GREEN BAY, Wis. – Another big first half helped the Green Bay Packers withstand a furious rally by the desperate Atlanta Falcons.
Eddie Lacy ran for a touchdown and caught one of Aaron Rodgers’ three TD passes, and Green Bay built a 24-point lead before holding on for a 43-37 victory Monday night.
The Packers (10-3) earned their fifth consecutive win to stay a game up on Detroit in the NFC North. Atlanta, 5-8, remained in a first-place tie with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.
“Good victory tonight; our seventh victory at home this year … 10 victories has always been kind of a benchmark,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “In the NFC, 11 wins will probably be more of a benchmark this year.”
Julio Jones had a career-best 259 yards receiving for the Falcons before leaving with a hip injury. Jones had a 22-yard touchdown catch in a 20-point fourth quarter that helped Atlanta cut into Green Bay’s big lead.
Matt Ryan’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas with 2:15 left got Atlanta within six. But the Packers recovered the onside kick.
Lacy left in the fourth quarter with bruised hip. Backup running back James Starks effectively ended Atlanta’s upset hopes with a 41-yard run to the Falcons 6 with 1:37 left.
Atlanta came frustratingly close to a rare victory in Green Bay, but the Packers’ porous pass defense may have given potential playoff foes some hope that Lambeau Field may not be that impenetrable.
“Defensively, a tale of two halves. You have to give Atlanta’s offense a lot of credit,” McCarthy said. “We have plenty to clean up.”
Ryan threw for 375 yards and four scores, including a 1-yard TD to Roddy White with 6:20 left that trimmed Green Bay’s lead to 40-30.
Mason Crosby kicked a 53-yard field goal with 4:37 left, helping the Packers withstand Atlanta’s final punch.
Rodgers finished 24 of 36 for 327 yards. Lacy had 73 yards on 13 carries, and 33 yards on five catches.
The tough running back wiggled from side to side to celebrate his 1-yard TD reception with 4:20 left in the second quarter. The score was set up by safety Morgan Burnett’s interception of Ryan.
The Packers, who opened a 31-7 halftime lead, had outscored opponents 167-44 before halftime coming into the night.
Ryan got the Falcons off to a fast start in the third but Green Bay was able to hang on at the end.
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