Having seen the impact Turner could have in the Week 12 matchup against the Packers when he pounded out 110 yards on 23 carries in Atlanta’s 20-17 win, the Packers limited him to just 39 yards on 10 attempts on Saturday night. That matched his season low of 39 yards on 17 carries against Baltimore in Week 10.
“We just knew that to beat the Atlanta Falcons, you have to stop No. 33, and we were able to do that today,” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “He is a great running back and he finishes runs. We were just determined to gang tackle and not let him beat us.
“The fact that we were able to shut down Turner today played a big role in our scheme because that’s how we play. We like to get teams in third-and-long and pressure them and make them make bad decisions, and we were able to do that today.”
In the earlier meeting this season, Turner did most of his damage on first down, racking up 90 of his yards on 14 carries (6.4 avg) and breaking several tackles along the way. Turner’s only explosive run on Saturday night came on the Falcons’ first score of the game, a 12-yard run up the middle into the end zone after the Falcons started in Green Bay territory following wide receiver Greg Jennings’ fumble.
“He had one run on us, but for the most part we put a real emphasis on tackling this week with what he was able to do against us the first time around,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I think the game plan that they would have liked to have run, run the ball to set up the pass, didn’t really work out.
“I think last time we were down here we were behind the eight-ball a little bit. We couldn’t tackle and we couldn’t play the run very well, so this time around we were able to do that.”
Capers utilized a four-man front at times, and the Packers kept an extra defensive lineman active on the gameday roster with Howard Green up after being inactive last week at Philadelphia.
“You’ve got to give credit to the guys up front,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “Our D-line does a great job of getting penetration, making guys run east and west instead of north and south. That was a big part of today, and then getting up on a team by three scores changes their game plan a little bit.”
The Packers went into halftime with a 28-14 lead, and then the offense added to it with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off with a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That 21-point deficit put the Falcons in a situation where they were forced to abandon their running game, with Turner carrying the ball just one time in the second half.
A Falcons team that ranked No. 3 in the NFL in third-down conversions (46.7 percent) this season was successful on just 1-of-5 in the second half and 3-of-10 on the night against the Packers.
The 337-pound Raji took on a new role on Saturday night, lining up in the backfield on running back John Kuhn’s 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Raji said the package was put in late in the week, and the fullback role was one he last remembered fulfilling in “gym class” as a kid.
“The coaches just instructed me to move when the ball moves, hit the hole right off the tackle, and clear the hole for John Kuhn,” Raji said. “That’s what I did.
“I’m a team player. Anything for the team. I take it as a compliment for the offensive coaches to think that I can get the job done. I was glad that I was able to fulfill my job.”
Raji also registered his first career postseason sack when he brought down Ryan, his one-time Boston College teammate, in the fourth quarter.
The Packers sacked Ryan five times on Saturday night, the most allowed in a game this season by a Falcons team that ranked No. 3 the league with just 23 sacks.
Matthews led the way with two sacks as he became the first player in franchise history to register a sack in each of his first three career postseason games.
With four sacks in three postseason games played, the second-year linebacker already ranks tied for No. 2 in team annals for career playoff sacks with defensive end Sean Jones and defensive end/linebacker Keith McKenzie. Defensive end Reggie White is the team’s all-time postseason sacks leader with eight.
With 48 points on Saturday night, the Packers set a team record for most points scored in a playoff game, topping the mark of 45 points in last season’s 51-45 overtime loss at Arizona in a Wild Card contest.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Packers became the first team in NFL history to score 45-plus points in a playoff game in back-to-back seasons.
Green Bay's 28-point second quarter also set a team playoff record for scoring in any quarter, topping the Packers' mark of 24 points in the second quarter vs. the N.Y. Giants on Dec. 31, 1961, in the NFL Championship.
Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, No. 1 seeds in the NFC have been dominant in the divisional round of the playoffs, and the Packers joined some elite company with a win on Saturday night.
Entering Saturday night’s game, the top seeds in the NFC had an 18-2 record in the divisional round. The only No. 6 seed to beat a No. 1 seed was the Philadelphia Eagles topping the N.Y. Giants, 23-11, on Jan. 11, 2009.
A day off
Punter Tim Masthay’s day was limited to just holding for Mason Crosby’s field goals and extra points on Saturday night.
It was the first time in franchise postseason history that the Packers did not punt in a game. The last time it happened in an NFL playoff game was on Jan. 11, 2004, when neither the Chiefs nor Colts punted in Indianapolis’ 38-31 win.
Safety Nick Collins left the game to get an IV for cramps, but did return. Cornerback Pat Lee sustained a hip injury and did not return, while Kuhn suffered a stinger and also did not return. Rodgers had cramps late in the game and the Packers took him out for precautionary reasons with the game well in hand.