ATLANTA — If the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome, what team can?
The Packers fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter, didn’t have their two starting offensive tackles, dropped a touchdown pass, fumbled in Falcons territory, and faced the prospect of rallying in front of a hostile, noisy sellout crowd.
In the face of incredible odds and adversity, what did the Packers do? They gathered on their sideline, steadied themselves, buckled up their chinstraps and went out and steamrolled the shell-shocked Falcons 25-14 to boost their record to 5-0.
“You’ve got to understand, when we’re down, we’re never down,” defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. “We feel like we’re going to come back and win.”
No one was yelling or pointing fingers on the Packers’ bench. There was no sense of panic when they kept shooting themselves in the foot.
“We said, ‘Hey, settle down, get to our game plan, and we can win this game,’” Pickett said.
After the Falcons produced two touchdowns, 11 first downs and 145 total yards on their first two possessions, the Packers shut them down and shut them up the rest of the game. The Falcons gained only 106 yards and picked up seven first downs after that.
“Atlanta was cheap-shotting, their offensive line was pushing after the whistle,” Pickett said. “They try to get in your head like that. We just said, ‘Man, we’re going to be physical between the whistles and just beat these boys.' That’s what we did.”
The Packers ran their winning streak over the past two seasons to 11 games, dating to a loss at New England last Dec. 19. It’s been so long since they suffered a defeat that the Packers have forgotten what it feels like.
When asked what it’s going to take to beat the Packers, cornerback Charles Woodson said: “I don’t know. I hope nobody figures it out. We’re just going to keep fighting. We have a good team. Our sideline stays calm in these type of situations. It’s a testament to the guys. We’ve worked a lot together over the past couple years. We feel like no matter what the situation, we can get ourselves out of it.”
The Packers dug themselves out of a big mess against the Falcons. They went from not being able to do anything right to doing no wrong. It was as if they flipped a switch and turned on the juice, and the Falcons were helpless to do anything about it.
A Ryan Grant fumble in Falcons territory in the first half, plus a Jermichael Finley dropped touchdown pass didn’t help the Packers’ comeback effort. It also looked bleak when starting left tackle Chad Clifton went down with a hamstring injury and rookie Derek Sherrod was forced into action.
In reality, the Packers had the Falcons exactly where they wanted them.
“We never waver,” linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “You can’t be as good a team as us and waver. We just knew what we had to do.
“We’re an adversity team. This is nothing to us.”
The Packers rallied from a 13-0 deficit against Carolina in Week 2, but their latest comeback performance came against a Falcons team that had been virtually unbeatable at home in recent years.
This marks the first time the Packers have opened a season with five straight victories since 1965.
According to receiver Donald Driver, only one team is capable of beating the confident, high-flying Packers.
“Us,” Driver said. “We only can beat ourselves.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at MikeVandermause.