Packers 33, Falcons 25
-- The Green Bay Packers are sure glad Samkon Gado put his medical career on hold.
Making his first career start on his 23rd birthday, the Nigerian-born Gado scored three touchdowns and the Packers won for only the second time this season, upsetting the first-place Atlanta Falcons, 33-25, on Sunday.
"It was surreal," said Gado, who was given the game ball. "I didn't even think it was a reality. But I'm here. I'm just enjoying it as much as possible."
Brett Favre threw for 252 yards and came up with a great escape on a drive that led to Ryan Longwell's fourth field goal, a 51-yarder with 4 minutes 1 second remaining that restored Green Bay's nine-point lead.
Less than a minute later, rookie wide receiver Roddy White finished off the Falcons (6-3) with their sixth fumble of the day. Nick Barnett scooped up the ball and returned it to the Atlanta 2, where Gado powered into the end zone for his third touchdown.
Gado, who was unemployed less than a month ago, was the fifth player to start at running back in Green Bay's revolving door backfield -- and certainly the most improbable -- after season-ending injuries to Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport.
Gado started only two games at Division I-AA Liberty, where he was a pre-med major with hopes of becoming a doctor. Instead, he caught on with the Packers, moving up from the practice squad two weeks ago as the losses piled up for the storied franchise.
"It doesn't surprise me," Favre said of Gado. "In some ways, he came out of nowhere, but, in some ways, I did too. I just told him this week, 'You just need the opportunity.' "
For one week at least, Gado helped Green Bay (2-7) look like the Pack of old. He rushed for 103 yards on 25 carries, and even a pair of fumbles didn't hurt -- teammates fell on the ball both times.
"I just hope I'm here at the end of the year," Gado said.
Gado scored twice in the first quarter to give the Packers a quick 14-0 lead. The Falcons fought back to tie it, but Longwell's 46-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half put Green Bay ahead for good. Longwell booted three more field goals in the second half, also connecting from 53 yards.
Atlanta dropped a game behind Carolina for the lead in the NFC South, tied with Tampa Bay for second place in the highly competitive division.
The Falcons were facing a team that was off to its worst start since 1986. But that was somewhat misleading, with the Packers being the first team to lose seven of its first eight games while actually outscoring its opponents.
Turnovers had been the big problem, but it was the Falcons who had trouble holding on to the ball in this game. Vick fumbled three times, losing one. Warrick Dunn also lost the ball, leading to Green Bay's second touchdown.
"We turned the ball over three times," Vick said. "You can't do that in this league."
Vick threw for 209 yards and a couple of touchdowns, including a 19-yarder to White for the rookie's first career score with just 1:43 remaining. The Falcons gave themselves hope by passing for a two-point conversion, but Green Bay recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Packers drove 74 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession. Favre completed four passes for 60 yards and Gado took care of the rest, finishing it off with a nine-yard touchdown run through a huge hole. Then, Dunn was hit from behind by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila after catching a screen pass, the ball squirting right into the hands of safety Mark Roman at the Falcons 21. Gado had a 17-yard run, then hauled in a one-yard touchdown pass from Favre to make it 14-0 just over seven minutes into the game.