1st game without Coach McCarthy: Packers get 34-20 win vs. Falcons at Lambeau Field
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and set an NFL record for interception-free football, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-20 Sunday to win their first game under interim head coach Joe Philbin.
Aaron Jones ran for a 29-yard score in the third quarter. The defense limited quarterback Matt Ryan after a game-opening touchdown drive to hand Atlanta its fifth straight loss and guarantee the Falcons a losing record for the first time since 2014.
The Packers (5-7-1) regained some swagger with Philbin taking over for the fired Mike McCarthy. They’ve still got work to do to avoid a losing record, but at least Green Bay snapped a three-game losing streak.
Rodgers was 21 of 32 for 196 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the left side of the end zone for a 27-7. That throw gave Rodgers 359 consecutive attempts without an interception, breaking the league record previously held by New England’s Tom Brady (358 in 2010-11).
The Falcons (4-9) had trouble keeping up after their first series. When they did, they hurt themselves with eight defensive penalties. Linebacker Deion Jones also had a couple chances to snap Rodgers’ interception streak but couldn’t hang on each time.
Atlanta found some semblance of a running game that it hoped to get to open up play action. Yet the Falcons still endured a long drought after Ryan found Julio Jones for a 16-yard touchdown pass on an easy opening series.
By the time Ryan and Jones connected for another score, from 12 yards with 13:34 left in the game, Atlanta was still down by 20.
A botched snap in the red zone in the fourth quarter epitomized the Falcons’ frustrating and injury-filled season. Atlanta drove to the 8 when the shotgun snap from center Alex Mack hit Mohamed Sanu’s leg while the receiver was in motion. Bashaud Breeland recovered.
Ryan finished 28 of 42 for 262 yards and three scores, connecting with Justin Hardy for a 19-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left. Ryan also tossed a 22-yard interception returned for a score by Breeland in the second quarter.
He was outplayed by Rodgers, who also hurt Atlanta on the ground with trademark scrambles. A scrum broke out in the second quarter after cornerback Brian Poole hit Rodgers as the quarterback slid near the end of a 21-yard run to the Atlanta 27.
Pushing and shoving ensued, with Deion Jones and Packers center Corey Linsley each whistled for offsetting personal fouls. After a sack, the Packers still got a 48-yard field goal as time expired to take a 13-point halftime lead.
The Falcons scored first, with a touchdown early in the first quarter after a 16-yard pass from QB Matt Ryan to Julio Jones.
Soon after, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw a seven-yard pass to WR Davante Adams and the Packers scored a touchdown.
The Packers and the Falcons were tied 7-7 at the beginning of the second quarter, but things started to work in the Pack’s favor after Mason Crosby scored a 50-yard field goal, bringing the score up to 10-7.
The Packers scored another touchdown in the second quarter after an interception. Packers CB Bashaud Breeland ran the ball into the end zone to bring the score to 17-7.
Right before halftime, Mason Crosby kicked a second field goal for 48 yards, bringing the score up to 20-7.
The Packers extended their lead to 27-7 in the third, with a 24-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to WR Randall Cobb. With the extra point, the score was 27-7.
The scoring drive included six plays for 72 yards in 2:16.
Packers RB Aaron Jones ran the ball into the end zone for 29 yards, to extend the Packers lead to 34-7 in the third.
The Falcons scored early in the fourth, with a touchdown pass from QB Matt Ryan to WR Julio Jones. The score was then Packers 34, Falcons 14.
The Falcons scored a touchdown late in the fourth — but the Packers would get the win, 34-20.
Falcons: Host the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 16.
Packers: Visit the Chicago Bears on Dec. 16.