The Green Bay Packers blew a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Atlanta Falcons 25-24. This was a game the team could have easily won but they failed to make a play in the fourth quarter that could have clinched the win. The Packers looked like a young team that still needs to learn how to be victorious in close games. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 25-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons:
First Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Run Defense Still Needs Work
Against the Bears in Week 1, the Packers did a good job of shutting down the Chicago rushing attack. In Week 2, the run defense reverted to last year’s form.
Atlanta gashed the Packers for 211 yards rushing and averaged 4.7-yards per carry. The defense had no answer for rookie Bijan Robinson who gained 124 yards on 19 carries and averaged 6.5-yards per carry.
Because the Packers couldn’t stop the run, the Falcons held the ball for 36:14 compared to just 23:45 for the Packers. That took it’s toll by the fourth quarter and helped Atlanta make their comeback.
Second Thing We Learned: Injuries Hurt the Packers
There was little doubt the Packers missed three of their most important offensive players in this game. Then they lost another important player in the first half.
If anybody needed proof that Aaron Jones makes the Packers offense go, they got it in Atlanta. Without Jones, the run game was inconsistent and lacked the dynamism that Jones brings to the table.
Christian Watson missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Watson provides the offense with their best deep threat and helps keep defenses honest.
Playing without David Bakhtiari at left tackle also hurt the Packers although the offensive line still only allowed one sack and three quarterback hits.
The offense missed the left side of the offensive line which features two former Pro Bowl players, and it certainly didn’t help the offense’s production.
Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Jordan Love Has Six TD Passes in Two Games
For the second straight game, Jordan Love threw three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. His quarterback rating was a strong 113.5.
Love did throw one pass that could have been picked off, but it wasn’t. For an inexperienced starting quarterback, he’s done a very good job of not turning the ball over in his first two starts of the season.
This is something the Packers needed to stay competitive in games this year and so far, he’s delivered that.
Fourth Thing We Learned: Jordan Love Is Still Learning
Yes, Love had some bright moments in this game, but he is also still learning to win football games. That is a process, and it won’t happen overnight. Both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre had to learn the same thing in their first seasons as starters.
Love did not come through in the fourth quarter when the Packers probably needed just one or two plays to keep drives alive and hold on to their lead.
His botched quarterback sneak didn’t help. The quarterback apparently made the wrong call on an audible call that created confusion before the snap and resulted in a penalty.
Love didn’t even complete a pass in the fourth quarter. If he is to develop into a quality NFL starter, he will have to come through late in games when it matters most. He is still learning to do this.
Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Packers Lost On 3rd and 4th Down
In their Week 1 win, the Packers dominated third and fourth down on both sides of the ball. Against Atlanta, they were outplayed on those key downs.
The Packers finished the game just 3-of-9 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth. By comparison, the Falcons went 9-of-19 on third and fourth down tries including a painful 3-of-4 on fourth down.
The Packers defense and offense both failed to make enough plays in the clutch, and it cost them the game.
Sixth Thing We Learned: The Running Game Failed to Get Going
The Packers clearly missed their number one running back against Atlanta. A.J. Dillon took over as the featured back in the absence of Jones. He wasn’t awful but didn’t exactly rise to the occasion either.
Dillon ran 15 times for 55 yards which is a pedestrian 3.7-yards per carry. His long run of the game was just eight yards. Emanuel Wilson carried three times for five yards in his first NFL game and Patrick Taylor gained one yard on his only carry of the day.
If you take out Love’s runs, the Packers running backs gained just 61 yards on 19 carries which is an average of 3.2-yards per carry.
The Packers need to run better than that to take some pressure off their inexperienced quarterback and to keep defenses honest.
Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Young Receivers Showed Promise but Were Inconsistent
First the good news, both Jayden Reed and Dontavion Wicks got their first NFL touchdowns in this game. Reed also scored his second. Love spread the ball around, completing passes to seven different receivers in this game.
But the bad news is that the young receiving corps was inconsistent. You can see the talent is obviously there, but these players are still learning the ropes in the NFL and are not yet consistent performers.
The sooner they mature, the more dangerous this offense can become. Getting Watson back will certainly help all the other receivers get open.
Eighth Thing We Learned: Jaire Alexander Didn’t Have His Best Game
It’s tough to single out the Packers best cover corner, but Jaire Alexander didn’t play his A game against the Falcons. He dropped a potential interception that could have easily been a pick-six.
He also was beaten on more passes than he usually is and just didn’t have a great game in coverage.
Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Quay Walker Played Well Again
Second-year linebacker Quay Walker had another strong performance in Week 2. In the first half alone, Walker recorded 11 tackles and he finished the game with a team-leading 17. The former Georgia star also broke up a pass and recorded a quarterback hit.
The only big mistake Walker made was a dropped interception that could have helped the Packers but overall, Walker appears to be much more confident and in the right position to make plays this season than he was a year ago.
Tenth Thing We Learned: Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary Played Well
Clark recorded six total tackles and two quarterback hits. He was disruptive at times and was clearly the team’s best defensive lineman in this game.
Meanwhile, Gary is still on a pitch count but managed two tackles, the half sack and a quarterback hit.
Getting Gary back to playing full time will certainly help the Packers defense create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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