GREEN BAY – The Packers' playmaking carousel stopped on Robert Tonyan Monday night and the third-year tight end delivered.
The former undrafted free agent responded with a career-high six catches for a team-high 98 yards and three touchdowns, becoming only the third tight end since 1950 to score three times in a single game in Packers franchise history.
Tonyan's breakout catapulted Green Bay to a definitive 30-16 win over the Falcons and an unblemished 4-0 record entering the team's Week 5 bye.
"It wasn't that I felt that I needed to perform, I just had to continue to do what I've been doing," Tonyan said. "Just keep playing well and stick to the game plan. When plays come to me, I need to make them. Aaron had a nice little look in his eye tonight, so I was just trying to roll with that."
Tonyan set the tone early with a 27-yard catch on the second play of the game for Green Bay. With all the extra attention the Falcons spent on Aaron Jones and the backfield, they had few answers for the Packers' 6-foot-5, 237-pound tight end.
With the Packers clinging to a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter, Tonyan brought down a leaping 19-yard touchdown on third-and-14 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left in the half.
Then, following an Atlanta three-and-out, Rodgers found Tonyan in the end zone again with an 8-yard touchdown to put Green Bay ahead 20-3 at halftime.
The real backbreaker for the Falcons came with the Packers facing third-and-3 with 5:24 left in the third quarter. Tonyan initially fell down after getting tied up with Jamal Carter, somersaulted once, and then regained his footing.
The 26-year-old tight end finished his route to the end zone and was wide open when Rodgers rocketed a pass his way for the 21-yard touchdown.
"I've been doing yoga twice a week, so I think the somersault helped," Tonyan deadpanned. "I just got back up on my feet and next thing I know the ball is in the air. It's crazy Aaron held onto it that long for me to get up and throw it to me. But yeah, that was crazy."
Tonyan, who signed to Green Bay's practice squad near the end of the 2017 season, has been on a steady incline. After playing behind Lewis and Jimmy Graham the past two years, Tonyan has stepped into a starting role this year.
In only four games, he's already established new single-season career highs with 13 catches for 173 yards and five touchdowns, which is currently tied for the most in the NFL with Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans.
Tonyan also is the only NFL tight end to catch a touchdown in three consecutive games this year and the first to accomplish that feat for the Packers since Jermichael Finley in 2011-12.
Tonyan's production has been welcomed, especially with the injuries the Packers have been dealing with at his position. Lewis sat out Monday night with a knee injury, snapping a streak of 51 consecutive regular-season games played for the 15-year veteran.
Rookie third-round pick Josiah Deguara returned after missing two games with an ankle injury, but exited late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
"Robert and I have had a good connection since he got here," Rodgers said. "I just appreciate his work ethic, his approach. … I think he's got a really good feel for the passing game. He's done a better job blocking. He's just a solid all-around player, got great hands. Just the timing tonight was really good."
Lambeau Field hosted Monday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 5, 2020.
After the game, Tonyan had congratulatory text messages awaiting him from his mom, Tammy, and good friend George Kittle, whom Tonyan trains with during the offseason.
Tonyan feels he entered this season in a good place mentally and is happy to see the fruits of his offseason labor showing up on the field.
However, what he's most excited about is the Packers' 4-0 start. If he made a few plays to contribute to that, all the better.
"Constantly I'm thinking about making plays all day," Tonyan said. "When I'm at home on the couch just sitting, just thinking about making plays, just playing the games over and over in my head. I think the game has slowed down for me, and it's coming to me a lot easier."