Recap, sum­mary, game re­port, In­sider

Packer Plus - - News - CHARLES ODUM AP SPORTS WRITER

— Green Bay’s of­fense was with­out both start­ing tack­les from the start and then lost both start­ing wide re­ceivers.

Oh, and the Pack­ers were play­ing in the first reg­u­lar-sea­son game in the At­lanta Fal­cons’ new sta­dium. Plus, Green Bay’s makeshift line had to face a de­fen­sive front that stayed fresh with con­stant sub­sti­tu­tions.

“That’s all part of the game plan,” Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy said. “… That’s the NFL. That’s foot­ball.”

Short-handed Green Bay faced a big early deficit, just like in last sea­son’s NFC Cham­pi­onship Game, and its come­back at­tempt fell short in Sun­day night’s 34-23 loss.

Devonta Free­man ran for 84 yards and two touch­downs and cor­ner­back Des­mond Tr­u­fant opened the sec­ond half by scor­ing on a fum­ble re­turn for At­lanta (2-0).

The Fal­cons made a strong state­ment that they again will be a fac­tor in the NFC fol­low­ing their 44-21 NFC Cham­pi­onship Game vic­tory over the Pack­ers last sea­son. It was a suc­cess­ful reg­u­lar-sea­son de­but for At­lanta’s $1.5 bil­lion Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium, and the new sta­dium’s first event with its re­tractable roof open.

It was more for­get­table for the Pack­ers. Green Bay (1-1) lost re­ceivers Jordy Nel­son (quad) and Ran­dall Cobb (shoul­der) while play­ing the full game with­out reg­u­lar tack­les David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bu­laga. Backup tackle Kyle Mur­phy and Justin McCray, listed as the backup at cen­ter and right guard, filled in at tackle.

Quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers said his play-call­ing “changed a lit­tle bit.”

“They just haven’t been in those spots be­fore for us,” Rodgers said of the fill-in line­men. “A loud en­vi­ron­ment, first time for those guys. … We had a cou­ple mis­takes, false starts and stuff, but over­all I think those guys did well.”

Ty Mont­gomery ran for 35 yards, in­clud­ing a touch­down, and had 75 yards re­ceiv­ing with an­other touch­down for Green Bay. Rodgers’ top tar­get was Da­vante Adams, who had eight catches for 99 yards, in­clud­ing a 33-yard touch­down.

Tr­u­fant in­ter­cepted a pass from Rodgers late in the first half to set up Matt Ryan’s 3-yard scor­ing pass to Tevin Cole­man for a 24-7 half­time lead, then de­liv­ered again on the sec­ond play af­ter half­time.

Rodgers lost the ball when hit by Vic Beasley Jr. Fum­ble or in­com­plete pass? In­stead of wait­ing for a rul­ing, Tr­u­fant picked up the loose ball and ran 15 yards for the touch­down. The touch­down call stood when the re­play didn’t con­clu­sively show a for­ward pass.

“A big play by him with the in­ter­cep­tion at the end of the half,” Quinn said, “then a smart play to start the sec­ond half on the forced fum­ble.”

Here are some other take­aways from the game:

Raise the roof: The re­tractable roof was closed for two pre­sea­son games, as well as three MLS At­lanta United games and two col­lege foot­ball games. The team’s first ope­nair home game since 1991 went smoothly — even though the air conditioning at the Ge­or­gia Dome was missed.

“It felt pretty cool,” said Fal-

cons re­ceiver Mo­hamed Sanu. “It was kind of hot, but we’re in good shape so it didn’t af­fect us.”

Com­mis­sioner vis­its: NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell was on hand for the pregame rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony also at­tended by Fal­cons owner Arthur Blank, Ge­or­gia Gov. Nathan Deal and At­lanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Blank cut the big red rib­bon.

300 and count­ing: Rodgers com­pleted 33 of 50 passes for 343 yards and two touch­downs with one in­ter­cep­tion. His sec­ond scor­ing pass, a 1-yarder to Mont­gomery in the fourth quar­ter, was the 300th of his ca­reer. He threw the shovel pass with his left hand, mak­ing the mile­stone more mem­o­rable.

Asked if he would have ever thought he’d reach the mile­stone with a left-handed toss, Rodgers said “No, I didn’t, but they all count.”

Big penalty: McCarthy drew an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty late in the first half. He said he was pe­nal­ized for press­ing of­fi­cials for an ex­pla­na­tion on a key of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence call against tight end Martel­lus Ben­nett. The penalty on Ben­nett negated a 36-yard pass to Ran­dall Cobb.

“I didn’t get any clar­i­fi­ca­tion,” McCarthy said.

GETTY IM­AGES

Devonta Free­man cel­e­brates his 1-yard rush­ing touch­down in the first quar­ter. Free­man ran for 84 yards and a pair of scores and the Fal­cons’ of­fense opened up a 24-7 half­time lead on the short-handed Pack­ers.

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