Lacy, Packers hold off Falcons rally for 43-37 win

December 9, 2014

Atlanta Falcons' Desmond Trufant tackles Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb (18)
after a catch during the first half.

GREEN BAY, Wis.  Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers powered the Green Bay Packers to another big first half in a home victory.

But the Atlanta Falcons' furious late rally provided the Packers' potential playoff foes some hope.

Maybe Lambeau Field won't be that impenetrable after all in the postseason.

Lacy ran for a touchdown and caught one of Rodgers' three TD passes, and Green Bay built a 24-point halftime lead before holding on for a 43-37 victory Monday night.

The Packers (10-3) earned their fifth consecutive victory to stay a game up on Detroit in the NFC North. They remained tied with Arizona for the NFC's best record.

"There's been some ups and downs on both sides of the ball all season," Rodgers said. "But we're really getting this home-field advantage thing going, with the crowd noise, with the footing, with the way we're playing being really balanced on offense."

Rodgers acknowledged there may have been a "slight relaxation" at halftime up 24.

Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy celebrates his touchdown run during the first half.

What matters most in the end to Green Bay is that it held on for a victory, even though this win didn't go quite according to the script the Packers had written earlier this year against NFC foes.

"Defensively, a tale of two halves. You have to give Atlanta's offense a lot of credit," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We have plenty to clean up."

The Falcons dropped to 5-8, but remained in a first-place tie with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.

Julio Jones had a career-best 259 yards receiving for the Falcons before leaving with a hip injury. Jones had a 22-yard touchdown catch in a 20-point fourth quarter that helped Atlanta cut into Green Bay's big lead.

Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas with 2:15 left got Atlanta within six.

But the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick, and backup running back James Starks effectively ended Atlanta's upset hopes with a 41-yard run to the Falcons 6 with 1:37 left.

The Falcons had won three of four coming into the game. They haven't lost hope that they can still make the playoffs.

"Yeah, absolutely. We scored 37 points tonight. If you can't believe in that, then you don't need to be in this locker room, we need to cut some people," receiver Roddy White said.

Coach Mike Smith said it was difficult to lose Jones late. But the Falcons did damage even with their No. 1 receiver hobbling on the sideline.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, right, talks to Atlanta Falcons head coach
Mike Smith before the game starts.

Ryan threw for 375 yards and four scores, including a 1-yard touchdown catch by White with 6:20 left that trimmed Green Bay's lead to 40-30. Jones didn't come out for Atlanta's failed 2-point conversion attempt.

"Difficult. There's probably never a good time for an injury, but that's part of the game," Ryan said.

Mason Crosby kicked a 53-yard field goal with 4:37 left, helping the Packers withstand Atlanta's final punch.

Rodgers finished 24 of 36 for 327 yards. Lacy had 73 yards on 13 carries, and 33 yards on five catches.

The tough running back wiggled from side to side to celebrate his 1-yard touchdown reception with 4:20 left in the second quarter. The score was set up by safety Morgan Burnett's interception.

Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones is tripped up by Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams
after a catch during the second half.

Later, Rodgers sidestepped his way out of a late blitz by Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann and found Jordy Nelson in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left in the half. Rodgers and Nelson connected on a 60-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Nelson finished with eight catches for 146 yards.

Jones was even better, catching 11 of the 17 passes thrown in his direction. His 79-yard catch-and-run to the Packers 3 on the first play of the third quarter set up a 5-yard touchdown catch by Eric Weems on fourth down.

It was a sign of things to come in the second half before Green Bay was able to hang on at the end.

"We can't play one half or three quarters or anything like that," linebacker Julius Peppers said. "We've got to finish games."

NOTES: Lacy was pulled in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. He said he thought he would be OK, though he was sidelined as a precaution. Asked when the injury occurred, Lacy joked, "Whenever I ran into the two big dudes." ... Starks finished with 75 yards on 10 carries. ... McCarthy tied Vince Lombardi with 98 career victories, second on the franchise list behind Curly Lambeau (209). ... S Dwight Lowery had a team-high 13 tackles and a forced fumble for Atlanta.

Son: Bart Starr making slow, steady recovery

GREEN BAY, Wis.  Bart Starr, one of the Green Bay Packers most beloved quarterbacks, is making slow, but steady progress after recently suffering two strokes, a heart attack and seizures, his son says.

Bart Starr Jr. stood in for his father at a Rawhide charity fundraising event near Green Bay on Monday and was eager to tell the crowd about a text he had received just hours earlier while traveling to Wisconsin. His dad had taken his first steps in about three months since suffering two strokes, a heart attack and seizures in Alabama.

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2012 file photo former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr waves to fans during an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis. Bart Starr Jr. said Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 that his father is making slow, but steady progress after recently suffering two strokes, a heart attack and seizures. The 80-year-old Starr played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971.

"This process," Starr Jr. said, "it's not linear. You have to make a little progress, then you struggle a little bit, then you make a little progress and so forth. But when you do have one of those steps, it's something to celebrate."

Starr Jr. says he's cautiously optimistic his father, who turns 81 next month, will be able to return to the Rawhide event next year and also make an appearance at Lambeau Field. But, that the first weeks after the health setbacks were full of uncertainty.

"The first problem is there's only so much you can take and the issue is whether you're going to survive at all," he said. "After that, it's how much you can recover? This is a big, big deal in terms of recovery so we can get him back to this event and Packers games."

Starr Jr. said his father wants to return to Green Bay when Brett Favre's jersey is retired. Starr was scheduled to appear with Favre when the Packers hosted the Chicago Bears on Nov. 9, but his health issues postponed the event. Favre also appeared at the Rawhide event in Ashwaubenon Monday.

Starr, who played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971, led the Packers to five NFL championships as well as the first two Super Bowls.

Packers maintain top spot in AP Pro32 rankings

NEW YORK  Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers hung on to the NFL's top spot after a closer-than-expected win against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Packers (10-3) received nine of 12 first-place votes Tuesday in the AP Pro32 power rankings, which are decided by a media panel that regularly covers the league.

The Packers led 31-7 at the half before getting a 43-37 victory over the Falcons on Monday night.

"(Packers) defense looked very shaky in home win," Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said.

The New England Patriots (10-3) earned two first-place votes and remained No. 2 after their 23-14 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.

"An impressive road win in San Diego," ESPN's Herm Edwards said of the Patriots. "Darrelle Revis is making a huge impact for that defense."

With tiebreakers against the other AFC division leaders, the Patriots are in a strong position to grab the top seed in the AFC. The can clinch the AFC East again with a victory at home over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

"Tom Brady has been a screaming maniac on the sidelines this year. A very simple reason why: He knows this can be a special season a Super Bowl season and he wants to make certain everyone around him is prepared to seize the moment," Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

The Seattle Seahawks (9-4) grabbed the other first-place vote and moved up from No. 5 to No. 3 after a 24-12 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We're now seeing a Seattle team that looks a lot like last year's Super Bowl winner, and that identity is returning at the right time in the season," said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback said.

The Denver Broncos (10-3) and the Eagles (9-4) each dropped one spot to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

The Arizona Cardinals (10-3) moved up to No. 6 after a 17-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that ended a two-game losing streak.

"The Cardinals will probably make the playoffs, but a four-game stretch in which Arizona hasn't scored more than 18 points doesn't bode well for upcoming games against St. Louis and Seattle,"'s Alex Marvez said.

The Indianapolis Colts (9-4), who can clinch the AFC South win a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, are at No. 7.

"The Colts are overcoming both the opposition and themselves of late," Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News said.

The Detroit Lions (9-4), Dallas Cowboys (9-4) and Baltimore Ravens (8-5) rounded out the top 10.

The Eagles and Cowboys play Sunday night in a matchup that could go a long way toward deciding the NFC East title.

It's a rematch of Philadelphia's 33-10 win on Thanksgiving. The game is in Philadelphia, but the Cowboys are 6-0 on the road this season.

"Will they finally win a must-win game in December?" NBC Sports' Tony Dungy asked of the Cowboys.

The Washington Redskins (3-10), who have lost five in a row, fell to No. 30 ahead of only the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, who are both 2-11.

"Robert Griffin III has already had more lives in the nation's capital than Richard Nixon," said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.


Associated Press