ATLANTA – The Green Bay Packers lost the NFC Championship Game and the war of attrition.
“We’ve got our starting D-tackle playing right guard at the end of the game,” receiver Davante Adams said in a somber Packers locker room following a 44-21 blowout defeat to the Falcons. “That answers itself pretty much.”
While receivers Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison and safety Morgan Burnett played, the hits just kept coming throughout the lineup. Going in numerical order, the Packers lost safety Kentrell Brice, nickelback Micah Hyde, linebacker Jake Ryan, guards Lane Taylor and T.J. Lang, right tackle Bryan Bulaga and running back Ty Montgomery. The Packers only had seven offensive linemen active. Without Taylor, Lang and Bulaga, the Packers turned to defensive tackle Letroy Guion to play right guard on the final series.
“It’s never easy to watch your players get injured, especially if it’s in a serious nature,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Frankly, I’m a little numb to it. This is kind of how we’ve had to deal with it, we’ve been able to overcome it. Today we could not. Today we couldn’t overcome the pace that these guys were playing at. They played lights out and it got away from us. You have to overcome all those things when you compete in these big games.”
Nelson overcame his broken ribs to catch six passes for 67 yards and one touchdown. He wore padding to protect the injury.
“Everyone’s banged up right now,” Nelson said. “We needed everyone out there, so everyone did their job to get healthy enough to go play. That’s what we tried to go out and do; we just didn’t execute well enough.”
After the Falcons drove to an opening touchdown, Nelson had receptions of 27 and 15 yards and Adams, who clearly was slowed by an injured ankle, caught a pass for a gain of 6. The drive bogged down – Nelson was livid that Falcons cornerback Robert Alford was not flagged for defensive holding on a third-down incompletion – and Mason Crosby missed a 41-yard field goal. The Falcons drove to another field goal to make it 10-0 and the rout was on.
Nelson’s touchdown, a 3-yarder late in the third quarter, made it 37-15.
“I’m so proud of Jordy. It’s incredible that he was out there,” Rodgers said.
Adams wasn’t nearly as productive. That he wasn’t himself was evident during warmups. He caught two passes for 8 yards, including Green Bay’s first touchdown.
“It felt pretty bad all game,” Adams said, “but I did what I had to do to try and put this team in a position to win and be successful and be out there with my teammates.”
Brice, who enters in the dime package, suffered a shoulder injury on the opening kickoff. Most of the injuries, however, came after the Falcons had seized control. Taylor, the team’s right guard, injured a knee with less than 3 minutes left in the first half. Hyde was not on the field for Atlanta’s final drive of the first half due to an injured shoulder. Ryan (shoulder) and Montgomery (ribs) were injured early in the third quarter. Lang re-injured his broken left foot late in the third quarter. Bulaga was being evaluated for a concussion late in the game.
“It never fully healed in the first place,” Lang said. “The past month, I kept aggravating it a couple times. … I never really gave it the time to completely heal. The past six, seven games, it’s been hurting pretty bad but good enough where I could play. Today just set me back all the way to the beginning. Obviously, that doesn’t help on top of the loss. I’ve played through a lot of stuff before and I’ll be OK.”
Whether that will be with Green Bay remains to be seen. Hyde and Lang will be free agents at season’s end.
“It’s a tough day, physically and emotionally,” Lang said. “A lot of thoughts going through my head. Proud of the way this team fought, though. We were down in the dumps after 10 games but sticking together, fighting, pulling off an incredible run and getting to this point, you can’t ignore that. It’s disappointing the way today ended and the season ended. It’s just tough. Tough.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.