Monday, December 10, 2018

Green Bay On Point Against Atlanta

By Eric Goska
The Packers scored 34 unanswered points against the Falcons Sunday.
Running back Aaron Jones capped Green Bay's point parade with a 29-yard TD run.
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
The Atlanta Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening possession against the Packers Sunday.

Then the roof fell in.

Green Bay returned fire after Atlanta’s opening salvo, embarking on its best scoring spree of the season. The run on points effectively overwhelmed the Falcons who tumbled 34-20 at Lambeau Field.

As the Bears, Redskins, 49ers, and Patriots did earlier this season to the Packers, Atlanta cruised to a touchdown the first time it had the ball. It hummed 75 yards in seven plays taking but three minutes, 24 seconds off the game clock.

The payoff was a 16-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones.

With three receptions, Jones accounted for 63 yards on that opening drive. Among his catches were gains of 28 and 19 that withstood red-flag challenges from Green Bay.

Up 7-0, Atlanta petered out. It didn’t score again until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

By then, Green Bay had poured on enough points to withstand all but the most improbable of comebacks.

Surrendering a touchdown early can be unnerving. How the scored-upon party responds can be telling.

Green Bay’s reply to Atlanta consisted of 34 unanswered points. The Packers counted seven in the first quarter, 13 in the second and 14 in the third.

The outburst was the team’s most one-sided since Nov. 9, 2014, when it ripped off 45 in a row while shellacking the Bears 55-14.

Against the Falcons, Green Bay posted four touchdowns and two field goals. It scored on five of its first six possessions.

Davante Adams kicked off the festivities by taking a seven-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers midway through the first quarter. The end zone visit was Adam’s 12th this season as a receiver, tying his career best of 2016.

Aaron Jones capped the explosion with a 29-yard burst up the middle in the third quarter. For Jones, it marked the fifth consecutive game in which he has rushed for a touchdown.

In between, Randall Cobb hit paydirt for the first time since opening day, and Bashaud Breeland nabbed a pick-six. Mason Crosby booted a pair of field goals from 50 and 48 yards out.

Since 1921, nearly 200 teams have scored touchdowns on their opening possessions against the Packers. Green Bay’s record in those games is 62-133-2 (.320).

The numbers are a bit misleading. In the last eight seasons, the Packers actually have a winning record (19-13) in games in which the opposition scored touchdowns on their opening drives.

What is rare is Green Bay piling on as it did Sunday. Only once before had the Green and Gold responded so forcefully after an opponent scored a touchdown on its opening series.

On Nov. 10, 2002, Az-Zahir Hakim reached the end zone on a 64-yard strike from Joey Harrington the first time the Lions had the ball. Green Bay then countered with 37 consecutive points in a 40-14 romp.

Sunday was not the first time Ryan and the Falcons have pounced on Green Bay early. On Oct. 5, 2008, the quarterback connected with Justin Peelle for a TD on Atlanta’s first drive. On Oct. 9, 2011, he found Roddy White for a score under similar circumstances.

The Falcons won the first game, 27-24. They dropped the second, 25-14, after Green Bay closed with 25 unanswered points.

Stringing together points – and loads of them – is an offensive coordinator’s dream. The Packers are 53-0 when scoring more than 30 unanswered points in a game.

Come Sunday in Chicago, don’t expect that record to improve to 54-0. The Bears, who held the high-flying Rams to just six points in their latest conquest, have improved significantly since allowing the Packers to card 17 unanswered points in Green Bay’s remarkable season-opening, 24-23 comeback.

Retaliatory Barrage
Games in which the Packers scored more than 25 unanswered points after their opponent scored a touchdown on its first possession.

Pts.      Opponent        Date                      Result
37        Lions                Nov. 10, 2002       GB won, 40-14
34        Falcons            Dec. 9, 2018          GB won, 34-20
31        Vikings             Sept. 21, 1997       GB won, 38-32
31        Colts                Oct. 19, 2008        GB won, 34-14
28        Rams                Dec. 17, 1960        GB won, 35-21
28        Bears               Jan. 2, 2005           GB won, 31-14
27        Lions                Oct. 1, 1944          GB won, 27-6
27        Lions                Nov. 26, 2009       GB won, 34-12
26        Steelers            Nov. 3, 1963         GB won, 33-14

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