Green Bay Packers' Matt Flynn throws during the
first half of an NFL football game against the
Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay,
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A
smattering of boos cascaded down on the Green Bay
Packers at the half, trailing by double digits on a
bone-chilling afternoon at Lambeau Field.
This wasn't a good sign for a team that hasn't played
well late in games, especially without injured
quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Coach Mike McCarthy went into
the locker room wondering how much energy his players
had with the team's playoff prospects in jeopardy.
Green Bay responded with its most complete performance
in weeks. Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards and a maligned
defense forced a key fourth-quarter turnover in a 22-21
victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that ended a
five-game winless stretch.
"Good to win, it's been a while. Forgot what it felt
like," McCarthy said.
"But I'll say this — I really like the football team,
particularly at halftime, coming in, getting booed at
home, and just the energy in the locker room. They never
blinked, they stayed the course," said the even-keeled
It came down to defense in the final few minutes of a
nail-biting fourth quarter.
Mike Neal's sack forced Matt Ryan to fumble, and
defensive lineman Johnny Jolly scooped up the loose ball
and celebrated with a little belly dance. Four plays
later, Flynn found Andrew Quarless for a 2-yard
touchdown pass for the 22-21 lead for the Packers
(6-6-1) with about 12 minutes left.
"We needed to have fun. That's what we did today," Jolly
said. "We went out there and left everything that we had
and made plays and had fun."
Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy celebrates with fans
after his touchdown run.
Quarless' TD completed a
comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit and whipped
the bundled-up fans into a frigid frenzy.
It was 9 degrees when the game started, with a wind
chill of minus-1. The stadium looked as if it was
encased in a snow globe at times with much of the game
played while light, powdery snowflakes gently fell to
the worn turf.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal
attempt into the wind with 6:42 left. The Falcons (3-10)
got to the 33 with 2 minutes left, but Tony Gonzalez
dropped a short pass from Ryan under tight coverage by
The Falcons, who play home games at the Georgia Dome,
didn't think weather was as much of a factor as the
"We can't talk about one specific play that was the
difference," coach Mike Smith said. "We had our chances
to make some plays in all three phases and we didn't."
Green Bay Packers fan Jeff Kahlow makes his way to
Lambeau Field before an NFL football game against
the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green
Flynn finished 24 for 32
with an interception in his second start for Rodgers,
who has been out since fracturing his left collarbone
during a 27-20 loss to the Bears on Nov. 4.
It's been a struggle ever since for Green Bay, which
fell from first place in the NFC North to fighting to
stay in the playoff chase.
"We played our best football in the second half, and as
a coach that's what you look for in your football team,"
It didn't look so good for Green Bay after linebacker
Sean Weatherspoon's 71-yard interception return with 23
seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Falcons
a 21-10 lead and prompted some fans to voice their
Atlanta Falcons' Paul Worrilow sacks Green Bay
Matt Flynn during the second half.
A pass from Flynn appeared
to carom off linebacker Paul Worrilow's shoe and chest
and into the hands of Weatherspoon. He slowly trudged
his way back up the field past Packers who thought the
ball touched the ground.
Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang whiffed on a tackled
around the 22. From there, the 6-foot-2, 244-pound
Weatherspoon got a slow-motion escort into the end zone.
"It was a great play and something that sparked us, but
we came out a little bit lackadaisical on defense if you
ask me in the second half," Weatherspoon said.
Brad Bauer, left, and Jake Hoernke arrive at Lambeau
Ryan finished 20 of 35 for
206 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while
Steven Jackson had 71 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Otherwise, a Green Bay defense that had allowed more
than 200 yards rushing in each of its previous two games
NOTES: Mason Crosby kicked three field goals,
including a 25-yarder late in the third quarter to get
Green Bay within 21-16. ... Packers RB Eddie Lacy had 65
yards and a 1-yard touchdown run on 20 carries. He
returned in the second half after twisting his right
ankle. ... Falcons S Thomas DeCoud left with a head
injury on Lacy's score at the end of the first quarter.