Matt Ryan hooked up with Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds left for the go-ahead touchdown and the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers 33-32 in front of 70,165 at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons improve to 5-3 and sit atop the NFC South. The Packers are 4-3 and are 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.
Sunday’s win was important for the Falcons because they lost two straight games and the defense was hung out to dry in both contests. However, the defense made plays on the final drive and were able to force Packers QB Aaron Rodgers off the field preventing a last second opportunity for a game winning field goal.
“I was extremely proud of our effort and fight tonight,” Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn said. “No doubt this game was going to go all the way. Both quarterbacks were on fire the entire game. The last two weeks have been extremely hard on us as some finishes went. We’re a resilient group and as a coach honestly we wanted that opportunity to come back and do that again. The fans were into it the whole day for us. It was such an advantage so it was a great win to dedicate to them. We’ve got much to improve on in a short time getting ready for another division opponent this week. Man are we proud of our effort and toughness as a team. They’re a very resilient group.”
Matt Ryan finished up 28/35 for 288 yards and threw three touchdown passes. His quarterback rating was 129.5. He extended his 200+ yards passing streak to 47 games. Ryan also beautifully managed the four-minute drill. He completed 9/11 passes for 75 yards on the final drive and took advantage of a match-up with Sanu locked in man coverage with Packers linebacker James Ryan. Sanu took his route up the seam, got past the linebacker, there was no safety help over the top and caught the game winning touchdown.
“I thought it was a great call,” Matt Ryan said in his postgame press conference. “We had seen so much double coverage to Julio – honestly, I think every snap he was in he got doubled today – so we had Mohamed Sanu right inside of it, we had a matchup that we liked on the linebacker. (Sanu) did a great job staying patient with the route and that’s what he’s brought to this team. He’s a big body, excellent in the red zone. I thought he did a great job all day. But, for me, I saw an opportunity to give him a high ball in the end zone and he made a great catch and came down and got his feet in which was nice to see.”
Wide receiver Julio Jones appeared to injure his ankle in the first half of Sunday’s game. He caught three passes for 29 yards and yet he was double-teamed every single play.
“Today, their defensive coordinator just said they were going to double Julio,” Mr. Jones said. “It was cool. [Mohamed] Sanu did some great things out there for us today. Hopefully, we can continue to keep building on that with Sanu and the other guys. [Taylor] Gabriel made a couple plays for us. When they kept doubling me like that, Sanu had the talent to step up and make those plays.”
Speaking of the other guys, Taylor Gabriel three passes for 68 yards and scored his first touchdown in a Falcons uniform. Rookie tight end Austin Hooper caught five passes for 41 yards and Mohamed Sanu caught nine passes for 84 yards and the game winning touchdown.
The Atlanta Falcons have a short week and will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Thursday. Kickoff will be 8:25PM EDT from Raymond James Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on the NFL Network.
The images in this article are by the Associated Press.