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Fast Start Fades as Falcons Fall to 2-3 in 25-14 Loss to Packers

It’s official – the Falcons are in trouble.

Sunday night at the Georgia Dome the Falcons looked to make a statement against the team that knocked them out of the postseason last January – the Green Bay Packers. They went up 14-0, but then were unable to do anything after that as they fell to 2-3 on the season after a frustrating 25-14 loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.

Rodgers threw for a pair of scores as part of a second-half barrage, keeping the Packers unbeaten and putting the Falcons season in a lot of doubt just five weeks into it. Remember, this is the same Atlanta team that lost three games all of the 2010 regular season.

The Packers QB went 26-of-39 for 396 yards on the night. He threw the go-ahead 70- yard touchdown pass to James Jones with 3:42 left in the third quarter, and it took the air right out of the dome.

Rodgers added a 29-yard strike to Greg Jennings on an acrobatic scoring play to begin the final quarter. Mason Crosby kicked four field goals, including a 56-yarder that equaled his own franchise record.

Jones had five catches for 140 yards for the Packers (5-0), whose 11-game winning streak is their longest since a 12-game run in 1961-62. They are 5-0 for the first time since 1965 when Green Bay won its first six contests, on the way to an NFL championship.

Matt Ryan finished 18-of-32 for 167 yards with a score and a pair of interceptions for the Falcons, who couldn’t gain a measure of revenge after losing to Green Bay, 48-21, at the Dome in the divisional round of the playoffs last season.

Rodgers finally gave the Packers the lead on the first play following a punt. Jones beat safety Thomas DeCoud over the middle, and it was off to the races on the 70-yard score, giving Rodgers his 100th career touchdown pass. The two- point conversion pass to Jermichael Finley was broken up in the left side of the end zone, leaving Green Bay with a 15-14 edge.

For the second straight possession, Ryan failed to lead his team to a first down, but Rodgers converted a pair of third downs on the ensuing drive, a 22- yard play to Finley and a 10-yard connection to Randall Cobb.

That pushed the ball to the 29, and on the opening play of the fourth, Jennings caught a short pass over the middle, veered to the left sideline before tight-roping it before going mid-air and using his right hand to stretch the ball over the pylon.

A key play came one minute later when the Packers won a replay challenge. Harry Douglas caught a ball along the right sideline to seemingly move the chains to the chains with a 21-yard gain on 3rd-and-7 to the Atlanta 46. Tramon Williams, though, was ruled to have knocked the ball loose as Douglas was going out of bounds, forcing a punt.

Faced with a 2nd-and-21 from the Green Bay 40, Ryan forced a ball in to Tony Gonzalez, but the ball went off the tight end’s hands and off the helmet of safety Charlie Peprah, who came up with the interception.

Green Bay then ate up 6:22 off the clock with a 12-play, 66-yard drive, ending it on Crosby’s sealing 30-yard field goal with 1:10 left. The big plays came when Rodgers hit Finley with a 24-yard gain and Jones for 21.

Ryan was intercepted by Jarrett Bush in the closing seconds.

The Falcons converted a trio of third downs during the game’s opening possession, a 13-play, 80-yard march that chewed nearly seven minutes off the clock. It ended on Ryan’s five-yard TD toss to the left side for Roddy White.

Cornerback Brent Grimes stripped Ryan Grant of the football during a running play to thwart Green Bay’s first drive.

Atlanta capitalized on the turnover as Michael Turner busted off right guard for a one-yard TD plunge to cap the 60-yard drive in 6:05.

Crosby kicked a 32-yard field goal with 5:26 left in the half, shortly after Rodgers connected with Jennings on a 39-yard pass that brought the ball to the four. Atlanta’s defense, despite being without linebacker John Abraham (hip) sacked Rodgers on two straight downs prior to Crosby’s kick.

A 35-yard boot by Crosby with eight seconds left in the half had Green Bay within 14-6. The Packers should have been in the end zone, but Finley dropped a perfectly-thrown ball at the goal line on third down.

Crosby drilled his 56-yard kick, with plenty of distance to spare, with 5:28 left in the third. Rodgers threw a 30-yard pass to Jones to convert a 3rd- and-11 from the Green Bay 15.


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