Saturday, January 15, 2011

Packers - Falcons First Half Diary -- Kickoff Return Touchdowns Are For Losers

Joe Buck is offended by how loud Falcon Fan is. How dare they make his working conditions difficult! It will make it harder to discuss Brett Favre, the Cowboys, the lockout, the Pro Bowl and everything else he's prepared to discuss. A meh return for Red to the 22, and QB Matt Ryan's first throw slips out of his hands and looks horrible. A very late flag is picked up as the refs want some mic time, and on second down, RB Michael Turner gets four yards. Third and six to start the game is a big deal, really, and Ryan from the gun hits WR Roddy White on the mild run to move the sticks. White was all kinds of open, which seems odd, seeing how good that guy is. I'd cover him, Yellow.

Turner goes left for five yards that you might even want to call downhill, but why would you say something that stupid? Football fields are level. Second down has Ryan on the move again, but he's got nothing and throws it away. On third, Ryan holds in against pressure to get it to White on a cross, and the WR makes a nice fingertip catch to move the sticks again. Ryan doesn't get the helmet hit call, because he's not famous. Turner for a couple to the Yellow 47, then loses them to the left. Another long third for Ryan to convert, From the gun, Yellow gets a good rush from just four, and Ryan has to move forward and dump it to RB Jason Snelling. The back is stopped before the sticks, and P Michael Koenen's effort is fairly caught at the 11 before we go to commerce. Nothing too breathtaking learned on that drive, either way.

RB James Starks is snowed under for a loss of three. Some more of that last week, please. Sigh. Big noise from Falcon Fan, of course, and QB Aaron Rodgers looks shaky on second against a blitz, throwing a screen into the ground near RB Brandon Jackson. Third and 13 to get off the field right away is a big damn deal, and from the gun with all noise happening... well, holy crap. Rodgers hits WR Greg Jennings on a slant for a huge gain, but he's stripped in the run, and Red gets the turnover. After a run of 60 yards, none of them forward, CB Brent Grimes is forced out at the Packers 48. Had this just been a stop and a punt, Red would have the ball here, but that just seemed more meaningful, really.

Turner gets four professional yards on first down. Ryan has time on play action to find WR Michael Jenkins, who beats CB Charles Woodson for 22 yards with a subtle push off. From the Yellow 22, Snelling gets a yard, then Ryan is sacked by LB Clay Mathews after Woodson's blitz throws off the timing. No chance for the QB there. Third and 13 from the gun with the clock running out sees Ryan hit White just shy of the sticks. Inside the 13, it's a chip shot figgie, but figgies against this offense aren't exciting, and Red does have a power rushing offense... and they go for it. INTERESTING. Red is 11 of 15 on fourth down this year, and they'll need a little more than half a yard. The give to FB Owie Mughelli doesn't get much, but it's enough, and kudos to head coach Mike White for having the nuts. The next play sees Turner tear the middle of the Packer defense apart as he pinballs his way through multiple non-tacklers for the score. Oh, Charger Fan, What You Have Lost; that was manly enough to have earned the man all kinds of poon. K Matt Bryant converts, and it's Falcons 7, Packers 0.

Koenen's kick is taken by Starks to the 19, and it's not looking like he's going to have two straight weeks as Packer Hero. Fox shows the big time of possession gap, because, well, woo. DE John Abraham jumps for a free play that Rodgers can't do much with. Starks gets four as Joe Buck is compelled to tell us that the man who had 120+ yards in a playoff win last week "can run." No, seriously. Second and one is another give to the rookie, who bounces for four and a first. A delay to Jackson works well for 14, as Red was in the entirely wrong formation. From their own 45, It's Starks for another four, and if you have Aaron Rodgers in your playoff fantasy league... well, just stop it already. From a power formation, Rodgers takes FB Jon Kuhn, who rumbles for the first fairly easily. Now in Red territory with the clock running low, Starks gets a yard. From the gun, a bubble screen to WR Donald Driver goes for three. Third is a figgie or better down as Radio Shack gets some free pub from a decibel meter. Rodgers milks every tenth of a second before finding Jennings to move the sticks, and that's the end of the first quarter. Nice answering drive by Yellow, not that I think anyone was thinking this was going to be a runaway.

From the Red 23 to start the second in the gun on first, Rodgers takes Driver for five and all kinds of pain. On second, again from the gun, Jennings gets two on a bubble screen, with Grimes on the stop. Third and three is another figgie chance, and with 5 wideouts from the gun, Rodgers just takes WR Jordy Nelson for the first. When they do this, it honestly just looks easy for Yellow. From the Red 8, Starks gets two on a gun draw. Seven straight completions for Rodgers becomes 8 from the gun, as the QB moves up in the pocket, finds Nelson in the flat, and the WR touches the pylon with the ball for the score. Clinical drive capped by a Mason Crosby PAT, and it's 7-all after 18 minutes of ball. That's the Yellow offense that might be the NFC's best.

Crosby's kick goes to the end zone, and Atlanta's KR, Eric Weems, takes advantage of some good blocking, one good move on Crosby, and his Pro Bowl speed to take it to the house. Blink. Wow. Normally in a 102-yard kickoff return, there's a moment where it looks like the man might go down, but this one didn't have one; it was just textbook. I wouldn't be surprised if Yellow squibs it the rest of the day. Instant clear air turbulence gives the Falcons back their lead, 14-7, and the only problem with that is that teams with kickoff return touchdowns actually lose more often than they win, by the numbers. No, seriously. It's never good to put your defense right back on the field. But I suspect Red will still take their chances with the play. Weems gives the ball to his mom. Aww! So adorable!

Koenen's kick is fumbled by Starks out of bounds at his own 8 yard line, and Yellow is actually lucky it didn't stay in bounds. Short Rodgers throw to Jennings for six yards, then a slant to Driver for 24 more, with the WR getting perturbed at the way he's whipped down at the end of the play. Jeez, it's like he's a QB or something. Rodgers to Jennings for another 12, and there is no reason to think Rodgers won't have huge numbers today. A screen to Jackson misses, and that's a bad miss on the QB, as that play was all kinds of set up. On second, majority of plays from gun now, Rodgers makes the blitzer miss, then hits WR James Jones on an out, and the WR takes it up field for a lot more. Replay shows he was out, but Red doesn't challenge, and from the red zone, Starks is stopped for a yard. From the gun, Rodgers is high to Jones, and it might have been TAInt if it was low. Third and three sees the Red defense finally get to the QB, and the six yard sack means Crosby will try from 32 yards out... but a saving flag on the secondary is just a bailout penalty. Yeesh. From the five with the gift first down, Starks gets two. Empty backfield, five wide, same DB -- Christopher Owens -- with a flag on Driver. The guys is only in due to injury, and we're seeing why. From the one, Starks is lit up by Coy Wire near the end zone; nice hit to turn the RB backwards. Super power formation with NT BJ Raji in the backfield, and Kuhn gets the yard and the score. That's why kickoff return touchdowns aren't a panacea, folks. Packers 14, Falcons 14, and Yellow had a 92-yard touchdown drive to settle things. The road team has the momentum as we go to commerce.

Crosby hits it deep again, but short and to Snelling, who gets it back to the Red X. Six minutes left in the half, and Red needs one of those time-killing control drives to end this half happy, against a Yellow defense that hasn't been on the field in a long time. Turner for four professional yards. Ryan on a rollout to WR Brian Finneran, who is wide open for 11 yards and a first. From midfield, Ryan audibles an out to White and misses, but Yellow goes upside the QB's head for 15 and a first. Easy call, clear mistake. From the Yellow 35 with 4:34 left, it's Turner for seven bruising yards on a delay. Ryan in the slow hurry to prevent defensive subs. From the gun, the QB hits Jenkins away from a blitz for 13 and a first. Just quality work there by the offense. Turner gets through Mathews for a yard. More slow hurry work, but Red jumps for a silly mistake. Second and 14 from the gun is Ryan in an empty backfield, and he's fresh meat for Woodson on another blitz. Ryan thought about an out, but either thought he could fake the CB out or was worried about the pick. Third and 21 sees the QB pump, then underthrow Jenkins, who also fell on the play. CB Tramon Williams, who ended the Eagles last week, gets the pick, and that's a three-point mistake in a dome. Not to mention Mo Mentum, and Packer ball at their own 20 with an offense that's gone the distance the last two times they've had the ball. Big play by Williams.

Rodgers to TE Andew Quarless for six yards, and Yellow can't get another snap before the two minute warning. Abraham's limping, and since the only way that Yellow is missing any passing plays this game is with Rodgers on the ground, that's a little bit distressing. He stays in. From the gun on second, Rodgers draws a flag, then completes a long pass for fun, even though the play is blown dead. So much for the dome field advantage. Five of six flags on Red so far today, and they were the least penalized team in the league this year. Rodgers spins away from a blitz and gets six yards before stepping out of bounds. Yellow gives back five on a delay flag. Second and nine from the gun against a 3-man rush just means Rodgers has all day to find Jennings, who is open despite all of those backs for another big gain. Rodgers is now 15 of 17 for 186, and it's pinball time for him. Now from the Red 47, he finds Quarless for eight on a curl with 90 seconds in the half, and counting. I'm not thinking the clock will be an issue, really. A slant to Jennings is a little off and misses. Third and two with sixty nine seconds left in the half, with Red Fan doing everything they can to help the defense somehow get off the field... but it's another 20-yard completion, this one to Driver, against a 3-man rush. I hear Sean McDermott got fired today in Philadelphia; are we sure that he isn't working for Red? The defense calls time for an injured player with 48 seconds left in the half. Also, the bottom of Driver's shoes appear to have been designed by Liberace. Now at the Red 20 from the gun, Rodgers hits Jones in the end zone on a great catch by the WR, right over the Falcons best CB, Grimes. Great coverage, but a better throw and catch, and after the Crosby PAT, it's Packers 21, Falcons 14. 42 seconds left for Ryan to try to cut the Packer avalanche.

Crosby with more kickoff flamfoolery; Finneran takes it to the 35 and sits. Two Red timeouts if the Falcons can make a move. From the gun, Ryan takes Snelling on a checkdown that they would have been better missing. Two yard gain and the second timeout. Second and eight is a scary out to WR Henry Douglas for two pointless yards in five seconds; that could have been a killshot TAInt. The offense is bailed out on a sideline fly as CB Shields gets his first DPI of the year against Jenkins. 23-yard flag. Williams with another flag, as he bit on a pump to White. Another DPI gives Red the ball at the Packer 26 with 14 seconds left. Mathews with a disaster sack on Ryan, and that's the last Red timeout with 8 seconds left. Might have even cost them the figgie, that. Two very big plays for the Packer defense, one by Williams and the other by Mathews, could have taken six Red points off the board in a 7-point game. With 10 seconds left, Ryan rolls out right, doesn't see Williams, and throws the killshot TAInt. Wow. So much for the #1 seed. I don't know what Ryan was thinking there, but that was one of the worst throws you could imagine, in one of the worst situations possible. Crosby hits the PAT, and it's now Packers 28, Falcons 14 at the half. Oh, and the unstoppable Packer offense gets the ball to start the second half. Feel free to beat the traffic home now, Red Fan...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule