Falcons rally past Packers as rookie Bijan Robinson sets up winning field goal

AP photo by John Bazemore / Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson rumbles over Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker during the first half of Sunday's game.

ATLANTA — When head coach Arthur Smith sent the word to his offense that they were going for it on fourth down, the Atlanta Falcons were fired up.

Bijan Robinson and his blockers were determined to make sure it was the right call.

Capping another dynamic day for the rookie running back, Robinson ripped off a 7-yard run on fourth-and-1 to set up Younghoe Koo's 25-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining as the Falcons rallied for a 25-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

"When you get told, 'Get the first down,' you've got to do everything you can to do it for your team," Robinson said.

He rushed for 124 yards on 19 carries and hauled in four catches for another 48 yards, showing why the Falcons (2-0) selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in April's NFL draft even though running backs aren't supposed to go that high anymore.

"When you get the right guy for your team, that's all you can ask for," Robinson said, breaking into a big smile.

The fourth-down conversion came with the Falcons in field-goal range at the Green Bay 23-yard line but 2:08 left on the clock. Smith decided to gamble, not wanting to leave the Packers plenty of time to drive for a field-goal attempt of their own.

"It shows he's got a lot of confidence in us," left tackle Jake Matthews said. "It was exciting to get that fourth down."

The Packers (1-1) squandered a 24-12 lead and three more touchdown passes from fourth-year pro Jordan Love, who now has a half-dozen in his first two games as Aaron Rodgers' replacement.

Atlanta's own young quarterback, second-year pro Desmond Ridder, sparked the comeback with a bootleg run for a 6-yard touchdown on fourth-and-4 with just less than 12 minutes remaining. Then it was Ridder and Robinson teaming up for drives that set up two of Koo's four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 8:13 remaining.

Robinson had 56 yards rushing and 27 yards receiving in his NFL debut last week, a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He was even better against the Packers.

Love was 14-of-25 passing for 151 yards and hooked up with a pair of rookies for three scores, not too shabby considering the injury-depleted offense around him. The Green Bay offense dried up in the final quarter, though, allowing the Falcons to move to 2-0 for only the 11th time in franchise history.

"It just comes down to execution and being better in the fourth quarter and being able to play a full game," Love said.

On their last three possessions, the Packers managed just 11 yards and no first downs, with Love failing to complete any of his six passes.

The Falcons pounded Green Bay into submission, finishing with 211 yards rushing and 446 yards overall. The Packers had just 224 yards, including 84 on the ground.

"They shredded us consistently," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.

The first three quarters went much better for the visitors. Love connected with second-round pick Jayden Reed for touchdowns of 10 and 9 yards, the first scores of the receiver's young career. Love also went to Dontayvion Wicks on a 32-yard score that gave the fifth-round draft pick his first touchdown as a pro.

The Packers were missing three injured starters on offense and lost another during the game, leaving Love to play behind a patched-together line.

"It's tough not having those guys out there, but it's never an excuse," Love said. "It's always next man up. Other guys got to step up. I think guys did step up, but it sucks not having them."

While the Falcons converted a couple of huge fourth-down plays in the final period, the Packers messed up one of their own that could have helped them fend off the Atlanta comeback.

After the Falcons closed to 24-22, Green Bay decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at its own 34. Love dove through a gap on the right side, but there was a problem. He didn't have the ball. It was never snapped, and no one else on offense moved.

The Packers were penalized for a false start and had to punt. The Falcons drove for the winning field goal.

"I said the wrong thing, so it's pretty much not a play until I give the live word," Love conceded. "I gave the wrong live word on that one."

Ridder threw the first interception of his NFL career and had a couple of other errant passes that should have been picked off, but he came through when it mattered.

"He's a winner," said Smith, the former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator in his third season as head coach in Atlanta. "The guys believe in him. You can see it in their eyes. In critical situations, he's at his best."

Ridder was 19-of-32 passing for 237 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Drake London with 12 seconds remaining in the first half. The Falcons quarterback also ran 10 times for 39 yards.

Although he was not included on the team's final injury report ahead of the game, Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) did not play for the second straight week.

The Falcons will be seeking just their third 3-0 start in 58 seasons when they visit the Detroit Lions next Sunday, when the Packers play their home finale by hosting the New Orleans Saints.