yards and 1 touchdown. In the second half, with the Falcons facing a rout, he had only 1 carry. For the game, RB Turner had only 10 carries for 39 yards averaging 3.9 yards. The effective weapon against Turner was to force the Falcons into their passing game and make Ryan commit mistakes. CB Woodson had 6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hit, while LB Bishop had 6 tackles and 1 fumble recovery. OLB Matthews had an overall impressive game with 4 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks and 2 QB hits.
Special teams—D+ vs D. Punter Masthay, who wasn’t needed to punt once, was off the hook from a lot of blame to go around with another lousy performance by the special-teams units. Eric Weems added to Green Bay’s malaise in the early going with a record-setting 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 14-7. Then, Starks inexplicably tried to field the ensuing kickoff as it sailed toward the sideline and the ball glanced off him out of bounds inside the Packers’ 10. Starks averaged just 10 yards in two runbacks. Also, the Packers tried Pat Lee on another kickoff. Williams didn’t have a punt return with two fair catches. Crosby rallied after a 50-yard field-goal attempt hit off the left upright with makes of 43 and 32 yards.
Coaching–A- vs B. Maligned special teams coordinator Slocum can thank his colleagues for bailing him out with a dominating performance by the offense and defense. Head coach/play caller McCarthy had his finest hours in orchestrating the offense on an injury-marred secondary. McCarthy didn’t abandon the effective running game to do so intermixing runs to soften up the Falcons even more on play-action. DC Capers also applied the full-court pressure in the indoor venue, shaking, rattling and rolling Ryan out of his unflappable tendencies in the pocket with a heavy dose of blitzes. The Packers finished with big advantages in total yards (442-194) and time of possession (38:19-21:41). The Packers were 8 for 12 in third down conversions and 4 for 6 in the red zone. They had 6 penalties for 65 yards and 1 fumble.
Overall Game—A- vs. A (CBS Sportsline). With the score tied at 14, QB Rodgers took over & never looked back. Rodgers threw for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite team’s No. 6 seed, Packers are likely favorite to represent NFC in Super Bowl.