Marshawn Lynch’s Scottish hijinks will restore your faith in the American spirit

Just when we need him most, the internet’s most beloved former NFL star goes to Scotland and — partially, ever so slightly — redeems America’s reputation abroad. 
As a promotion ahead of Super Bowl LI — which will be played Sunday in Houston, Texas — Skittles sent Lynch to Houston, Scotland, to mingle with the locals. What could have been nothing more than a lame corporate stunt became a piece of humanist art, thanks to Lynch being involved. 
Watch the three-minute video atop this post as Lynch gets friendly with locals, learns about castles, jams with some bagpipers and generally Marshawns it up over in Scotland.
If Marshawnism — a philosophy that appears to promote genuine curiosity about the world and goodwill toward fellow humans — could somehow replace Trumpism as America’s chief current export, then we’d all live in a happier world. 

Would Pittsburgh Steelers trade Antonio Brown to the Eagles?

The relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and receiver Antonio Brown appears to be deteriorating.
Could the Eagles step in and help it come to an end?
While the chances seem slim, a recent report that the Steelers feel Brown cares too much about his individual stats has led Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to write that he wouldn’t rule out the Steelers moving on from Brown this offseason.
The recent leak to NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala, who is embedded with the Steelers, that the team believes Brown cares too much about his statistics and that he was “pouting” after the first touchdown of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots could be regarded as a deliberate effort by the team to slide Brown toward the trading block.
The report is the latest drama between Brown and the Steelers.
Following the Steelers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown posted a Facebook Live video of the team’s locker room, a decision that caused head coach Mike Tomlin to say incidents like that are why “great players move from team to team.”
A quote that should grab attention of Eagles top personnel Howie Roseman.

One of the Eagles’ biggest needs is at receiver, a position Roseman has said they will address this offseason. Now that they have a quarterback in Carson Wentz on the roster that they can build around, adding better receivers for him to throw it too is priority No. 1 inside the NovaCare Complex.

Brown would fill that need in a big way, as he is arguably the best receiver in the league, and finished last season with 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns.
What makes the possibility of the Steelers trading Brown is that he is entering the final year of his contract, and wants to get paid like one of the best receivers in the league.
If the Steelers truly are souring on Brown, this offseason would be their last chance to get something for him, before seeing him walk away next season as a free agent if they are not willing to invest big money in him — which they presumably wouldn’t be if they really do view him as selfish and a distraction.
If that is the road the Steelers go down, the Eagles would be foolish to not at least call the Steelers and see what they would ask in return for Brown in a trade.
The price will likely begin with a first-round pick, and if multiple teams get in on the bidding war, it could go even higher.
The Eagles would have to decide just how much they wanted to give up for Brown in terms of assets, knowing they would then also have to turn around and give the receiver a big deal. Brown being 28-years old, and 101 games into his career, makes that decision complicated even if he is one of the best receivers in the league.
If Brown really is on the market, however, and the Eagles get a chance to add him to their roster, they will have to think long and hard about doing whatever it takes to land the Pro-Bowl receiver.

Patriots perfectly execute 34-yard flea-flicker to extend lead over Steelers

The New England Patriots pulled off some offensive trickery against the Steelers in the second quarter of the AFC Championship on Sunday when Tom Brady found Chris Hogan for a 34-yard touchdown on a perfect little flea-flicker.
On the play, Brady handed the ball off to Dion Lewis on what looked to be a standard rushing play. Only Lewis, before making contact with the line, flipped the ball back to Brady, who immediately hit a wide-open Hogan for the score.
Here’s the play

My super bowl 51 predictions.


You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more compelling matchup for Super Bowl LI.
On one side, you’ve got the dynasty. Not only will the Patriots be making their NFL-record ninth Super Bowl appearance, it’ll be their seventh in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady Era. After Sunday’s AFC Championship victory over the Steelers, they are now 13-1 with Brady under center this season, with 11 of those victories coming by double-digits.

On the other side, you’ve got the newcomers. The Falcons, under second-year head coach Dan Quinn, are making their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history and first since 1999. But this year’s resume isn’t all that different from New England’s, with the quarterback playing at an MVP level and the defense making big plays at timely moments. Matt Ryan has been tremendous all season, but during Atlanta’s current six-game winning streak, he’s averaging an absurd 310.17 yards per game with 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
It’s offensive juggernaut vs. offensive juggernaut. Potential MVP at quarterback vs. potential MVP at quarterback.
Ultimately, though, if there’s anyone who can slow down Ryan and the top offense in the league, it’s Belichick and Matt Patricia with two weeks to prepare. And when you throw in arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, plus a distinct advantage in the experience department, the Patriots capture Super Bowl victory No. 5.

Early Prediction: Patriots 30, Falcons 24 

Former NFL Europe Coach and sky sports NFl analyst Jeff Reinebold is the New Defensive Coordinator For CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats


Kent Austin, vice president of football operations and head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, announced Monday that Jeff Reinebold has been promoted to defensive coordinator of the football club. Reinebold had previously served as the team’s special teams coordinator for the last four seasons and also as linebackers coach since 2014.

“Jeff is an intelligent, experienced football coach that has been a leader on our staff for the past four years,” said Austin. “His familiarity with our players, coaches and staff will allow for a smooth transition and speaks to our emphasis on the importance of continuity within our organization.”

My self with Jeff and neil Reynolds.

Reinebold, 59, will enter his fifth season with the Tiger-Cats in 2017. He joined the team as special teams coordinator in 2013, adding the role of linebackers coach the following year. The South Bend, Indiana, native has nearly 35 years of coaching experience, including 13 years at the CFL level.
Under Reinebold’s tutelage, the Tiger-Cats special teams and linebacking units have had tremendous success both from an individual player and team perspective. Wide receiver and kick returner Brandon Banks has been named a CFL All-Star twice (2014, 2015), an East Division All-Star in three consecutive seasons (2014-16), and won the 2015 John Agro Award as the league’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Linebacker Simoni Lawrence has also been named an East Division All-Star in three consecutive seasons (2014-16), and was named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player and a CFL All-Star in 2015.
The Tiger-Cats have led the CFL in special teams touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. In 2015 specifically, Hamilton scored six touchdowns on special teams, including four punt return majors by Banks, and two additional touchdowns on a blocked punt and an onside punt recovery. Overall, the Tiger-Cats had six blocked kicks, while the rest of the league combined for just 12 in total. Banks also returned a missed single-point convert attempt for the first missed convert return score in the history of the CFL, and had two additional kick return touchdowns negated by penalties.
Prior to joining the Ticats, Reinebold served as Defensive Coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes in 2012. His coaching experience at the CFL level also includes various roles with the B.C. Lions (1991-93, 1996), Las Vegas Posse (1994), Edmonton Eskimos (1995), and a two-year stint as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1997-98).
Well known in Europe

Jeff Reinebold’s name is well known in the European football community. In fact, his European adventure began in 1996 when he was a coach of the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. After coaching stops in both the CFL, NFL Europe again and the NCAA, he returned to NFL Europe in 2004 as senior manager of international player development and it was those connections that led him to Sky Sports to serve as an emergency replacement for one of the other American studio analysts who couldn’t make a broadcast.
Sky Sports commentator

He has been doing it ever since. He currently handles the TV color commentary on NFL games and the Super Bowl for Skysports, co hosting the biggest NFL podcast outside of North America – Inside The Huddle.
He is part of a two man team with Neil Reynolds, also a former NFL Europe executive, on the show. It airs at least once a week from London, year round, so over the years he has had to scramble to make it work. He has even handled it from the beaches of Costa Rica once on a surf vacation. For the dedicated “water man” – surfing and paddling are passions – it was only natural.


Check out Jeff Reinebold’s complete football bio here.

Everyone loves a stat 

Just found a mildly interesting stat. The league’s highest scoring offence (Falcons) and the defense which allowed the fewest points (Patriots) will meet in Super bowl LI. This has happened five times before since the merger. They were:
2013 – Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks

1990 – Buffalo Bills and New York Giants

1989 – San Francisco 49’s and Denver Broncos

1984 – Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49’s

1978 – Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers
The best defenses have won four of those games, with the only win for the offences coming when Broadway Joe lit up the Broncos to the tune of 55-10. Some historically great defenses in there too, The Legion of Boom at their peak, Lawrence Taylor in one of his All-Pro years for the Giants, and the Steel Curtain. In fact I would encourage you to go find the America’s Game episode of that Steelers team. It’s great.

Atlanta Falcons reach the Super Bowl on a miserable night for Aaron Rodgers’s Green Bay Packers


Green Bay Packers 21 Atlanta Falcons 44 
Falcons will play Patriots in Super Bowl LI

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones teamed up for a dominant playoff performance, and the Atlanta Falcons ignored all those ghosts from the last half-century.
Now, they’re headed to the Super Bowl.
Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns in another MVP-worthy showing, while Jones shook off a lingering toe injury to haul in nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, leading the Falcons to a 44-21 blowout of the storied Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game Sunday.
Atlanta (13-5) will face New England in the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Houston. It will be only the second appearance in the Falcons’ 51-year history, the first coming 18 years ago with a team known as the “Dirty Birds.”
They have never won an NFL championship.
If Ryan and the league’s highest-scoring offense keep playing like this, the AFC winner will sure have its hands full in the Lone Star State. The Falcons led 24-0 at halftime against the Packers (12-6), perhaps the league’s hottest team, and essentially put the game away on their second offensive snap of the second half, a play that showed every one of Jones’ remarkable skills .
He blazed down the middle of the field, shook off LaDarius Gunter’s attempt to grab him on a cut toward the sideline, hauled in the pass from Ryan, broke Gunter’s diving attempt at tackle, and defiantly knocked away Damarious Randall’s with a brutal stiff-arm on the way to a 73-yard touchdown.
In the final game at the Georgia Dome, Ryan sparked more delirious chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” as he carved up an injury plagued Packers secondary that simply had no way of stopping a team that averaged nearly 34 points a game during the regular season and romped to a 36-20 victory against Seattle’s Legion of Boom in the divisional round.
For good measure, Ryan also ran for a touchdown.
The Packers, riding an eight-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling upset of the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys, got a taste of what they’d be in for on Atlanta’s very first possession.
Driving 80 yards in 13 plays, the Falcons converted three times on third down, the last of them when Ryan scrambled away from pressure and flipped a shovel pass to Mohamed Sanu for a 2-yard score.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers came right back, moving quickly down the field in what had all the makings of a back-and-forth shootout. Top receiver Jordy Nelson hauled in a 27-yard pass after missing the victory at Dallas with a rib injury.
But, on third-and-4 at the Atlanta 23, the Falcons hurried Rodgers into an incomplete pass. Mason Crosby, who hit two field goals longer that 50 yards in the closing minutes against the Cowboys, pushed a 41-yard attempt right of the upright to snap a playoff-record streak of 23 straight field goals.
The Falcons drove down the field again, settling for Matt Bryant’s 28-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead. Then, with Green Bay poised to make a game of it, Atlanta’s much-maligned defense – one of the lowest ranked in the NFL – came through a momentum-swinging play. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski was breaking tackles and rumbling toward the end zone when Jalen Collins stripped the ball from behind and fell on it just across the goal line for a touchback.
On the ensuing possession, Ryan hooked up with Jones three times for 56 yards. Ryan finished it off with some surprisingly nimble running skills, faking out one defender with a pump fake before diving into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown run. It was Matty Ice’s first rushing touchdown since Week 1 of the 2012 season and sparked an uncharacteristic outburst from the normally even-tempered quarterback.
Ryan gave the ball a thunderous spike and let out a scream that made it clear he wanted this game more than anything in his career. The guy who had a 1-4 record in the playoffs over his first eight seasons has finally earned his spot on the biggest stage of them all.
(By AP)
11:43pm

Matt Ryan has his commemorative t-shirt
 
11:42pm

The Falcons have the title

Ticker tape, speeches, one trophy, much excitement in Georgia. It’s a semi-tragic end to the godlike Aaron Rodgers’s season, but perhaps just one game too many for his team.
11:33pm

FINAL SCORE: Packers 21 Falcons 44        

That’s your lot. What a performance by the Falcons, who will terrify even the Patriots on this evidence. They have so many ways to score and do not seem prone to defensive errors. 
A wonderful moment of vindication for the often-maligned Matt Ryan, who has this to say to Fox:
“I’m excited. We played great today, in all three phases. We knew going against Green Bay and Aaron that it’s never over. We kept on them for the entire four quarters. We’ll be ready to go [in the Super Bowl], that’s for sure. You never know how these games will shake out, you expect it to go to the last two or three plays.”

11:31pm

Q4 1.30 Packers 21 Falcons 44       

Clock ticking down as Green Bay run some inconsequential plays. Falcons coach Dan Quinn gets the cermonial Gatorading:

 
11:27pm

Q4 2.00 Packers 21 Falcons 44      

Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley is on for the last knockings for Green Bay. Poor old Rodgers. Gets off a minor run play to bring about the two minute warning.
Here’s the aforementioned Mr Blank having a lovely time in his team’s dressing room after their last win: 

 Plenty more of this sort of thing to come shortly. 
11:23pm

Q4 2.43 Packers 21 Falcons 44     

Some clock manipulation now, as Atlanta fail to secure a new set of downs, send on the field goal unit for a long try, then use their final time out. They change their mind after the time out and elect to punt instead. Here’s Falcons owner Arthur Blank looking resplendent on the sidelines:

 

11:20pm

Q4 4.41 Packers 21 Falcons 44    

Too easy for the Falcons, the determined and powerful Freeman pushes through to the 40 for a first down. Falcons not even bothering to run down the play clock particularly. 
This man is going to the Super Bowl:

 
11:16pm

Q4 6.43 Packers 21 Falcons 44   

The onside kick does not go to plan for Green Bay. Sanu, impeccable tonight, fields it cleanly and stays put. Falcons will start on the 50.
11:13pm

Q4 6.43 Packers 21 Falcons 44  

Two-point attempt is no good. Michael is stopped. Onside kick coming. The last refuge of a scoundrel. A scoundrel that desperately wants to visti Houston in two weeks. 
11:11pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q4 6.43 Packers 21 Falcons 44     

Fairly straightforward completion to Cook in the corner of the endzone, Packers will go for two again. 

11:11pm

Q4 6.52 Packers 15 Falcons 44    

After an Atlanta timeout there’s a pass interference call on the Falcons which puts GB on the one yard line. This flag-heavy spell is doing things to the clock which optimistic Packers fans will be livid about…
11:08pm

Q4 7.25 Packers 15 Falcons 44   

Yup, flag thrown, Freeney the culprit. That puts the Packers on the three-yard line. First defensive penalty for the Falcons all game. Glorious lack of flags throughout the whole game, in fact. Rodgers tries an adventurous run but is ushered out of bounds by Robert Alford. Rodgers got a grip of his facemask and ripped it off, it’s called, the Packers go back 15 yards and have a third down on the Falcons 18. Rodgers looking peeved, to put it extremely politely. 
11:04pm

Q4 8.06 Packers 15 Falcons 44  

Packers within range after a short pass to Allison, but next pass to Cook is no good. Second and goal from the seven, but looks like a defender jumped offside there. 
11:01pm

Q4 10.19 Packers 15 Falcons 44 

There’s the most Rodgers-y pass of the game so far, leaving his pocket and strafing left before launching a missile to Cobb straight up the middle. Gain of 33. Packers on the Atlanta 29. 
10:59pm

Q4 11.28 Packers 15 Falcons 44

Aaron Rodgers isn’t usually someone you’d associate with garbage time, but that’s where he finds himself here. About seven extremely unlikely things would need to happen in the 11.5 minutes than remain to get the Packers back into the. He’s nearly made it into Falcons territory, but Cobb can’t hold a bullet pass, it’s third and 10. All about this guy tonight, the boy Julio:

10:54pm
TOUCHDOWN! Q4 12.27 Packers 15 Falcons 44 

Lovely play. Long toss to the running back Coleman, who’s deep behind his QB and skips off towards the scantly-populated left-hand side for an easy score. Extra point is good. Put a fork in this one. 
10:53pm

Q4 12.27 Packers 15 Falcons 37 

Here begins the Falcons victory lap. Short passes, riding the play clock to its limit, all very smart from Matt Ryan. Green Bay sending plenty to meet the quarterback, and he looked perilously close to being hit there. That’s not what anybody wants at this stage, especially in the year of Brock Osweiller starting a playoff game. Ryan finds Jones in the middle, and Atlanta have a first and goal chance. 
10:47pm

End of Q3 Packers 15 Falcons 37

An onside kick from the Packers who are in an Any Dream Will Do drill now. Dan Hanzus is keen:
 

 Little good comes from it, with Sanu fielding it cleanly and giving the Falcons great field position. They’ll start the final quarter on the GB 32. 
10:45pm

Two point conversion! Q3 0.41 Packers 15 Falcons 37

An elaborate dance at the line of Scrimmage from Rodgers, straight out of La La Land. Falcons don’t blink or jump the snap, but there’s some redemption for Aaron Ripkowski who punches it in for the successful two point attempt. Just a 22-point deficit now which, maybe, just maybe…

No. Almost certainly not. 
10:43pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q3 0.41 Packers 13 Falcons 37   

Jordy Nelson hauls one in after slipping past Robert Alford with ease. 
10:42pm

Q3 1.52 Packers 7 Falcons 37  

That’s more like it from Rodgers, about an hour too late. Beautifully-flighted pass to Cook for a gain of 18. Rodgers forced to take off again for seven yards on the next play, it’s second and two with eight yards to go to the endzone. 
10:40pm

Q3 2.44 Packers 7 Falcons 37 

Packers go for it on fourth and two and it’s another Rodgers run. Falcons safety Keanu Neal is initially called for a rough hit on Rodgers as he slid, which is swiftly overruled as Rodgers didn’t slide with his feet first. Obvs. Anyway, first down on the Atlanta 32.
10:38pm

Q3 3.26 Packers 7 Falcons 37

Yeah, that’s ruled as incomplete. Third and 10 for GB on the Atlanta 39. Poor old Lang is being carted off and looks absolutely desolate.
10:36pm

Rodgers picked! Q3 3.26 Packers 7 Falcons 37
…Or is he? Collins got to it ahead of Cobb and looked to catch it on first viewing. Super-super-HD-slomo suggests he might not have had full control as he hit the deck. It’s being looked at in the booth. 
10:35pm

Q3 3.33 Packers 7 Falcons 37       

Guard TJ Lang is limping off for the Packers. That’s approximately their 47th injured player this season. Looks a bad one for Lang, he’s crying on the sidelines. Poor fella. 
10:33pm

Q3 3.59 Packers 7 Falcons 37      

It feels like we’re reaching the part of the game where everything that happens is an irrelevance. Nevertheless, there’s a deeply unusual 28-yard run from Rodgers, with no better options available. His longest run of the year, and the Pack are on the Atlanta 47.
10:29pm

Q3 4.15 Packers 7 Falcons 37     

Extra point is… missed. I think they’ll cope. 
10:27pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q3 4.15 Packers 7 Falcons 37              

That call has been reversed! This is massacre. 
Replays pretty definitive, this gives you some idea:

 

10:26pm

Q3 4.15 Packers 7 Falcons 31             

Freeman catches a difficult Ryan pass across the middle, he’s called as down inside the one but Atlanta are going to challenge it. On first look that looks like it crossed the plane to me… While we wait for the result of the challenge, here, look at Julio Jones doing his frightening thing:
Credit: Stewart love

10:23pm

Q3 5.50 Packers 7 Falcons 31            

Ryan out of play action looks deep in the end zone for tight end Levine Tiololo, Morgan Burnett is called for pass interference, so the ball is moved to the one yard line. Hmm, not 100 per cent sure about that call, but at this stage I might be feeling legitimate sympathy for the Packers. 
10:21pm

Q3 7.15 Packers 7 Falcons 31           

The Packers just cannot live with this. Freeman with a powerful run for 14 yards, same man again for another nine. The Falcons are on the Packers 19 and looking frightening.
10:20pm

Q3 8.23 Packers 7 Falcons 31          

Oh, outstanding from Julio Jones! Leaps several miles into the air while being absolutely nailed by Gunter from behind. Catches the ball, flips around more or less completely in the air, still hangs onto the ball! Best receiver in the league at the moment? I’ve said it. 23-yard gain, Falcons first and 10 on the GB 42. 
 

 10:18pm

Q3 8.42 Packers 7 Falcons 31         

This is “just don’t mess this up” territory for the Falcons. They’ve mostly played this game, this occasion perfectly. They need to continue that for as long as possible and it should, surely, be enough? Ryan is brought down on second and five, but the Packers are called for holding. 
10:14pm

Q3 9.19 Packers 7 Falcons 31        

Odd delay of game penalty for the Packers, which forces their kick-off back to the 30. Reaches the endzone anyway, Eric Weems takes a knee.
Liveblog fan Todd Vance has had his say:
For reference this is like being up 3-0 at halftime in that other football. But Liverpool, Istanbul ’05…and Aaron Rodgers is pretty good, so expect a better 2nd half.
10:10pm

Q3 9.19 Packers 7 Falcons 31       

Mason Crosby makes no mistake with the extra point. 
10:10pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q3 9.19 Packers 6 Falcons 31      

There it is! Rodgers and the Packers are on the scoreboard at last. Adams just about jinks past Jalen Collins and the QB finds his man. They can’t, from here, can they?

Q3 9.55 Packers 0 Falcons 31     

Rodgers finds Nelson at the two but the wideout can’t get free from Alford and into the endzone. This needs to be a TD, really. Third and goal. Atlanta burn a timeout. 
10:07pm

Q3 10.05 Packers 0 Falcons 31    

That’s tasty from Christine Michael, finding a gap through the middle of the Atlanta defense and executing a spin move to clinch the first down. Cook the target again with the next play. It’s low, which has been a hallmark for Rodgers’s passing so far tonight. Well held by Cook, gain of 26. Next pass to Cobb is too low to do anything about, but it’s second and goal for Rodgers.
10:05pm

Q3 12.34 Packers 0 Falcons 31   

Rodgers forced to call time out to prevent a delay of game penalty, but finds Cook when play resumes for a gain of 13. Here’s the astonishing Julio Jones, and that last Falcons TD:
 

 
10:01pm

Q3 13.23 Packers 0 Falcons 31  

Rodgers does not look himself. Short pass to Ty Montgomery comfortably tipped. This is starting to make me feel a bit sad. The traditional NFL narrative is that big half-time leads are eminently recoverable. You would want Rodgers over any other QB in this situation. He’s not been able to weave any of his usual magic. Here’s Montgomery again, running this time for 10 yards, to at least prevent another three and out.
9:57pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q3 13.51 Packers 0 Falcons 31   

Julio Jones is an absolute monster. Beats LaDarius Gunter, who is called for holding, breaks past another man, a stiff arm gets rid of Damarious Randall and there’s open field for the huge wideout to run into. Endzone. Touchdown, 30-to-nothing. PAT good too. Goodnight, Green Bay?

Here’s another entry from the growing folder named “Pictures of Aaron Rodgers looking sad in the state of Georgia”:

 
9:53pm

Q3 14.53 Packers 0 Falcons 24  

Rodgers can’t find Cook with his first pass of the second half, then forced to throw it away after more excellent Atlanta pressure. Then Cook drops another one. Three and out again for Rodgers. Who is this man and what has he done to that guy from the last few months?
9:51pm

Q3 15.00 Packers 0 Falcons 24 

We’re up and running again, and the Packers will start on their own 25 after a touchback from kick-off.
9.50pm

A damning statistic at half time

Green Bay total rushing yards:19 (0 TD)

Matt Ryan rushing yards: 23 (1 TD)
9:37pm

HALF TIME: Packers 0 Falcons 24

Squib kick is returned a few yards, but the clock ticks down and that’s the half. Crikey. Rodgers totally unable to get going, no thanks to Aaron Ripowski whose fumble at a crucial point was disastrous. Falcons doing what they’ve done all season. You sense their biggest danger is themselves in the second half.
9:35pm

Q2 0.03 Packers 0 Falcons 24 

Extra point is nailed and this is a chastening situation for the Packers. A lot of people crying into their plastic cheese hats right now in Wisconsin.
9:33pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q2 0.03 Packers 0 Falcons 23   

Jones gets away from LaDarius Gunter shallow on the right-hand side of the endzone and holds on to an unerring Ryan pass. It’s going to be reviewed, but Jones looked to get both of his feet down pretty clearly to me. Yep, ruling confirmed. 
9:31pm

Q2 0.07 Packers 0 Falcons 17          

Ryan nearly picked in the endzone! Pass to Sanu short. Third and one, clock is dead after the incomplete pass.

Q2 0.11 Packers 0 Falcons 17         

Ryan runs it himself, but looks to be falling forwards for the duration of his nine yard run. His team are on the GB five but are late to call their final timeout of the half. Just 11 seconds left to do something. Second and one. 
9:29pm

Q2 0.24 Packers 0 Falcons 17        

Ryan rushes forward himself again then, nosebleed approaching, shovels it to Freeman. Holds off a few tackles to take it to the GB 14. Atlanta take their second timeout. This could cap a horrible half for the Packers. 
9:27pm

Q2 0.50 Packers 0 Falcons 17       

Ryan channeling Rodgers now, evades what looked like a probable sack, then chucks a hugh one towards Aldrick Robinson but he’s lost track of it in the air and can’t make the completion. Fal cons take a time out. They’re on the halfway line. It’s third down. Completed to Gabriel! Another set of downs. 
9:25pm

Q2 1.06 Packers 0 Falcons 17      

Third and whatever for Rodgers, he’s forced backwards, scrambles right. Long old heave and it’s picked off! Caught cleanly by Ricardo Allen. “That’s essentially a punt,” says yr man on Fox. Fair enough, I guess, but no quarterback wants an interception in a game like this, regardless of circumstance. Falcons now hurrying it up. They have all three timeouts and are into GB territory with more than a minute left.
Nice snap of Ryan celebrating what was just the sixth rushing touchdown of his career, and first since 2012:

Q2 2.00 Packers 0 Falcons 17     

Rodgers gets cooking quickly. New set of downs gained in two unfussy passes. His hurry-up momentum is disturbed as Datone Jones stays down looking hurt. Now Rodgers is sacked! A snap count seemingly designed to trap the Atlanta line does nothing of the sort, minor pocket collapse and Ra’Shede Hageman reaches the QB, just. A tiny tap on his toes is enough to bring the off-balance Rodgers down. That’s a loss of 11 yards, and after the two minute warning timout it’ll be third and long for the Packers. 
9:15pm

Q2 3.19 Packers 0 Falcons 17    

A stop at last for the Packers, cleanly caught on the GB 10. Three minutes left in the half, team in dire straits. Surely, now it’s Aaron Rodgers o’clock?
9:14pm

Q2 4.46 Packers 0 Falcons 17   

More solid, sensible work from Ryan and his Falcons. All the time in the world to complete a 17-yard pass to Coleman, then another three yard gain. But there’s an error! Taylor Gabriel in motion behind the line of scrimmage, a play seemingly designed to receive the snap as he crosses behind the center, but it’s horribly botched and GB have a chance to recover. No dice, though. What an escape for Atlanta, on their own 43. 
9:10pm

Q2 6.10 Packers 0 Falcons 17  

Eric Weems attempts another punt return, with what looks like a decent field in front of him, but he’s brought down quickly. Falcons will start on their own 23. Rodgers, meanwhile, is lamenting the current state of affairs:

Rodgers, surely furious about the prospect of heading into halftime laying an egg, wastes no time on this drive. Straight to Nelson for eight yards, but his second attempt to find the WR sees him well covered by Robert Alford. Third and two. Rodgers looks to Cobb, but it’s short. Three and out for the Packers. This is not going to plan. Punting unit on. 
9:03pm

Beautiful from Ryan

Lots of love from the Sky Sports team about the diversity of Atlanta’s offense. One thing the Packers wouldn’t have prepared for much is Ryan doing an impression of Cam Newton and becoming a weapon on the ground. A 14-yard run the source of his team’s second TD. Well summarised by Will Gavin:
 

 
9:01pm

Q2 7.31 Packers 0 Falcons 17

PAT is good. Ryan on fire! 
9:00pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q2 7.31 Packers 0 Falcons 16    

Falcons on the GB 14. Ryan targets the corner of the end zone on first down but no-one’s there. The field then inexplicably opens up in front of him. Ryan’s off! He’s reluctantly off! There’s no-one there! He’s into the end zone!
8:59pm

Q2 7.31 Packers 0 Falcons 10   

Mack is back in. Return of the Ma… Never mind. Short Ryan pass to Jones doesn’t connect. Third and 10, but Ryan finds Jones this time, head down, space to run into, that’s a gain of 19 yards and a new set of downs.  

Q2 8.43 Packers 0 Falcons 10  

It’s the first airing for the Sad Fox Sports Injury Themetune as Alex Mack stays down after Devonta Freeman is held up on a run play.

8:52pm

FUMBLE! Q2 10.59 Packers 0 Falcons 10
Hugely promising drive for the Packers, then a fantastic run from Aaron Ripowski, in for Ty Montgomery, who is still moving forward with four Falcons in close proximity. But he’s lost it as he’s brought to ground! And Atlanta recover it! It is no longer Rodgers o’clock, but he could have done very little about it.
8:49pm

Q2 12.20 Packers 0 Falcons 10        

It’s feeling increasingly like Aaron Rodgers o’clock. Quick pass to Jared Cook for five yards and a first down.
8:48pm

Q2 12.50 Packers 0 Falcons 10       

This is much more like it from Rodgers. Seventeen yard gain for Cobb with the first pass of the quarter. Then another for 22 yards to the same man. Ball is on the Atlanta 31, Rodgers has second and seven. Ty Montgomery is looking pained as runs off awkwardly. 

8:46pm

QB watch

Rodgers is 4/6 for 50 yards and no score so far. Ryan, meanwhile is 11/16, has 125 yards and a touchdown. Frustrating start for the visiting side, but that can all change with one crushingly inevitable amazing hail mary.

 
8:44pm

Q1 0.00 Packers 0 Falcons 10

The boy Aaron completes a short pass out to Davante Adams which takes his team two yards up the field. That’s the end of the first quarter.
8:43pm
Q1 0.25 Packers 0 Falcons 10      

Matt Bosher kicks off for the Falcons. It’s a touchback. Come on then, Aaron. Whadayagot?

8:40pm

FIELD GOAL! Q1 0.17 Packers 0 Falcons 10      

Holding called against Alex Mack on third down, and here comes the field goal unit. Twenty-eight-yard attempt for Matt Bryant who makes no mistake.
8:38pm

Q1 0.25 Packers 0 Falcons 7        

Tevin Coleman becomes the sixth receiver targeted by Ryan so far. Hard to defend against this. It’s first and 10 on the Packers 11. Sanu punches a gap in the D-line after taking the snap himself for seven yards. Ryan very close indeed now. Looping pass to Sanu in the end down, but decent coverage from Randall means he can’t pull off the one-handed catch. False start penalty makes it 3rd and eight. 
8:35pm

Q1 1.44 Packers 0 Falcons 7       

Great work from tight end Austin Hooper, catching a last-ditch Ryan pass just shy of a first down, but a stutter step and breaking two tackles gets his team further up the field than they’d have expected. Another mid-range pass to Sanu on first down puts the Falcons on the Packers 23.

Q1 2.58 Packers 0 Falcons 7      

O-line looking quite tasty for Ryan, he’s barely had to take a lateral step so far in this game, save for the mini-scramble for the opening score. He hands off to Devonta Freeman on 2nd and 5, but the running back is held up for a loss of two. Third and 7. 
8:31pm

Q1 4.22 Packers 0 Falcons 7     

Falcons will start on the 31. A false start penalty means they’re immediately sent back to the 26-yard line. Second and 13 for Ryan. Falcons lose five yards. Pocket holds nicely for Ryan, Sanu in the slot has time and space to make a simple catch on the right for a first down.
8:28pm

Q1 5.35 Packers 0 Falcons 7    

Deion Jones, rookie linebacker gets to Rodgers! The QB avoids the sack, but it’s a loss of probabl 10. 41 yard FG attempt for Mason Crosby… He’s missed it! Wide of the right post. No problem with the snap or hold. Big hold for the Falcons!
8:26pm

Q1 5.44 Packers 0 Falcons 7   

Big shot for Jared Cook in the end zone from Rodgers but the wideout who has had the magical Packers injection which makes previously unspectacular players Immense Football Beasts can’t reach it. Play clock ticking down for Rodgers so he calls time out, it’s third and four.
 

 
8:24pm

Q1 6.28 Packers 0 Falcons 7  

There’s Nelson! And how many times have we seen that? Falcons advancing at speed on Rodgers, he releases at just the right time, and finds his broken-ribbed wide receiver for a gain of 27 yards. Similar story on the next play, GB have a new set of downs on the Atlanta 29

8:22pm

Q1 8.20 Packers 0 Falcons 7 

Aaron Rodgers starts with… a run play? There’s been a glitch in the matrix! Picks up four, it’s second and six on the 31.
8:20pm

Q1 8.24 Packers 0 Falcons 7

That was an exercise in calmness from Matt Ryan. A few big shots went awry but he and his team held their nerve, for maximum points on their opening drive. What’s Rodgers got? Fair catch called for from the kick-off and we’re about to find out. 
Scary lads, those Falcons:

 
8:17pm

Q1 8.24 Packers 0 Falcons 7

Extra point is good. Very impressive drive to start the game for the home team.
8:16pm

TOUCHDOWN! Q1 8.24 Packers 0 Falcons 6

Ryan scrambles slightly from the pocket but finds Sanu with a shovel pass for the game’s first score. There’s an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Packers too…

8:15pm

Q1 8.38 Packers 0 Falcons 0

Sanu with a big play on third an 11 for another set of downs, and now the Falcons get it going. Patrick DeMarco with a huge gain out on the right, to give the Falcons first and goal. Two good stops from the Packers, it’s third and goal from the three.
8:12pm

Q1 11.10 Packers 0 Falcons 0

Packers send the blitz on the third down but Ryan can get it away before Clay Matthews arrives on the scene. Julio Jones the receiver and he’s just far enough for another first down. Another big throw towards Jones soon after, with the Falcons on second and 11. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has Jones well covered, and now it’s third down for Ryan.
8:09pm

Q1 13.35 Packers 0 Falcons 0

Steady start from Ryan, who gets a quick first down with two short throws. Taylor Gabriel wide open into Packers territory, Ryan throws to him beautifully but the rookie can’t bring it down. Gain of four on second down, it’s third and six for the Falcons.
8:08pm

Q1 14.56 Packers 0 Falcons 0

Mason Crosby gets us started and Eric Weems opts out of a fair catch. The wide receiver is nailed on his own 19. Packers tackler Kentrell Brice is slow to get up. Here comes Matt Ryan.
8:06pm

Q1 15.00 Packers 0 Falcons 0

Here we go