The Green Bay Packers are my favorite football team, I even have a nice packer helmet picture on my wall. In fact, in general I have been fortunate with my favorite teams in that every one has won a championship fairly early in my lifetime, even the hitherto terrible Chicago White Sox. However, this year the Packers are one of the Superbowl Favorites going in, and this particular game basically foreshadowed the NFC championship game.
This game started out rather slowly, though Green Bay moved the ball successfully and held Atlanta to several 3 and outs they kept managing to fail to get a touchdown, first by failing a 4th and 1 rush and second by fumbling on fourth down at the goal line (again on a 4th and 1 rush). Rodgers still managed to accumulate a shitload of yards in this game and in general it felt like the Falcons were getting severely outplayed (Pack has the highest scoring differential in the league), but they kept getting fortunate.
That's fine by me, but what really pissed me off were the failed challenges, or rather failing to even throw the challenge flag. I had heard in the past (from Simmons mostly) that Mike McCarthy was a poor coach, but this is the first time I noticed it firsthand. Early in the game Rodgers slid on Third and 1, but slid about 1 yard past the marker (when he started the slide), the terrible officials decided he had magically started the slide about 2 yards earlier and the Packers punted the ball. This is a very easy challenge, one wouldn't even have to look at a replay to realize he had made it (just spot it from the sideline). No flag.
As the game went into the second half the announcers started yelling about how "We knew this game was going to be a shootout!" What was the score? 10 to 3, Falcons. Amazing shootout eh? Green Bay could drive whenever they wanted and the Falcons only managed a few, albeit crucial drives, it was the bad reffing and bad coaching in not throwing challenges that caused this game to not become 35 to 14 or so in favor of Green Bay, but oh well. Packers make a few more drives and this time actually get touchdowns. On the second to last Atlanta drive Tony Gonzalez falls on a ball on 4th and 1 and its called a catch. This one was a bit more hidden to the naked eye, but clearly an incomplete pass, just please toss the Challenge McCarthy... Nope. I'd blame this one on the coaching staff entirely and the other on McCarthy, but the lack of Red Flaggery seems problematic in general.
Fortunately Rodgers led us down the field yet again and we tied the score at 17-17, however a horrendous penalty nearly puts the Falcons in field goal range right after the weak kickoff. So they drive 5 yards and there it is, 45 yarder for the kicker. Lately it seems like every kick is going in, obviously kickers must be on steroids or something (accuracy is irrelevant when you've got a hugeass leg), and of course it does. 20-17, Falcons win with 5 seconds left on the clock. Exciting game?
Yep, to watch Rodgers throw for 350 and rush for 50, every other aspect was either infuriating or not all that interesting. The Falcons are not a very exciting team I'm afraid, and to everyone who was paying attention the Packers still looked substantially better, if not for a few failed challenges and random dumb luck. We might not have a running game but Rodgers is officially the top QB in the league at the moment, given Peyton Manning's demise. The Pack blew out San Fran this week, and seem to be well on pace to make the Playoffs, huzzah.
One of the announcers, whom I thought were pretty terrible the whole game, was Thom Brenneman, who had maybe the most memorable homerun call of my lifetime (though it could be the home run itself), in the 2005 NLCS when Pujols destroyed Brad Lidge, sending his career into a spiral for 2 years before he recovered in 2008. Video