(Reuters) - The Green Bay Packers produced a near flawless first half before holding on for a 43-37 home win over the Atlanta Falcons to cement their place at the top of the NFC North division on Monday.
The Packers scored points on all five of their first half scoring drives, including four touchdowns, to open up a dominant 31-7 lead before stifling a Falcons fightback to improve to a joint-NFL best 10-3.
Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones notched up 259 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons rallied to within six points in the fourth quarter, but his side fell to 5-8 and into a tie at the top of the woeful NFC South with the New Orleans Saints.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers amassed 327 yards and tossed three touchdowns, wide receiver Jordy Nelson had two TDs and 146 yards and running back Eddie Lacy scored twice and had 106 all-purpose yards to send the side to a fifth straight win.
Both teams traded opening drive rushing touchdowns for an early 7-7 scoreline before the Packers exploded.
Lacy opened the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run and Mason Crosby knocked over a field goal to push the lead to 17-7 before Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw a critical interception.
Morgan Burnett pulled the wayward pass down and returned the ball 32 yards to the red zone, setting up field position for Lacy to score again. Nelson added a 10-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter before the Packers completed the half by blocking a Falcons field goal attempt. Jones opened the second half with a 79-yard reception to set up an Eric Weems touchdown before traded field goals took the score to 34-17.
A 22-yard catch and score for Jones pulled the Falcons to 34-24 but Rodgers connected with Nelson for a 60-yard touchdown soon after to extend the lead again. Roddy White scored with just over six minutes left to once again get within 10 but a failed two-point conversion kept the pressure valve off the Packers.
Crosby added his third field goal for some insurance points and while Harry Douglas scored the Falcons fourth second half touchdown with just over two minutes remaining but they failed to get another look at the football.
Ryan finished with four touchdowns and 375 yards in a losing effort.
Writing by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien