Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Packers 33, Atlanta 25. The Packers put it all together in Atlanta. RB Samkon Gado ran the ball, the defense forced multiple turnovers, QB Brett Favre limited his turnovers to one interception, and K Ryan Longwell made all his attempted kicks. P B.J. Sander botched another snap and took one field goal attempt away from Longwell, but that was as bad as it got.

In some ways, it was just another game for the Packers. Although the running game came alive after a season of slumber, it was against the 29th best run defense. Although the kick return unit had their longest return of the season, it was only returned out to the 35 yard line. The kick coverage was good, but Atlanta struggles returning kicks almost mimic the Packers' struggles.

The biggest differences between this game versus the seven losses is that the Packers won the turnover battle and Longwell made all his kicks.

First Quarter: Although Gado held onto the ball against Pittsburgh, he had his first of two fumbles. Both fumbles were recovered, but it was just lucky that the ball bounced the Packers way. RB ReShard Lee lost his chance to start due to fumbles too, so apparently the Packers have more faith in Gado than Lee at this point. Gado has good accelleration through the holes opened by the offensive line and his speed made his 10 and 20 yard gains possible. The offensive line had their best game of the season too and made Gado's big game possible. The Packers run defense struggled in the first half. RB Warrick Dunn had some good runs and there were a couple of missed tackles. Although Atlanta ran the ball, QB Michael Vick didn't make any big plays and couldn't push the ball downfield to his wide receivers. The Packers use of the blitz on defense was the best it had been all season; the blitzers, such as CB Al Harris, were able to put pressure on Vick while not allowing him the chance to exploit single coverage downfield. Use of the blitz has killed the Packers at various times this season because they can't get to the quarterback before he can exploit the single coverage it creates. Packers 14, Atlanta 0.

Second Quarter: The Packers gave up two touchdowns pretty quick. The Favre interception and the pass interference by CB Ahmad Carroll brought back memories of various Packer losses this season. A big play that may have turned the game back around was the sack of Vick by DE Aaron Kampman. Atlanta was at the Packers 35 yard line on second down, driving for a go-ahead score when Vick dropped back to pass, felt pressure from his left, rolled to his right towards Kampman, who pushed his blocker into Vick, and made the sack. It led to a punt and Atlanta never got closer to a lead in the game. It was good to see LB Na'il Diggs back after a seven week injury absence. He rotated in and out with LBs Paris Lenon and Brady Poppinga but was probably on the field more than either player. Diggs played well, but seemed a step behind on each play, understandable considering he was returning from a serious knee injury. Packers 17, Atlanta 14.

Third Quarter: The offense played well, but this was the defense's quarter. Atlanta couldn't run the ball and ran no play for more than 10 yards. DT Kenny Peterson forced a fumble, LB Nick Barnett blitzed Vick, and the Packers scored points off the turnovers. Peterson has played very well the last couple of weeks, alongwith DT Colin Cole, both creating an inside pass rush. On the fumble, Peterson was actually a substitution for DE KGB at defensive end, so his versatility has been an asset too. Packers 23, Atlanta 14.

Fourth Quarter: The punt coverage fails and lets Atlanta start at the Packer 26 yard line, but the defense holds Atlanta to a field goal. The offense can't push it into the end zone, settling for field goals, until WR Rodney White helps with a fumble that is returned to the 2 yard line. Gado's TD run effectively ended the game. The Packers prevent defense helped Atlanta get close with a touchdown drive and 2 point converstion, but failed on side kick ends the game. Packers 33, Atlanta 25.

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