NFL GAME RECAP

Falcons get big lead, keep Pack at bay in 34-23 win

The Sports Xchange

September 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm.

Sep 17, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes over Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (47) during the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes over Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (47) during the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons built a big lead over the Green Bay Packers and, unlike in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots last season, held on for a victory this time.

The Falcons led by 24 points after three quarters and didn’t wilt after two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in a 34-23 victory Sunday night in the opening regular-season game at the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta’s Matt Ryan completed 19 of 28 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones had five catches for 108 yards, and Devonta Freeman rushed for 84 yards and two short touchdowns for the Falcons (2-0).

Falcons safety Desmond Trufant, who missed the second half of last season, had a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown and set up another TD with an interception. Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 51 and 53 years.

Vic Beasley Jr. caused the sack-fumble by Rodgers leading to the Trufant touchdown, but the NFL sack leader from a season ago had to leave the game later in the third quarter because of a hamstring injury.

Rodgers, who lost favorite receiver Jordy Nelson to a quad injury in the first quarter, completed 33 of 50 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Davante Adams for 33 yards and hitting Ty Montgomery from 1 yard.

The Falcons defeated Green Bay 44-21 in the NFC Championship Game last season and have beaten the Packers three times at Atlanta in 10 months.

Ryan was 13 of 20 for 201 yards in the first half, connecting with seven receivers, and Bryant booted a 51-yard field goal as the Falcons took a 24-7 intermission lead.

The Falcons went 86 and 87 yards on drives capped by Freeman on short runs and Ryan hit Tevin Coleman for a 3-yard score in the final minute of the second quarter after the Trufant interception of Rodgers.

Capping a 75-yard drive, Montgomery scored from 1 yard in the first quarter for the Packers (1-1).

NOTES: The Packers sustained two major losses in the first quarter, with WR Jordy Nelson injuring a quad and DT Mike Daniels straining a hamstring. … The Falcons lost RT Ryan Schraeder (concussion) and DE Courtney Upshaw (ankle) because of first-quarter injuries. … The Packers began the game without RT Brian Bulaga (ankle) and LT David Bakhtiari (hamstring), as well as backup LT Jason Spriggs (hamstring). … Packers S Kentrell Brice hurt a groin in the second quarter. … The complex eight-pedal roof, closed for the first seven events at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was open for the sold-out game, which had NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in attendance. … The Falcons last played outside at home in 1991 before moving into the Georgia Dome the following season.

 

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