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Packers Top Falcons 34-20 for 5th Win of the Season

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Packers Top Falcons 34-20 for 5th Win of the Season

The Green Bay Packers (5-7-1, 1-2-1 NFC North) finally found some rhythm in Week 14 and picked up a much needed 34-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons (4-9, 2-2 NFC South) Sunday at Lambeau Field.

For the first time in his NFL career, Aaron Rodgers took the field without Mike McCarthy at the helm. The transition however, did not seem to phase him, as he went 21 for 32 for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns, according to ESPN statistics. With a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the third quarter, Rodgers snapped Tom Brady’s record of 359 consecutive pass attempts without an interception over the 2010-2011 seasons.

Interim head coach Joe Philbin started off a bit shaky with two challenge calls on defense less than two minutes into the game that were not overturned but he and the team responded accordingly. The Packers first drive of the game was one of the best they had all season and it only opened the floodgates for them throughout the rest of the game.

The Packers, who on both sides of the ball, looked much more efficient, were able to put up 34 unanswered points after the Falcons struck first with a Julio Jones touchdown on their first drive.

“It was an emotional week, we all know that,” Philbin said at the post-game press conference. “I feel very happy for the organization, the players, the staff and everybody who has worked so hard to make this such a unique place. There was a lot of emotion. I told the team I was very, very proud to be their head coach today.”

 

What we learned: The offense can still make plays

Although the Falcons defense is nowhere near top tier, the Packers offense seemed to have some life for the first time in weeks Sunday.

Green Bay was utilizing multiple different players on each drive throughout the afternoon and they seemed to finally be connecting a bit more. Over the last couple of weeks Rodgers has emphasized how “close” the Packers were to connecting better offensively and we started to see a tad more of that today.

One play that turned heads was when both running backs, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, lined up in the backfield. Williams set up a fantastic block for Jones who was able to bust through for a first down. The play call was one of the most creative, yet efficient all season and I truly hope to see more plays like that in the weeks to come.

 

What went right: Packers avoid anymore injuries

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Packers had 3 key players out with injuries on their offensive line. Lane Taylor, Byron Bell, and Bryan Bulaga all were inactive, so Green Bay could not afford anymore injuries in their starting lineups.  

Luckily, and for what seemed like the first time all season, the Packers left this game without losing any more guys to injuries. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark and offensive guard Justin McCray both temporarily left the game with injuries but were quickly able to return for Green Bay.

With a big NFC North matchup in Chicago next weekend, it was huge for the Packers to come out of this game healthy so that they could begin to look towards what should be an exciting divisional matchup next week.

 

What went wrong: Still not enough of Aaron Jones

After McCarthy finally gave Aaron Jones the starting position the last few weeks, it was quite strange to see Jamaal Williams get the nod today. Just as he has continued to do all season, on Sunday when Aaron Jones got the ball he was able to make plays.

He had just 17 carries but accounted for 78 yards and an impressive 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

In his last five games, Jones has had seven total touchdowns, so why he did not get the start, and why he still does not get more carries continues to be a mystery in Green Bay.

 

Offensive Player of the Game: Aaron Rodgers

It was great to see Rodgers begin to find his rhythm against Atlanta Sunday. In addition to an impressive stat line with his arm, 12 was able to make things happen with his feet as well. Rodgers had 3 carries for 44 yards Sunday and averaged about 14.7 yards each time he carried the ball, according to ESPN stats.

“I think Joe did a great job on the calls with the flow and the timing,” Rodgers said in the post- game press conference. It was the first time in a few weeks that Rodgers looked confident in his receivers and confident when lining up for each play.

 

Defensive Player of the Game: Bashaud Breeland

Corner Bashaud Breeland had a day Sunday at Lambeau Field. With a fantastic read in the second quarter, Breeland was able to take advantage of a poor throw by Falcon’s quarterback Matt Ryan and took it back to the house for six.

Breeland has only played in four games for the Packers this season and he has an interception in two of them, via Zach Jacobson.

Late in the game, the Falcons were on about the Green Bay 15-yard line when they fumbled the snap and Breeland was there to recover it and pretty much solidify the Packers’ win.  

 

Up next, the Packers head to Chicago for a big NFC North matchup with the Bears. Kickoff is set for 1 PM EST.

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (86) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Draft position draft position!

Better sign/extend Breeland for next year!

4zone's picture

I think we still have pick #11, and mathematically still in the playoff hunt.

Rak47's picture

It would be asking a lot but the Packers need to win out and have the Queens lose two of their last 4. If Panthers lose next week to the Rams that'll give them 8 losses and if the Eagles lose to the Saints they also will have 8 losses. I don't expect the Skins to beat anyone with Mark Sanchez as their QB. If the Packers win out and the Saints and Rams win next week they just need 2 teams to take care of the Queens and they're in. Will be rooting for Seattle 2morrow.

Old School's picture

That's the path
Do we want the Vikings to lose two of their last three? Yes.

Is it possible that the Panthers lose to the Rams and the Eagles lose to the Saints? Yes and Yes.

Also, even if the Bears win the division, it'd still be really sweet to sweep the season series. Not as nice as knocking them off in the NFC Championship game, but definitely better than our 4th quarter comeback against them.

Old School's picture

I agree on the 11th, but if we beat Chicago, I may have to revise. All along I've thought somewhere right around 10 with 5 wins.

What the author calls "efficient" I'd describe as "not doing so many things that hurt ourselves". For about the first time all season, special teams didn't hurt us as we recovered both fumbles. But we didn't miss field goals, we didn't give up big returns, we didn't turn it over, we didn't take a costly penalty...……

On offense, I saw a little more of the Deep I formation and we still seem to have run the pistol most often. We scored 3 TDs and were able to use the running game to burn some clock in the second half with a lead. I think that's about the first time this season, too.

Personally, I'd line up in the double TE package and run the frickin' ball. Use Jones and Williams and make people stop them.

Defensively, Alexander really battles. If we could ever get King and Alexander on the field for a stretch of games our pass defense would be pretty good, IMO. Tramon hates to tackle but he can still cover. Brice is out there battling with a painful injury, just like Clark. I like guys like that who will battle on a cold December with nothing really on the line except their pride.

And of course Breeland's Pick Six. That and the special teams play was really the biggest difference from the other games, IMO.

HankScorpio's picture

Aaron Jones got 20 touches. I think that is about the target for him. The distribution by half was a little out of whack but the overall was right about where they want to be.

Also went right: 7-13 on 3rd down. That's not great but a step in the right direction. In part because Rodgers was better on 3rd. This year, he's had better statistical games where he actually played worse than today. 27 points on offense while coasting through the 4th was nice to see.

dobber's picture

They've got to get players back on the OL or #12 will be begging to sit by halftime next week. Atlanta's weak pass rush was still getting to ARod too often.

Some good stuff...throwbacks, quick hitters. But the main difference was that they were playing a team that was scuffling about as much as they were.

I can't remember who was saying that the Packers blew it by taking Alexander and not drafting Ridley in round 1. How many times did they call his name today? That #23 for the Packers can ball, and did a nice job against the Packer-killer Julio Jones. So much for the notion that he's nothing but a slot corner.

1-0 this week. On to the Bears.

splitpea1's picture

Totally agree, but it was nice to see a decisive win anyway. This offense is still challenged by the receivers' inability to get open faster, so the speed and/or play design has to be improved.

One thing: Alexander is too valuable on defense to be fielding punts. How many years did it take us for find a good corner who can stay on the field?

Old School's picture

I agree that Alexander shouldn't be fielding punts. In fact, I'll do you one better than that: If we fair caught EVERY punt, we wouldn't get anybody injured on a punt return or take a blocking in the back penalty. Maybe we could pressure a bad kick once in a while. But just never return.

MOST returns in the NFL don't amount to much yardage. Every now and then, you see a return but I don't think the occasional return is worth the fumbles, the injuries, and the penalties. Just fair catch the punt and put your offense on the field.

Oppy's picture

I believe it was RoyaltyFreeGM, but I'm not 100% on that

CJ Bauckham's picture

It was. He's disappeared the last few weeks.

Jersey Al's picture

he's disappeared by design...

HankScorpio's picture

They played a team that was scuffling just as bad last week and did not look nearly as good. If anything, the caliber of opponent was higher this week than last. So that's not the main difference from my point of view.

I don't know that this game was about anything more than playing with the weight of MM's fate lifted from their shoulders. Every coach and player had to be feeling that. There is no gorilla in the room to ignore. That has to be a liberating feeling for them. We'll see if it lasts beyond this week.

Whatever way it goes, I'm going to enjoy this win. They have been rare enough this year.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Tough call: is Atlanta or Arizona worse at present? Atlanta is riding that five-game losing streak. Hmmm, I'd say Atlanta is worse.

HankScorpio's picture

The Packers are the only thing standing in Arizona's way to matching that 5 game losing steak. They play next week in Atlanta so I reckon we'll find out.

dobber's picture

Mmmm....steak!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The network should flex the Atlanta/Arizona game to a prime time slot!

Coldworld's picture

Arizona has no offense and a decent defense. Atlanta can’t currently find its offense and has a pretty dire defense. At this point, the Cards are less bad.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Philbins just lucky he didn't face the Bears in his first game. Atlanta is a patsy team. They are on par with Buffalo. If Philbin beats Da Bears I'll definitely be impressed.

dobber's picture

Much like the Packers, Atlanta has the pieces on offense to scare many teams. Whether it's OL play, Steve Sarkisian calling plays, or just plain being out of sync and bad, they look a lot like the Packers have looked in recent weeks.

I still can't figure out why they took Coleman out (was he hurt?) and played the plodder Ito Smith. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't getting the chunk yardage that Coleman was getting. Shades of Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams.

Rak47's picture

I agree Hank. Jones 20 touches were right in his wheelhouse. After watching the entire way it unfolded I wonder if Philbin wanted to keep Jones around 20 touches but wanted the majority to happen in the second half and maybe that's why he started Williams.

ScaryGary's picture

the bears still suck!

Thebearsstillsuck's picture

They sure do

Lare's picture

Was nice to see the Packers come out of the game with a win and stay pretty healthy. Also nice to see the OL replacements perform pretty well. Might make some of the previous starters expendable.

flackcatcher's picture

You do know that there are no more replacements in the O line. They have sign every one from the PS to the regular roster that was ready to go. One guy recall from PS and that's it. Like dobber, I shudder if they can't some of these O linemen healthy enough to play next week against you know who.

Old School's picture

Since Gutekunst became the GM, he hasn't really done very much to improve the O-line. He got Bell as a bargain FA. He drafted a guy in the 4th round who hasn't even shown up yet .

Other than that, not much. These guys like Murphy and Spriggs and Patrick.....we have to improve that bunch. The starters are mostly decent but there's nobody behind them.

You usually have 8 or 9 on the 53 with one inactive on gameday. One or two more on practice squad. Gute hasn't really strengthened our Top 10 offensive linemen at all.

Packers0808's picture

Wat Rodgers played better today, bet he now could say "Mission Accomplished, Got McCarthy fired"!

ScaryGary's picture

to early?

wildbill's picture

Seems Spriggs and Light played decent, maybe Spriggs is getting better

ScaryGary's picture

alexsander got burned on that second touchdow, but i don't think julio gets open on him after this year. i wouldn't trade him for derwin james and the 25th pick next year

JohnnyLogan's picture

I would trade Alexander and a first for Derwin James. James is sensational, a game changing safety. Likely ROY and an All Pro in the making. Alexander is good with great potential. I think James is a far better player over their careers. Hope I'm wrong.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Time to extend Kenny Clark, Breeland, and Aaron Jones.

One of you was calling to sign Eric Ebron last off-season, and wasn't happy with the $ given to slow Jimmy.
Ebron caught his 12th TD of the season today. Showing the talent that had the Lions drafting him ahead of OBJ & Aaron Donald.

Of course, we never have picks in that range.

HankScorpio's picture

I don't know if the CBA allows them to extend Clark or Jones yet. But both are definitely core players I hope stay around for a good long time.

Breland had a really good game today but unless he signs for cheap, I'd rather see him back that up a few more times this year. Someone pointed out that he signed for $24 mil over 3 yrs this past spring before his foot injury voided the contract. Based on what I saw today, he's worth that. Based on the totality of 2018, he's not.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Clark can be extended after the season. I don't think we should, but that's just me. $2.98M in 2019 and probably $8M on a fifth-year option in 2020. I fail to see the benefit of extending him unless you think he's going to rival Donald or Watt. He's already in $12M AAV range.

Can't extend Jones yet. I'd like to see more of Breeland but mostly he seems a question of asking price.

Old School's picture

We should keep Clark. This is a guy who comes back out of the locker room after being knocked out of a game on a cold December day when you're playing for nothing but pride. He's not nursing a hammy or some such stuff.

Breeland, if everybody is healthy, is either the nickel guy or the first backup corner. Alexander and King are ahead of him and he's competing with Jackson. Guys who can play CB in this league are really important, but he's only been available for 4 games this year.

Try to keep him. You can never have too many guys who can cover.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I was the guy screaming to sign Eric Ebron. It pains me to see what he's doing. He should be in Green Bay damnit!!

dobber's picture

Prior to this season, he could barely get on the field and stay on the field in Detroit, though. Having seen many Lions games <<involuntary shudder>>, he was not good. His drop rate can't have been as bad as it seemed...which seemed really, really bad.

Cubbygold's picture

All depends on what Breeland wants for a contract, but King is unreliable and has to be considered as a backup next year, or paired with a high quality reliable backup

HankScorpio's picture

Breeland is in the same boat as King based on their time in Green Bay.

Old School's picture

Exactly. And if King is healthy enough to suit up, he's a starting CB. But you can never have too many guys who can cover. He's under contract for next year yet and we'll just have to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Old School's picture

Exactly. And if King is healthy enough to suit up, he's a starting CB. But you can never have too many guys who can cover. He's under contract for next year yet and we'll just have to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Old School's picture

Exactly. And if King is healthy enough to suit up, he's a starting CB. But you can never have too many guys who can cover. He's under contract for next year yet and we'll just have to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

This just in:
The Bears still suck!
Oh, and the Viqueens have yet to win a Super Bowl. Oh-fer-ever.

Johnblood27's picture

Talk about trolling for up-votes!

Cookies taste good!

Rainy picnic days suck!

Kittens and Puppies are cute!

nostradanus's picture

Excellent Win!

Now lets go to Chicago and spoil their day.

Two wins against Da Bears would be nice!

Go Pack!

carlos's picture

There was tremendous energy in the building. Nice to see for a change.

carlos's picture

Penalties down also. Turnovers on the positive side. Good overall effort. Things to build on with what’s left of the rest of the short season. Keep the momentum going.

carlos's picture

TE position needs an upgrade unfortunately. Been a major disappointment sorry to say.

Gort's picture

I want to give that 2 Likes!

Nick Perry's picture

LOL...Jared Cook is a FA again. That $5 million a year 2 year deal he signed in Oakland sure in the hell seems reasonable to me. Cook had his 3rd 100 yard game this season today.

Thanks Ted!!!!

HankScorpio's picture

Is a baseball bat or a lead pipe the proper instrument for beating a dead horse?

dobber's picture

Garden hose.

Coldworld's picture

Play a player with two fully functioning hands. It is pretty obvious that the splint thing isn’t working.

Mojo's picture

"Beating a dead horse" has been outlawed by PETA. It's now "feeding a fed horse"

Nick Perry's picture

Sorry Hank....I'll be tooting that horn for possibly another year or two. I mean Gute has been GM less than a year and what your seeing now IS Thompson's work.

Besides for all the sickening "In Ted We Trust" comments I heard right up through the 2017 draft, Ted will NEVER be called out enough IMO.

HankScorpio's picture

"Besides for all the sickening "In Ted We Trust" comments I heard right up through the 2017 draft, Ted will NEVER be called out enough IMO."

Fair point. :)

PatrickGB's picture

Beating a dead horse is counterproductive and messy. Foresight is always better, and I have never ever been able to change the past no matter how often I have tried.
We have new folks making decisions now, let’s hope they have learned something from the last crews screwups.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I was nice to see the Packers take a shot on 2nd and short. 13 years of High Success and McCarthy never learned that obvious tactic.

Nick Perry's picture

As much as I'd like the highest draft pick possible, winning a game sure does feel good!

Really hope Breeland is signed this offseason and he stays in GB. With King only able to play in about 8 games a year (Sarcasm) I'd like to see Breeland stay.

First drive was a beautiful thing. As mentioned Rodgers took what was given and seemed to run the play called. That 2nd drive I'll have to admit I went "Oh S###" because it sure looked like what we'd seen all season.

The 2nd half the offense looked good and the defense played well until they had the big lead and let them move the ball but use clock.

Can the Packers go even one game without getting royally screwed by the Refs?? How they review that ball to Jones on the first drive and STILL let it stand is beyond me. That crew needs to be FIRED after this season.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Those Refs truely sucked.

Coldworld's picture

Yes. Maybe not the highlight reel calls of early in the season, but just left a feeling of being overmatched by the task throughout.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I like Breeland as well but in comparison to King, how many actual games has Breeland played this year?

Nick Perry's picture

Breeland had the thing with the foot and missed EVERYTHING. King was coming off IR and went to OTA's, Mini Camps, and TC.

That's a big difference in being able to get ready for a season. Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit but I'd imagine we could sign him for less that the 3 year $24 million deal he got from Carolina last Spring.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Breeland had an infection. He's not injury prone iirc.

HankScorpio's picture

He was signed shortly before week 4. He's played 4 of 10 since then. He's started 3 of 10. A significant portion of those games missed was due to 2 separate injuries. In his 4 previous years, he missed 5 games and 7 starts.

i wouldn't say he's been injury prone over the course of his career. But this year has not been good for availability.

dobber's picture

DATA!!!

Cubbygold's picture

Especially considering the overhaul at saftey thats coming this offseason. Would be nice to have some consistency

4thand1's picture

This the most frustrating season. They lost so many games with poor execution and play in second halves is what sucks. Last week was definetly the tipping point. I didn't care if they lost today, but it was nice to see a win finally.

PAPackerbacker's picture

It was nice to see Rodgers spreading the passes around to other receivers and converting on 3rd downs. Although not a great 3rd down conversion rate, it is an improvement from the previous games played this season. Rodgers is still getting sacked to many times. And I still don't understand why Aaron Jones doesn't get the ball more, especially in the first half. What does this man have to do to prove he deserves to be the featured RB for the Packers? A well deserved win, but still a lot of work to do. For sure this was a step in the right direction. Go! Pack! Go!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Falcons have the worst pass rush in the NFL. If they roll that line out there against the Bears Rodgers is in severe risk of getting hurt again.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Yes Rodgers would be at a high risk of getting injured against an aggressive defense like the Bears. He is getting sacked way to often,

Lphill's picture

Julio Jones is a Packer killer.

Packer Fan's picture

OK, finally a win. Team played well for three quarters. Offense scoring points, few special team gaffes, defense shutting down Atlanta and causing turnovers and not causing a lot of penalties. The offense and special teams fell apart in the fourth quarter due to penalties and a bad punt. Fortunately the game was out of reach.

Yes, BG should sign Breeland to a new contract this season. Alexander, Breeland and King would be great next year. Then Williams can focus on safety. Then BG can focus on OL, pass rushers and TE on the draft and free agency. Jackson and his weekly penalties are troublesome. Sure looks like Brown will be able to stick around longer in this league. Fast, learned not to commit penalties and not getting hurt.

dobber's picture

"Alexander, Breeland and King would be great next year. Then Williams can focus on safety."

Add Jackson, Brown--who I thought showed well today, and a rookie--and they'd be all set. Six-deep seems to be necessary in today's NFL.

MarkinMadison's picture

1) Randall Cobb was back, looking healthy, and being productive for the first time in more than a month. You need a second veteran in the WR corps. The rookies might be o.k. next year, but they are not there yet.

2) The defense made some impactful plays for the first time in a long time.

3) Atlanta's piss poor defense was the right match up for a banged up Packers O-line.

--> I'm not going overboard on this one. The win feels good. Maybe they can build on it, but this is NOT 2010.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Although they did get a win, there is still much work to do to be a championship caliber team. So I'm with you about not going overboard on this one.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Cobb looked like Cobb post-2015. On the 24-yard TD, he really didn't get any separation. Anyway, Cobb finished with 5 Recs on 6 Targets for an 8.6 yard average per catch. 8.6 is bad for a slot.

Cobb is going to have a tough time breaking $6M AAV as a FA.

Rak47's picture

2010 didn't look anything like a Championship season til it just happened. The offense just caught fire and they won it all. As bad as the Packs luck has been this year an 180degree swing in luck could carry them to the SB. Anything is possible on any given Sunday.

Rak47's picture

2010 didn't look anything like a Championship season til it just happened. The offense just caught fire and they won it all. As bad as the Packs luck has been this year an 180degree swing in luck could carry them to the SB. Anything is possible on any given Sunday.

NitschkeFan's picture

Atlanta stunk. Nice to see an easy win for the Pack even though I prefer picking higher in the draft and avoiding career altering injuries to 5 or 6 key players (for me the future is much more important than these last few games).

AR was great on the 1st drive (6/7 62 yds) but very mediocre the rest of the game.

15/25 for 134 yds and 1 TD

5.36 yds per attempt. That sucks in today's NFL. Despite an injury depleted Falcons secondary #12 was a fairly average NFL QB today.

On the other side of the ledger, we won, or O-Line was playing 2nd and 3rd stringers. Rodgers legs look fine and his mobility is an asset again.

Watching them win was fun. But I don't think should draw too many long term conclusions from this game.

I'd still like to see 2 new OL, 2 new Edge rushers and 2 new Safeties picked up via draft/agency in the off-season. If 4 or those 6 can be above average starters in 2019 we will be well on our way.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Excellent comments Nitschke Fan. Hope you are doing well down in Florida.

Kb999's picture

Hallelujah!!!

Donster's picture

Happy to see the team didn't fold. They played for pride and for their jobs against the Falcons. Philbin did a good job calling plays considering he hasn't done it since he was a coach in college supposedly.

I still hope they don't give him the Head Coaching job. I'm afraid if they win two of the last three games they will.

The Refs sucked.

Rodgers was lucky he didn't get picked twice. But has the record anyway.

Was amazed how bad Atlanta looked. If it weren't for Julio Jones...

Unfortunately, it is the Bears up next. That defense looked awesome against the Rams. They will be wanting to blow the Pack off the field to get even for the Rodgers led comeback win earlier in the season.

The Packers patchwork offensive line will not hold up against the Bears.

Trubisky could rush for 100 yds this weekend.

So next weekend we probably won't be very happy. This team is what it is. But they kept fighting, and hopefully will continue the rest of the season.

dobber's picture

Unless teams give the Bears defense points, the Bears offense isn't very consistent: 21st overall (aggregate stats) but they get the benefit of good field position from that defense. People want to talk about how creative Nagy is and how good that offense is...but it's really not all that great. They didn't look very good last night against the Rams (whose defense is statistically very similar to the Packers...except that they force turnovers).

If the Packers take care of the football, they should be in this one this week against the Bears. It might end up 16-9, but they should stay in it.

Donster's picture

Hope you are right dobber!

mcduff67's picture

Ohh Yah, the toilet has flushed. Great to see the bond between Philbin & A-Rod renewed! It worked well for one game, the proof lies in the next 3- GO PACK!!

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"The Bears still suck!"
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."