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Green Bay Packers fend off Falcons' furious rally

The Green Bay Packers overcame a career game by Julio Jones to knock off the Atlanta Falcons, 43-37, on Monday night. Our takeaways:

  1. The Packers' Lambeau Field dominance continued. They had as many first downs (22) at halftime as the Falcons had offensive plays. Green Bay became the first team since the 1973 Dolphins to lead by 20 or more points in five different home games. They have outscored opponents by an average of 25.3 points at halftime in their past six home games. They took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half and paid for it, allowing 30 points in the final 30 minutes. (It didn't help matters that Eddie Lacy left the game after just 13 carries with a hip bruise.) That should provide a useful lesson entering the stretch run as the NFC favorite.
  1. Jones was the lone bright spot for the Falcons, hauling in 11 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown a week after toasting All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson for a career-high 189 yards. Jones came one foot shy of adding another 31-yard touchdown and was tackled just short of the goal line on a 79-yard bomb. For degree of difficulty and athletic brilliance, the past two games rank with the end of Calvin Johnson's 2011 season as the most impressive stretch by a wide receiver in recent memory. En route to setting the single-game franchise record for receiving yards, Jones also bypassed Roddy White (1,389) for the most single-season receiving yards in Falcons history. Leading the league by 53 receiving yards, Jones is backing up his offseason contention that he is the best receiver in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Falcons, a hip injury prevented him from taking the field on the Falcons' final offensive possession.
  1. Jones wasn't the only superstar wide receiver on the field. When the Falcons got within 10 points early in the fourth quarter, Jordy Nelson executed a perfect double move for a 60-yard reception to give his team breathing room. He's now tied with Julius Thomas for the NFL lead with 12 touchdown receptions and has matched Billy Howton's 62-year-old franchise record with seven scores of 40 or more yards in a season. As exceptional as Nelson has been, Randall Cobb showed once again why he is Aaron Rodgers' go-to receiver on broken plays and third downs. Among the NFL leaders in first-down percentage and catch percentage, Cobb will be a priority free agent for the Packers next offseason.
  1. The Falcons have done well to flirt with 1,000 yards over the past two weeks against the two teams with the NFL's best record, but this offense isn't without issues. Steven Jackson's inability to catch, turn and run in the passing game is evident. Throw in a slower-moving Roddy White, and Matt Ryan is overly dependent on Jones to move the chains. Along with the league's most generous defense, that will be a problem if Atlanta stumbles into the postseason, via the tainted NFC South title.
  1. As the two NFC powerhouses, the Packers and resurgent Seahawks appear to be on a collision course for the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. It's a potential matchup that would provide NFL fans with the MVP favorite trying to decipher a historically great defense in one of football's best atmospheres.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 14 and discusses the Seahawks' return to Super Bowl form. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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