Atlanta’s offense disappeared after taking a 21-10 lead at Green Bay on Sunday. The Falcons were shut out in the second half of the 22-21 loss to the Packers.
It was a disappointing finish after such a strong start. Steven Jackson had 55 yards rushing and White had five catches as the Falcons built the first-half lead.
“It’s a game you’ve got to win,” White said.
White said he knew the Falcons couldn’t sit on the lead.
“When I came back in to the locker room, I told everybody we needed another field goal, another score to win this game,” he said. “We knew they were going to make their runs. There’s always ebbs and flows in games. You know at some point they’re going to make their run so we had to counter and get a drive together and score whatever points we could get. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”
The Falcons (3-10) had no first downs in the third quarter and then were hurt by two fourth-quarter turnovers — a fumble and interception by quarterback Matt Ryan.
Late dropped passes by Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez also were costly as the Falcons failed in their attempt to drive for a last-minute field goal.
Coach Mike Smith said the frozen turf at Lambeau Field hardened after halftime, making traction more difficult, especially for the running game. Jackson had only 16 yards rushing in the second half.
The temperature for kickoff was 9 degrees.
“I think that the field got frozen in the second half,” Smith said Monday. “I think if you look at the numbers on both sides of the ball, the running numbers went down in the second half. The footing was much different in the second half than it was in the first half.”
Smith said the field was not an excuse for poor execution.
“This group doesn’t give up,” Smith said. “We’re playing hard. We’re playing with a lot of energy. We’re just not very precise in our execution. That’s the thing that’s hurt us the most.”
The Falcons couldn’t establish their offense when the running game faltered. Jackson was held to 3 yards on Atlanta’s first snap of the second half. The possession ended quickly with two incompletions.
On their second series of the third quarter, the Falcons again tried to run on first down. This time, Jackson was stopped for only 1 yard, setting the stage for another three-and-out.
“That was a really tough stretch, anytime you string together consecutive three-and-outs,” offensive guard Justin Blaylock said Monday. “That does not give you a chance to win ballgames, no matter what kind of lead you build up.”
The Falcons managed only 136 yards in the second half and 285 total yards.
The offense had big assists from Atlanta’s defense. One of the three first-half touchdowns came on a 71-yard interception return by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
William Moore sacked Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn in the second quarter, causing a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Malliciah Goodman at the Packers 13. Ryan took advantage of the short field with a four-play drive capped by his touchdown pass to Gonzalez.
It was a rare highlight for the offense.
“It’s disappointing,” Ryan said. “We jumped out to an early lead, the defense created some turnovers for us and we capitalized on it, but we weren’t able to get it done offensively in the second half. We had chances, we moved the ball in a couple different situations, but stalled out when we got into scoring situations. We have to be better than that.”
The architect of the Atlanta offense could soon be leaving. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has interviewed for the Boise State head coach position.
Koetter, a native of Pocatello, Idaho, was Boise State’s coach from 1998-2000.
“I know he has ties and was the coach there before,” Blaylock said. “I love the guy and wish him the best, no matter what happens. I hope it’s here.”