GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A smattering of boos cascaded down on the Green Bay Packers at the half, trailing by double digits on a bone-chilling afternoon at Lambeau Field.
This wasn't a good sign for a team that hasn't played well late in games, especially without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Coach Mike McCarthy went into the locker room wondering how much energy his players had with the team's playoff prospects in jeopardy.
Green Bay responded with its most complete performance in weeks. Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards and a maligned defense forced a key fourth-quarter turnover in a 22-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that ended a five-game winless stretch.
"Good to win, it's been a while. Forgot what it felt like," McCarthy said.
"But I'll say this — I really like the football team, particularly at halftime, coming in, getting booed at home, and just the energy in the locker room. They never blinked, they stayed the course," said the even-keeled coach.
It came down to defense in the final few minutes of a nail-biting fourth quarter.
Mike Neal's sack forced Matt Ryan to fumble, and defensive lineman Johnny Jolly scooped up the loose ball and celebrated with a little belly dance. Four plays later, Flynn found Andrew Quarless for a 2-yard touchdown pass for the 22-21 lead for the Packers (6-6-1) with about 12 minutes left.
"We needed to have fun. That's what we did today," Jolly said. "We went out there and left everything that we had and made plays and had fun."
Quarless' TD completed a comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit and whipped the bundled-up fans into a frigid frenzy.
It was 9 degrees when the game started, with a wind chill of minus-1. The stadium looked as if it was encased in a snow globe at times with much of the game played while light, powdery snowflakes gently fell to the worn turf.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal attempt into the wind with 6:42 left. The Falcons (3-10) got to the 33 with 2 minutes left, but Tony Gonzalez dropped a short pass from Ryan under tight coverage by Jarrett Bush.
The Falcons, who play home games at the Georgia Dome, didn't think weather was as much of a factor as the missed opportunities.