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Green Bay Packers implode in first half vs. Falcons

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Green Bay Packers fans want the first half of Sunday's NFC title game erased from human memory. Can you blame them?

Instead of surging into the Georgia Dome to go punch-for-punch with the high-flying Falcons, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers simply couldn't get out of their own way.

Let's examine the wreckage from the ugliest first half we've ever seen from a Rodgers-led team, who lost 44-21 to the Falcons to send Atlanta to their first Super Bowl since 1998:

»  That's no exaggeration, by the way, with NFL Research noting that Sunday marks the first time the Packers have trailed by 24-plus points at the break during the Rodgers era, dating back to 2008.

»  The blame begins on defense, where Green Bay could only watch as otherworldly Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ripped through the secondary for 20 first downs and a whopping 325 total yards of offense. Ryan connected with eight separate targets, overcoming a handful of drops to author one massive chunk play after the next.

»  After the Falcons took the opening possession 80 yards off 13 plays -- capped by Ryan's touchdown strike to Mohamed Sanu -- it was time for the Packers to do their part. Instead, Green Bay's Mason Crosby botched a 41-yard field goal try, becoming the first kicker to miss in this year's playoffs. Doh!

»  On their following drive, trailing 10-0, Green Bay saw the series blown to bits when fullback Aaron Ripkowski barreled to the Atlanta 11-yard line only to fumble the ball away to the Falcons at the goal line for what was ultimately ruled a touchback.

»  On their following possession, trailing 17-0, Green Bay went three-and-out. One drive later, Rodgers unfurled a deep shot downfield on third-and-long -- right into the hands of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. Scary stuff.

»  Beyond the inability to score -- or stop the Falcons on any level -- Green Bay's lauded pass protection crumbled in the first half, allowing a sack and four rugged hits on Rodgers.

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