October 10, 2011
The Green Bay Packers maintained their unbeaten record by mounting a second-half comeback against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Sunday night, but the 25-14 win didn't take away the bad feelings several Packers players had after the game. Specifically, the Falcons' alleged preference for low blocks and late hits rubbed Green Bay the wrong way.
"It's unnecessary," defensive end Ryan Pickett(notes) said after the game. "They call it playing physical. But it's after the whistle. It's not physical. We know it watching tape that [...] they like to hit after the whistle. You have to [be] watching yourself around the piles. They point at you if you react. We just felt like if we just punch them upfront at the start it would end that. It's frustrating to a point, but we know we have to dominate them upfront in between that stuff."
Linebacker A.J. Hawk(notes), who was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a fishy-looking flop by Falcons center Joe Hawley(notes) with 11:12 left in the game, said that "the guy went to the ground … I'm not that strong. I wish I was strong enough to do that."
It was one of many interesting flags by Jeff Triplette's goon squad (in this humble writer's opinion, Triplette's been the game's worst official over the last few years), and the call itself was inexcusable. In a day that was dominated by flops (ask Jimmy Graham and Deion Branch about that), the NFL had better take a sharper look at this stuff if it doesn't want its game to become whatever the NBA's turned into.
Hawley pushed Hawk in the back after the play was over. Hawk retaliated with a shove, and Hawley went down in a way that would have made the most reprehensible futbol flopper ashamed.
B.J. Raji(notes) may have had the sharpest jabs for the Falcons. "Great teams don't indulge in the kind of cheap stuff the Falcons do," Raji said. "We're the champions and we play that way. We walk away from the stuff they pull. These guys are coached to play after the whistle.
"I don't know what the deal is. I think it's a lack of talent on their part. We didn't worry about any of that. We came out and played our game."
Harsh words, but the Packers had a right to crow after the game. They scored 25 unanswered points to embarrass the Falcons less than a year after blowing them away, 48-21, in the divisional playoff round at the Georgia Dome. Perhaps the Falcons are getting a bit too frustrated at their inability to get past the Super Bowl champs.
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