2017 January : Packers Insider

Rodgers-to-Cook joins list of legendary clutch NFL playoff catches

January 15, 2017 by  
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By David Steele, The Sporting News

~Aaron Rodgers was already in the all-time NFL quarterback pantheon. Now he has a throw on the list of the all-time greatest, biggest, most clutch and most unforgettable. He’s in some select company — he earned his place Sunday night in Arlington.

So where does that throw to Jared Cook rank? With three seconds left, on third-and-20, rolling to his left, running out of room, and hitting Cook with even less room, toenails dragging the sideline, for 36 yards? The one that saved the Packers season and killed the Cowboys and freaked out even Rodgers’ gushiest admirers?

MORE: Packers-Cowboys, as it happened

Too bad it wasn’t in the Super Bowl, or with the Super Bowl on the line. But when it’s win-or-go-home, making plays like that one means the same thing. So yes, for setting up Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal in the Packers’ 34-31 defeat of the Cowboys, it belongs on the list — even if the Packers don’t survive next week’s NFC championship game in Atlanta.

It will still join the ranks of The Catch, by Dwight Clark from Joe Montana in the 1981 NFC title game. And the Helmet Catch, by David Tyree from Eli Manning in Super Bowl 42. And the one Manning threaded to Mario Manningham along the sidelines, similar to Rodgers and Cook, four years later in Super Bowl 46.

January 15th, 2017 Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
[object Object] Green Bay Packers 7 14 7 6 34
[object Object] Dallas Cowboys 3 10 0 18 31

For toe-tapping excellence, it’s up there with Santonio Holmes from Ben Roethlisberger to give the Steelers the win in Super Bowl 43. For game-savers in the same round that the Packers pulled it off, there was the Steve Smith 69-yarder from Jake Delhomme in the second overtime in the 2003 playoffs to launch the Panthers toward Super Bowl 38, and Terrell Owens’ game-winner from Steve Young in the 1998 playoffs for the 49ers against Brett Favre’s Packers.

Clearly, it takes Hall of Fame talent on at least one end of a play like this. The Packers had that. Rodgers has spread this sort of magic around multiple times before, as recently as a year ago, in the same round, when his Hail Mary sent their playoff game against the Cardinals into overtime. They lost that one.

MORE: Deja vu in Arlington for Packers, Rodgers

Not this time, though — because, Rodgers said, this is what they do now, dial up miracles when they need it, and treat it as if they’re not miracles.

“We have a good repertoire for the end of games, whether it’s the well-publicized Hail Marys or the other plays we’ve hit over the years, to kind of draw from,’’ he said afterward. “And we kind of picked that one out, and we executed it well at the most important part of the game.’’

Of course, immediately after the game, he also told Fox, “It’s just kind of schoolyard at times late in the game like that.”

How schoolyard? Here’s how Pack receiver Randall Cobb described it:

Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers just told each receiver what to do, like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously.

Rodgers acknowledged said it was just well-rehearsed schoolyard. It included blocking schemes that kept him upright and gave Cook enough time to get downfield.

And, of course, Rodgers throwing it where only Cook could catch it, and Cook getting hands and feet aligned to catch it and make it count. Rodgers kept making sure Cook got credit over and over for making the catch.

MORE: Chinstrap optional for Rodgers

Others made sure Rodgers got credit for being who he’s been for a long time.

“Someone said he’s been hot for the last seven or eight weeks; he’s been hot since 2008,’’ Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said with an admiring grimace.

Garrett was criticized in many corners for the spike he called on the Cowboys’ game-tying field goal drive, which among other things, led to Rodgers needing just a field goal to win, and having just enough time to get them into range.

Realistically, in the situation the Cowboys were in, there wasn’t much they could do to keep Rodgers off the field.

When Rodgers was sacked on a safety blitz two plays before the big one — miraculously holding onto the ball — and needed to call a Packers timeout, they almost didn’t end up with enough time.

But there was time for one throw and one catch to propel Rodgers and Cook into the rarefied air of Montana and Clark … and the rest of that elite company.

Original story here

Cook also scored this big touchdown earlier in the game.


Packers hold off Cowboys’ comeback, reach NFC title game

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Chris Wesseling, NFL.com

~Mason Crosby drilled a pair of field goals over 50 yards in the final 98 seconds, leading the Green Bay Packers to a thrilling 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Here’s what we learned in Sunday’s game:

1. Including Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal and Crosby’s “iced” attempt a split-second before the Cowboys called timeout on the game-winner, we saw four successful kicks over 50 yards with the game on the line in an instant classic. Although Bailey’s boot tied the game at 31, it left 35 seconds and a pair of timeouts for Aaron Rodgers to work his wizardry. Rodgers somehow managed to avoid fumbling on a blindside sack by safety Jeff Heath, leading to a third-and-20 desperation play on Green Bay’s 32-yard line. Rodgers escaped the pocket, threw a dime across his body off of one foot into a window the size of the Grinch’s heart for a spectacular 35-yard toe-dragging sideline catch by Jared Cook. Crosby snuck a 51-yard field goal inside the left upright, just moments after sending a knuckleball through the right corner pocket from 56 yards out. He will never buy his own beer in Green Bay for the rest of his life.

2. No Jordy Nelson, no problem. Before Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli dialed up a series of blitzes to confuse Green Bay in the second half, Rodgers had led the Packers to 66 points in the first 74 minutes since Nelson’s Wild Card-round exit last week. Prior to the opening whistle, FOX analyst Troy Aikman declared that Rodgers is playing quarterback at the highest level it has ever been played. Rodgers spent the next 60 minutes of game time proving Aikman right. The man who turned the Hail Mary into a routine play deployed every other weapon in his arsenal on Sunday, extending plays, throwing receivers open, pump faking to dupe defensive backs, picking up first downs with his legs and tricking Dallas’ defense into untimely penalties. Rodgers’ 34-yard touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers was his 14th on a “free play” due to defensive offsides since 2012. No other quarterback has more than three such scores over that span. A master craftsman possessing the position’s most gifted and varied toolbox, Rodgers has advanced the art of quarterbacking over the past two months.

3. The new version of the “triplets” brought the Cowboys back into the game just as the Packers were threatening to run away and hide with a 28-13 lead late in the third quarter. While social media was clamoring for a Tony Romo appearance, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott hit 13 of 17 throws for 142 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in his final three possessions. Directing a textbook one-minute drill, he picked up 42 yards in six plays to give Bailey an opportunity for the game-tying field goal.

Fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott churned out 125 yards on 22 carries, highlighted by a phenomenal spin move on Clay Matthews to set up Dez Bryant’s seven-yard touchdown that ultimately tied the contest at 28 with five minutes remaining.

4. Speaking of Bryant, he joined Hall of Famer Michael Irvin as the only Cowboys receivers with at least 130 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in a postseason game. Bryant enjoyed not just his best game of the year but also one of the finest performances by a wide receiver all season. After hauling in back-to-back passes of 21 yards and a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter, he forced a red-zone pass interference penalty on LaDarius Gunter and beat the Packers cornerback again for the game-tying seven-yard score in the final stanza.

5. The Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line draws all of the hype, but the Packers’ front five deserve credit for the stellar pass protection that allows Rodgers to hold onto the ball and routinely use his improvisational skills en route to chunk plays. Green Bay’s offensive line survived a scare when blindside tackle David Bakhtiari went down with a knee injury in the second quarter. The second-team All Pro returned for the second half after missing one series.

6. Bakhtiari wasn’t the lone Green Bay starter to get nicked up. Safety Morgan Burnett was ruled out after sustaining a quadriceps injury. Wideout Davante Adams twisted his ankle late in the game, but returned for the final field-goal drive. Those two injuries will be worth monitoring for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. In one of the most entertaining games of the regular season, those two teams battled to a 33-32 Falcons victory back in Week 8.

7. While Gunter was handled by Bryant, fellow defensive back Micah Hyde and rookie defensive tackle Kenny Clark came through with their best efforts of the season for Green Bay’s defense. The steadily improving Clark was a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage, in one case single-handedly thwarting an Elliott screen play. After a first-quarter sack, Hyde’s film study paid dividends when he jumped a bubble screen to Bryant for a third-quarter interception.

8. Heath snapped Rodgers’ career-long streak of 318 consecutive pass attempts without an an interception — the second-longest streak of the 21st century. Heath would have played the hero with a clutch red-zone interception just after the two-minute warning had rookie cornerback Anthony Brown not bailed Rodgers out with a pass interference penalty in coverage of Ty Montgomery. Heath had one more chance to earn the game ball via the aforementioned blindside hit on Rodgers with 23 seconds remaining, but the quarterback’s giant hands put a vice grip on the ball. Heath played an inordinately important role in the final labyrinthine moments of a football opera.

Thriller: Crosby Kicks Packers into NFC Championship Game in Atlanta

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

The Captain Kicks the Packers season into Atlanta

The Captain Kicks the Packers season into Atlanta

~Did your defibrillator have batteries in it?

After too many years of the Packers being eliminated in January playoff heartbreaks, especially overtime, it appeared that there might be another painful exit Sunday night in Dallas.

But Mason Crosby to the rescue, with a big assist to Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook.

Rodgers and the offense were on fire for the whole first half, a complete reversal from the first half of the Giants game last week.

In fact, it took a blatant hold by Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne on Davante Adams to stop the Packers finally. True, that’s supposed to be holding but not according to today’s officials, who let that guy grab Adams’ shoulder all night long.

The Packers almost blew another big lead in a playoff game on the road, this time an 18-point lead. But Rodgers did what he so often does: lead the Packers to a victory in the final minutes. Where you at Skippy Bayless?

On third-and-20, the Packers got 36 yards thanks to a great throw and brilliant catch by unrestricted free agent addition tight end Jared Cook on the sideline.

That set up a 51-yard field goal for Mason Crosby for the win, which he drilled after being iced by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett just as he kicked it through a first time.

Before Crosby’s game-winner, the Cowboys and Packers traded field goals.

With 1:38 to play, Crosby drilled a clutch 56-yarder to give the Packers a three-point lead, and possible win.

But with the Packers defense, you suspected it wouldn’t be the game-winner.

Rookie QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys answered with drive and a field goal of their own — another clutch long one, a 52-yarder by Dan Bailey to tie the game with 44 seconds left.

That left Rodgers too much time, although it wasn’t as easy as you might suspect.

This Instant Classic might not erase the scars Packer Nation still has from two years ago in Seattle, when a Super Bowl berth slipped through Brandon Bostick’s hands.

But this is a new chapter, and the script is still being written. The next masterpiece takes place next Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. Stay tuned to see what Rodgers has to author.

5 things to watch in Cowboys-Packers game

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By Drew Davison, Star-Telegram


Youngster Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson started their careers with consecutive wins over Rodgers and the Packers. Is Dak next?

Youngsters Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson started their careers with consecutive wins over Rodgers and the Packers, both regular season and playoffs. Is Dak next?

Prescott’s poise

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been praised for his poise from Day One, and rightfully so. The fourth-round pick hasn’t let any moment or any stage get too big for him. The playoffs are different, though, and all eyes will be on Prescott and how he handles this moment. If the past is any indicator, he should check off this box like the rest.

Zeke attack

The Cowboys are a run-first team and rookie Ezekiel Elliott lived up to the hype by leading the league in rushing. He had a breakout game (28-157 yards) against the Packers, and will be relied on heavily again in what the Cowboys hope will be a lengthy playoff run.

The Packers have no choice but to sell-out to try and stop Elliott. If they don't, he'll eclipse the 157 yards he had in October against them in Lambeau Field. But by doing so, it will give the Cowboys receivers many opportunities to beat the Packers soft cornerbacks for big plays deep.

The Packers have no choice but to sell-out to try and stop Elliott. If they don’t, he’ll eclipse the 157 yards he had in October against them in Lambeau Field. But by doing so, it will give the Cowboys receivers many opportunities to beat the Packers soft cornerbacks for big plays deep.

Green Bay feels its defense has improved, but the telling sign will be if it can contain Dallas’ rushing attack.

Pressuring Rodgers

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is known for his innate ability to avoid pressure and extend plays. The Cowboys have struggled to rattle Rodgers in recent meetings, but feel better about their chances with a fully healthy defensive line.

Bulaga and company have to pay attention to #95 Sunday afternoon. As they (Rodgers) found out in October, Irving can disrupt and ruin a game.

Bulaga and company have to pay attention to #95 Sunday afternoon. As they (Rodgers) found out in October, Irving can disrupt and ruin a game.

End David Irving forced three fumbles in the previous meeting in October, and could be a difference-maker once again.


It’s no secret that takeaways go a long way in deciding game winners. Rodgers has protected the ball well, not being intercepted during the Packers’ current seven-game winning streak. Prescott and Elliott have protected the ball well, too. The defense that is able to force takeaways will put its team in a favorable spot to advance to the NFC Championship.


Are the Cowboys better off with the rest they’ve earned leading into the playoffs? Or are the Packers better by continuing the momentum they’ve been riding on the seven-game winning streak? These are age-old questions teams face every postseason. These teams are distinctly different in how they enter this game. We’ll find out if the Cowboys are rested or rusty, and whether the Packers are riding momentum or running out of gas.

Original article here 

Who has the edge between the Cowboys and Packers?

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By Drew Davison, Star-Telegram


Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has exceeded expectations by every measure, tying the NFL record for most wins by a rookie QB (13) and posting a 104.9 passer rating. But a rookie quarterback has never taken a team to the Super Bowl in NFL history, although Prescott has answered every other challenge to date.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers is among the best postseason quarterbacks in history. He’s already won a Super Bowl and ranks fourth in postseason history for passer rating (minimum 150 attempts) with 100.3. Rodgers appeared to be in peak form last week vs. the New York Giants, throwing for 362 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Edge: Green Bay

Running backs

Ezekiel Elliott and Ty Montgomery Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: Rookie Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards and scored 15 rushing touchdowns. He had a breakout game against the Packers earlier in the season, gaining 157 yards on 28 carries. Elliott is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball and has proven worthy of the fourth overall pick. He’s also got plenty of “playoff” experience from his days at Ohio State, playing in a New Year’s Six bowl each of his three years.

Packers: Eddie Lacy is on injured reserve with an ankle injury, leaving the Packers to rely on Christine Michael and Ty Montgomery to carry the rushing load. Michael, who spent time with the Cowboys last season, joined the Packers in November and hasn’t topped the 50-yard mark in seven games. Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, had an impressive rushing performance against the Chicago Bears last month but isn’t relied on too heavily.

Edge: Dallas

Wide receiver/tight end

Cole Beasley and Davante Adams Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: Cole Beasley posted career-bests in receptions (75) and receiving yards (833) while leading the team in receiving. Jason Witten continues to be a security blanket as the tight end. But Dez Bryant is still the biggest outside threat for the Cowboys and is healthy going into the postseason. Also don’t forget Terrance Williams, who had three touchdown receptions in the 2014 playoffs.

Packers: The Packers will be without injured wideout Jordy Nelson (ribs). Nelson, the Packers’ best receiving threat after leading the team with 1,257 receiving yards and leading the NFL with 14 TDs, was not cleared by team doctors. Davante Adams had a strong season with 12 touchdowns and falling just 3 yards short of the 1,000-yard mark. Randall Cobb is arguably the hottest receiver going right now after catching three TDs, including a Hail Mary, in the wild-card victory over the Giants.

Edge: Push

Offensive line

Cowboys: This is widely considered the best offensive line in the league with three All-Pro players in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. The O-line sets the physical identity the Cowboys want to impose each week and is arguably the team’s deepest unit going into the playoffs.

Packers: Green Bay doesn’t have the names on its O-line like Dallas, but it’s still a steady group. The Packers have given Aaron Rodgers plenty of time in the pocket to extend plays, part of the reason they’ve been able to win seven consecutive games. The line is led by tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, and gave up only one sack to the Cowboys in the Oct. 16 meeting.

Edge: Dallas

Head-to-head stats

Stat Cowboys Packers
Points per game 26.3 (5th) 27.0 (4th)
Total offense 376.7 (5th) 368.8 (8th)
Passing offense 226.9 (23rd) 262.4 (7th)
Rushing offense 149.8 (2nd) 106.3 (20th)
Off. 3rd down conv.% 42.3 (10th) 46.7 (2nd)
Points allowed/game 19.1 (5th) 24.2 (21st)
Total defense 343.9 (14th) 363.9 (22nd)
Passing defense 260.4 (26th) 269.2 (31st)
Rushing defense 83.5 (1st) 94.7 (8th)
Def. 3rd down conv.% 39.1 (15th) 41.2 (24th)
Turnover margin +5 (9th) +8 (6th)

Defensive line

David Irving and Julius Peppers Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: The Cowboys had 36 sacks on the season, although the pass rush disappeared at times during the season. The rush defense ranked as the best in the league, although several teams were playing from behind. Still, the D-line has flashed potential. Benson Mayowa led the team with six sacks, Tyrone Crawford had 4.5 and David Irving had a team-high 26 QB pressures.

Packers: Green Bay has a Hall of Famer on its D-line in Julius Peppers, who had 7.5 sacks in the regular season and one in the wild-card round. Peppers forced a fumble when these teams played in 2014. As a unit the Packers have fared well, compiling 40 sacks, tied for sixth-most in the league, and ranking eighth in run defense (94.7 yards).

Edge: Green Bay


Sean Lee and Clay Matthews Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: Sean Lee earned All-Pro honors after a terrific season in which the coaches credited him with a team-leading 174 tackles. Anthony Hitchens had 104 tackles this season. Justin Durant has battled through injuries, but has shown to be a difference-maker when he’s on the field. This linebacker corps has done a solid job stopping the run and defending the pass.

Packers: Linebacker Nick Perry led the team with 11 sacks, but is dealing with a left hand injury. Clay Matthews has also dealt with injuries, but had five sacks in 12 games. Second-year pro Jake Ryan has played well of late, recording 12 tackles and three passes defensed in the wild-card game against the Giants. Additionally, the Packers have one of the more well-respected most respected defensive coordinators in the game, Dom Capers.

Edge: Push


Cowboys: Dallas has given up more than 260 passing yards a game and had nine interceptions on the season. Safety Barry Church led them with two picks. But the secondary has held its own for the most part. Brandon Carr has been a reliable corner, Morris Claiborne should return and sixth-round pick Anthony Brown has been another rookie surprise. Orlando Scandrick could have the unenviable task of containing Green Bay slot receiver Randall Cobb, but Scandrick is among the best when healthy.

Packers: Green Bay finished the regular season with the 31st-ranked pass defense. They have been hit hard by injuries, losing arguably their best DB, Sam Shields, to a concussion early in the season. Fellow cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall have battled injuries, too. But the Packers fared all right against the Giants in the wild-card round, holding Eli Manning to fewer than 300 passing yards and intercepting him once.

Edge: Dallas

Special teams

Cowboys: Kicker Dan Bailey is among the best in the NFL and has never missed in 250 point-after attempts. He was 27-of-32 on field goals this season with a long of 56. But Bailey went just one of three on field goals attempts in the 2014 postseason. Punter Chris Jones has done well, averaging 45.9 yards. Returner Lucky Whitehead, meanwhile, has never scored a touchdown on a return in his career. Similarly, the coverage units didn’t give up a return touchdown this season.

Packers: Kicker Mason Crosby has been reliable, particularly in the postseason where he has converted 24-of-26 field goal attempts and all 54 extra-point attempts. Punter Jake Schum averaged 43.2 yards a kick. Micah Hyde has served as the punt returner. Jeff Janis is the primary kickoff returner and averaged 25.7 yards on three returns in the wild-card game. The Packers did give up a kickoff return for a touchdown earlier this season, allowing Indianapolis’ Jordan Todman to go 99 yards.

Edge: Push


Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy Star-Telegram; AP

Cowboys: Coach Jason Garrett has two playoff games under his belt, going 1-1. He made questionable clock management decisions near the end of the first half in the 2014 divisional round against Green Bay, but has been praised for his aggressiveness this season. Coordinators Scott Linehan (offense) and Rod Marinelli (defense) are regarded among the best in the league.

Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year and ninth in the past 10 seasons. He has gone 9-7 in the playoffs, highlighted by a Super Bowl run in 2010. In that season, he guided the sixth-seeded Packers to three road wins en route to the Super Bowl at AT&T Stadium. McCarthy is the play-caller on offense, although he made a questionable decision to go for it on fourth down in his own territory at his own 42-yard line in the wild-card game last Sunday. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is respected around the league, but his injury-plagued unit ranked 22nd in the league this season.

Edge: Green Bay


Cowboys: The Cowboys have the home-field edge and playing at AT&T Stadium finally has the makings of being is becoming a true advantage for them. They have won seven consecutive games there and have drawn an average of 92,539 spectators this season, most in the league by a mile. certainly should benefit with the comforts of being home away from the field. Plus, clinching the top-seed early and earning a bye week has allowed the Cowboys to rest and rehabilitate. They’ve been able to field a full, healthy roster in practices leading up to this game.

Packers: Green Bay won three consecutive road games in its Super Bowl season in 2010, and have momentum going into this game. The Packers have won seven in a row and have plenty of postseason experience to draw upon. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been a Super Bowl MVP while linebacker Clay Matthews has played in 13 postseason games, recording with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles. But the Packers have lost their best offensive weapon target, injured receiver Jordy Nelson, in the wild-card round.

Edge: Dallas

Insider: Thumbs up to Davante Adams

January 8, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Tommy Silverstein



Lucky No. 7 turned out to be as strange as a victory can be, but given it was a wild-card playoff game and the loser is done for the year, the Green Bay Packers were more than happy to endure the bumpy ride inside Lambeau Field. First, the Packers couldn’t do anything on offense, then they were unstoppable. First, the special teams couldn’t get the right number of guys on the field for a punt return, then they produced 27 yards per kickoff return and 10.0 per punt return. First, the defense let Eli Manning dink and dunk them for a couple of field goal drives, then they held him to 10 of 23 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown with one interception in the second half. Along the way, the offense lost receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) and Ty Montgomery (ankle) to injury (although Montgomery did return). Despite it all, the Packers, by virtue of their 38-13 victory, live to play another week. It’s on to Dallas to face the NFC’s No. 1 seed Sunday at 3:40 p.m., and go for their eighth in a row.


Those who are familiar with the Packers-Giants playoff rivalry couldn’t help but see how this game was going to turn out when receiver Randall Cobb caught quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 42-yard Hail Mary heave with no time left on the clock. After all, it was the same end zone that Hakeem Nicks hauled in Manning’s 37-yard Hail Mary at the end of the half in the Giants’ 37-20 divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field on Jan. 15, 2012. The Packers had used up all their timeouts before the series started with 1:38 to go and so after tight end Jared Cook couldn’t hang onto a pass on third and 2 at the Giants 42, coach Mike McCarthy called a Hail Mary with six seconds left. The ball sailed high and to everyone’s amazement dropped into Cobb’s hands in the back of the end zone. “I guess everyone (misjudged it) but me,” Cobb said. The touchdown gave the Packers a 14-6 lead going into the second half and all the momentum.


Cobb and Rodgers were the statistical stars of the game, but the guy who really got the Packers’ offense going in the first half was receiver Davante Adams. The Packers punted five straight times, but with 3:45 left and the Packer at the Giants 38, Adams read that the Giants were going to shift coverage from two-deep to one-high and gave cornerback Eli Apple an ankle-breaking move off the line of scrimmage that allowed him to run free down the right sideline. Rodgers hit him for a 31-yard gain. A play later, Rodgers scrambled for eight seconds and then fired a rocket that Adams snared with two hands for a 5-yard touchdown. Adams, who led the Packers with eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, stepped in for an injured Nelson and gave the offense the spark it badly needed.


OK, the Packers wound up winning by 25 points, but what in the world was McCarthy thinking when he went for it on fourth and 1 at the Packers’ 42 with 6:08 left in the third quarter and the Giants down just eight points? His punter was having a fine game and the defense was playing well enough given the poor field position the Giants had been getting. The Giants had just stuffed you on third and 1. Punt the ball. McCarthy calls an inside zone play and Montgomery gets stuffed for minus-1. One play later, Manning hit Tavarres King for a 41-yard touchdown over cornerback Damarious Randall, and the Giants were within one point with just over 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Had the Packers lost, McCarthy would have been burned at the stake. Luckily for him, his offense can make up for such blunders and bailed him out. “As a play caller, as a head coach, you’re sick to yourself,” McCarthy said.


RAVE: It wasn’t until late in the week that Cobb thought he would have a chance to play against the Giants. Having missed the previous two weeks with an ankle sprain, he still wasn’t 100 percent and was concerned McCarthy would not let him suit up Sunday. But McCarthy called his number and eased him into the game. Then, when Nelson got hurt, Cobb started playing more. He finished with five catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns, including the 42-yarder on the Hail Mary. His other two touchdowns were on similar routes in which Rodgers waited for him to clear coverage and hit him on the run. It was as timely a performance as the Packers could get.

RAVE: Punter Jake Schum beat his competition, Brad Wing, by 8.4 yards per punt net and forced the Giants to start inside their 12-yard line three times in the first half. He was a major reason the Giants managed just six points at a time when the Packers’ offense couldn’t move the ball. Schum averaged 41.8 yards gross and 41.2 net and landed three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line. Along with great coverage from Jeff Janis, Schum was a big part of why the Giants only scored 13 points.

RAVE: Week after week, the Packers face outstanding pass rushers and time after time, their offensive line is up for the challenge. Rodgers got sacked five times, but probably four of those were his fault for holding the ball too long. Giants star defensive end Olivier Vernon was held to one tackle, no sacks and no quarterback hits. On Adams’ 5-yard touchdown, the line held off the Giants for more than 8 seconds. The rushing numbers weren’t great, but this game was about giving Rodgers time to do his thing. That’s what the line did.

RANT: The Packers have to get more out of linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. If they’re going to have any chance against the Cowboys, those two are going to have to play their best games of the season. Against the Giants, Matthews had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, but his rush was not consistent enough. Perry had one quarterback hit and no other stats. If it weren’t for Julius Peppers, the Packers wouldn’t have had any rush at all. They’ll be facing the best offensive line in the league next week and can’t afford to not show up.


» Because cornerback Quinten Rollins (neck/concussion) was out, rookie cornerbacks Josh Hawkins and Herb Waters were both active. Neither played from scrimmage but contributed on special teams.

» In the last meeting with the Giants, the corners stayed on their respective sides, but this week coordinator Dom Capers put LaDarius Gunter on wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. wherever he went. Beckham had four catches for 28 yards.

» Perhaps worried about how Matthews and Peppers would handle their injuries in the cold, outside linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Datone Jones played a significant amount of snaps.

» Fullback Aaron Ripkowski (shoulder) was added to the injury report Saturday and wasn’t used nearly as much as he had been against Detroit. Ripkowski was used sparingly until late in the game when Montgomery injured his ankle.

» Linebacker Joe Thomas and Peppers stood around after Matthews stripped the ball from Manning because they thought it was an incomplete pass. Only Matthews went after the ball, running more than 10 yards from where he had forced the fumble to recover it.

Original story

Packers top Giants, 38-13, in wild-card round

January 8, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Mike Spofford at Packers.com

~QB Aaron Rodgers throws four TD passes, three to WR Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb celebrates another Packers Hail Mary to end the first half. The touchdown gave the Packers an improbable 14-6 halftime lead, despite being outplayed badly for 29 minutes.

Randall Cobb celebrates another Packers Hail Mary to end the first half. The touchdown gave the Packers an improbable 14-6 halftime lead, despite being outplayed badly for 29 minutes.

GREEN BAY – The offensive struggles of the first half disappeared for the Packers in the second half, and they ran away with a 38-13 victory over the Giants in an NFC Wild Card playoff game on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

QB Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, three of them to WR Randall Cobb, as the Packers put up 38 points for the third consecutive home game and won their seventh straight game overall. Green Bay earned a trip to No. 1 seed Dallas next Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CT in the divisional round.

The only bad news for the Packers was WR Jordy Nelson left the game in the first half with a rib injury and did not return. There was no further update before the end of the game.

Rodgers became the first QB in team history to throw four TD passes in multiple playoff games, and Cobb tied Sterling Sharpe’s franchise playoff record with the three TD receptions.

Rodgers finished 25-of-40 for 362 yards with the four TDs and no interceptions for a 125.2 passer rating. Cobb had five receptions for 116 yards with the three scores.

WR Davante Adams had eight catches for 125 yards and a TD, while RB Christine Michael chipped in 10 carries for 47 yards on the ground. RB Ty Montgomery added 68 yards from scrimmage (27 rushing, 41 receiving).

For the Giants, QB Eli Manning finished 23-of-44 for 299 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 72.1 passer rating.

The Packers held WR Odell Beckham Jr. to just four catches for 28 yards on 11 targeted passes. WR Tavarres King had three catches for 73 yards, including a 41-yard TD.

The Packers held Giants RBs Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings to just 59 yards on the ground on 15 attempts.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter recap of the action.

Fourth quarter:

Green Bay’s defense started the fourth quarter with a stop, catching a break when Beckham couldn’t quite haul in a third-and-11 pass when he was open on a corner route. The ball was just barely overthrown. The Packers were called for a block-in-the-back penalty on the punt return, though, wiping out good field position and making the offense start from its own 20.

After a 10-yard pass to Adams, Rodgers hit RB Ty Montgomery for 34 yards over the middle on th-10. On the next play, Montgomery was injured on a running play, getting bent back awkwardly on the tackle and having to be helped off the field.

On third-and-9 from the New York 35, Rodgers found Adams over the middle for 12 yards against a blitz to move the chains. On the ensuing third down, needing 3 yards from the 16, Rodgers found Cobb deep over the middle for the score, Cobb’s third TD of the game. K Mason Crosby’s PAT put the Packers up, 31-13, with 9:19 to go.

On the second play of the Giants’ next drive, LB Clay Matthews hit Manning from behind, knocking the ball out. Nobody on the field was playing it as a live ball except for Matthews, who hit RB Paul Perkins as Perkins tried to casually pick up the ball. That kept the ball loose, and Matthews recovered for Green Bay at the 45-yard line.

The Packers got into scoring range again on an 8-yard pass to WR Geronimo Allison and an 18-yard completion to Adams on third-and-1. Michael then ran three times for 19 yards to the New York 9, and Montgomery returned to the game.

A 6-yard pass to FB Aaron Ripkowski made it first-and-goal on the 3. Montgomery plowed ahead to the 1, and Ripkowski finished the drive with the TD with 2:43 to go.

On the Giants’ final drive, CB Damarious Randall intercepted Manning in the end zone and ran it back 78 yards before the Packers kneeled out the win.

Third quarter:

A back-and-forth third quarter ended with the Packers taking a 24-13 lead over the Giants into the fourth quarter in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card playoff at Lambeau Field.

The Packers started the second half with a three-and-out on offense. QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked again as he scrambled out of bounds and did not make it back to the line of scrimmage, New York’s fifth sack of the game.

The Giants got going on a 14-yard run by RB Paul Perkins, and back-to-back passes to WR Odell Beckham Jr. gained a total of 15 more. The Packers stopped it there, though, as LB Julius Peppers got pressure on third down to force an errant throw, and the Giants punted.

Starting from their own 10, the Packers started running the ball with RB Christine Michael, who carried four straight times for 27 yards. A 5-yard pass to FB Aaron Ripkowski set up third-and-1 at the Green Bay 42, but Ripkowski was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Packers decided to go for it on fourth down, and RB Ty Montgomery was stuffed as well, giving the Giants the ball in Green Bay territory.

Two plays later, QB Eli Manning went deep to WR Tavarres King for a 41-yard touchdown, and with K Robbie Gould’s PAT, the Giants had closed to 14-13 with 5:16 left in the third.

The Packers came back with a 13-yard pass to TE Jared Cook to get to midfield. A 20-yard catch-and-run on a slant to WR Davante Adams moved the ball to the New York 30. On the next snap, Rodgers found WR Randall Cobb open over the middle, and he split the defense for a 30-yard score. K Mason Crosby’s PAT re-established Green Bay’s eight-point lead at 21-13 with 2:53 left in the quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, RB Bobby Rainey made the mistake of trying to field Crosby’s kickoff near the sideline. He couldn’t keep his balance and stepped out of bounds on the New York 3.

Green Bay’s defense got a three-and-out, as Peppers deflected Manning’s third-down pass from the 10, and S Morgan Burnett nearly intercepted off the deflection. DB Micah Hyde returned the 50-yard punt 23 yards to the New York 37, giving the offense great field position.

Rodgers immediately went to work, hitting WR Davante Adams for 23 yards over the middle to the New York 14. The Giants stopped it there, though, as CB Coty Sensabaugh blanketed Cobb in the back of the end zone on third down, and Crosby was good from 32 yards out for a 24-13 lead with 21 seconds left.

Second quarter:

A sluggish offensive first half ended with two TD drives – the second on a Hail Mary on the final play – and the Packers took a 14-6 lead over the Giants into halftime on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The second quarter didn’t start any better than the first for Green Bay’s offense, as QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked for the third time in the game, forcing another punt.

After a 15-yard pass to WR Sterling Shepard got the Giants to midfield, the Green Bay defense got the stop. CB Damarious Randall broke up a third-down pass for Shepard, and DB Micah Hyde returned the punt to the Green Bay 22.

The Packers got one first down on a 13-yard pass to WR Randall Cobb, but then WR Jordy Nelson took a hit along the sideline on an incomplete pass and stayed down. A third-down pass for WR Davante Adams was broken up by CB Eli Apple, and the Packers had to punt. P Jake Schum’s 56-yard punt put the Giants back on their own 8.

Nelson was reported in the press box to have a rib injury, return questionable.

The Giants got moving again on an 11-yard run by RB Rashad Jennings and a 51-yard catch-and-run over the middle by TE Will Tye, who beat LB Blake Martinez in coverage. LB Joe Thomas batted down a pass on third-and-4 from the Green Bay 22, though, and the Giants had to settle for another field goal. K Robbie Gould was good from 40 yards out to make it 6-0 with 7:24 left in the half.

Packers WR Jeff Janis returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to the Green Bay 44 to start the next drive. A 16-yard pass to TE Jared Cook got across midfield, but another mistake squelched the opportunity. QB Aaron Rodgers was called for intentional grounding on third down, and the Packers had to punt again. Janis tackled return man Dwayne Harris at the New York 8.

The Packers’ defense responded with a big three-and-out, as LB Julius Peppers sacked Eli Manning on third down. LB Blake Martinez left the game with an apparent injury, though. Hyde returned the punt to the New York 38 with 3:45 left in the half.

Rodgers got right to work, hitting Adams for 31 yards down the far sideline to make it first-and-goal on the 7. On second down from the 5, Rodgers shifted around to buy time in the pocket and finally fired to Adams for the TD. K Mason Crosby’s PAT put the Packers ahead, 7-6, with 2:20 left in the half.

Green Bay’s defense got a three-and-out, as S Morgan Burnett stopped RB Bobby Rainey on third-and-1 from the New York 41, anad the Packers called their last timeout with 1:46 left to get the ball back one more time. Hyde returned the punt to the Green Bay 20.

RB Ty Montgomery ran twice for 15 yards, and Rodgers hit Cobb for 15 yards to midfield. A screen pass to Montgomery gained 8 to the 42, and Rodgers threw a Hail Mary to the back of the end zone that was caught by Cobb for the TD on the final play of the half.

First quarter:

The Giants scored first and took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter on Sunday in an NFC Wild Card playoff game at Lambeau Field.

The Giants got near scoring range on their first drive, thanks to a 17-yard completion to WR Victor Cruz on third down, but the drive stalled at the Green Bay 35 when WR Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a third-down pass. The Giants decided to punt, and Packers DB Micah Hyde called for a fair catch at the 6.

The Packers went three-and-out, as a deep shot to TE Jared Cook on third-and-2 was slightly underthrown and broken up by S Landon Collins. P Jake Schum’s punt rolled dead at the New York 38.

The Giants got on the board first with a field goal. Passes of 26 and 13 yards to WR Sterling Shepard moved New York into the red zone, but both Beckham and Shepard dropped potential touchdown passes, and the Giants had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by K Robbie Gould for a 3-0 lead with 5:44 left in the first.

The Packers got going on their second drive with a 13-yard pass to WR Jordy Nelson. Giants CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was announced to have a thigh injury, return questionable. Nelson then drew a pass interference penalty deep downfield on CB Janoris Jenkins on third-and-10, putting the ball on the New York 30.

QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked on second down by CB Cody Sensabaugh on a delayed blitz, though, and a long third-down pass to Nelson was underthrown. The Packers had to punt, and the Giants took over on their own 11.

The Packers responded with a three-and-out that began with a false start. RB Rashad Jennings tried to run up the middle on third-and-11 but came up 1 yard short of the first down, and Giants P Brad Wing’s punt went out of bounds on the Green Bay 45.

Rodgers was sacked again on the final play of the quarter.

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Packers must contain Beckham to beat Giants

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~Back in week 5, the Packers did a nice job against a recently-frustrated Odell Beckham, and didn’t let him go off.

He had been shut down prior to that, and had been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, and had been fighting with field goal nets on the sidelines.

Beckham is a guy who is capable of doing, well, what the Packers allowed Adam Thielen to do in week 16, the last game at Lambeau Field.

Back in October, the Packers defense did a nice job against Eli Manning. Manning managed just 199 passing yards, and Beckham (five catches, 56 yards) was the lone Giants wideout with more than one reception as the Giants tumbled for the third straight game. They fell to 2-3 after that loss, the lone team in the NFC East with a losing record at that point.

They have turned it around, obviously, in securing the NFC’s number five seed. Included in that turn-around were wins over Dallas.



But Beckham is the guy who can change the scoreboard fast, and in the wrong direction of you’re a Packer fan.

“He’s a talented player,” Giants QB Eli Manning said per Tom Silverstein of PackersNews.com. “He works extremely hard. You know he wants to go out there and make plays. I’ve seen that a lot of times with playmaker and guys who have put in a lot of effort, a lot of work and want to feel like they’re getting rewarded on game day and getting catches and being part of the offense, and hey, I’m with him.”

Beckham will be going up against a Packers defense that allowed over 300 passing yards per game this year and made many mediocre wide receivers and quarterbacks look like All-Pro’s.

Beckham points to thank God after a catch earlier this season at Lambeau Field.

Beckham points to thank God after a catch earlier this season at Lambeau Field.

“I mean just by watching film Beckham is a great, great receiver,” Packers CB Damarious Randall said. “I don’t pay attention to all the off-the-field issues that’s going on with him. That ain’t got nothing to do with me. I’m just watching his film, and Beckham looks like a great, great receiver.”

Randall, of course, is nursing injuries of many varieties, as is practically every cornerback on the Packers’ roster.

“I like him as a salty, competitive player,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said at an earlier press conference at the Giants’ facility. “That’s when he plays at his best. We just need to be productive when we’re doing it.”

There are a lot of players on the Giants who can hurt this soft Packers’ defense, especially via the pass. Cruz and Shepard are both dangerous wide receivers, especially with practice squad corners covering them, or with safeties covering them, playing out of position.

The Packers hope that Beckham ends up fighting with nets, teammates, and himself, and doesn’t hit the Packers with any knockout punches.

Green Bay Packers lost by winning the NFC North

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Fox Sports Chris Chase

~The urgency, importance and necessity of Sunday night’s NFC North title game was greatly diminished about 60 minutes before kickoff when the Washington Redskins lost to the New York Giants. That defeat meant that both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions would qualify for the playoffs no matter what happened on Sunday Night Football. But there was, of course, the matter of the division championship and the home playoff game that comes with it and Green Bay came out the winner. Or did they?

With the 31-24 victory over Detroit, Green Bay earned the No. 4 seed (the lowest for a division champion) and a home date with the top wild-card team, the New York Giants. By virtue of their loss, Detroit snuck into the playoffs as the second wild-card team, just ahead of the Redskins. As a No. 6 seed, the Lions will travel to the home of the third-seeded Seattle Seahawks for their wild-card game next weekend.

In theory, there’s no debate here. Of course you want the division title and a home game. This isn’t the NHL we’re talking about. The Packers get a game at Lambeau Field, the greatest stadium in the NFL, where the weather and the fans provide such a great home-field advantage that the team went 65 years without a postseason loss on the frozen tundra. The Lions, meanwhile, have to go halfway across the country to play in the stadium that’s provided the best home-field advantage in the NFL in recent years.

(Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

If only it were so simple.

Green Bay hosts the Giants, who went 11-5 in the best division in football and have allowed 10 points or fewer in three of their past four games. Two of those three performances came vs. playoff teams and the other was Sunday against the Washington team that should have been. With that defense, an explosive Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning, who loves nothing more than slowly plodding through playoff road games en route to a surprise Super Bowl, is that a team you want to see? Green Bay knows the answer, as two of the five postseason Giants’ road wins since 2007 came at Lambeau in 2007 and 2011, the years Manning won his two Super Bowls. Prior to 2007, Green Bay had lost two playoff games ever at home (and ever goes back to 1939). In a five-year stretch, Eli Manning and the Giants doubled that.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks barely beat a 49ers team that was playing in the midst of a palace coup. Yes, they were 7-1 at home and a less-than-mediocre 3-4-1 on the road, proving the importance of CenturyLink Field, but six of those seven wins were against Miami, San Francisco, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Carolina and Los Angeles, no murderer’s row. The seventh win wasn’t really a win at all – it was their annual home-game gift from the officials, when Richard Sherman mugged Julio Jones and wasn’t called for a pass interference penaltythat would have set up a game-winning field goal by Atlanta. If we give that one to the Falcons, then Seattle was 6-2 at home with one win over a playoff team – and we use that term as loosely as possible – with its two-point victory in Week 1 over the Dolphins, a team that started 1-4 before winning nine of 10 to clinch a wild-card berth. This is hardly the Seahawks we’ve come to know over the past five years.

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Sure, that stadium in Seattle is the equivalent of a tin coffin outfitted in speakers borrowed from the set of a Fast and the Furious movie. It’s loud. It’s obnoxious. Just hearing Seattleites talk about the 12th man is enough to sap your will to even play the sport. That doesn’t even mention that the ‘Hawks have won their last nine postseason games at home and are 9-1 at the stadium in its history, making for just as good a home-field advantage as Lambeau. Still, you can’t help but get the feeling this Seattle team is vulnerable and Green Bay is the team to prove it – the Packers went to overtime in Seattle in the 2014 NFC championship, narrowly losing a game in which the Pack held a 19-7 fourth-quarter lead. The same way the Giants know the Packers can be had at Lambeau, the Packers know the Seahawks can be had at CenturyLink.

Those stadiums aside, home vs. road doesn’t mean much in the opening round of the playoffs. Road teams swept last year’s wild-card games and are 24-24 over the past 12 seasons.

Of course, these team have their eyes on more than just the wild card. With a win, Detroit would be assured of traveling to top-seeded Dallas for the divisional playoffs, not exactly an enviable assignment. But if Green Bay wins its game and the Lions don’t, the Packers would travel to Dallas (and Seattle would play at No. 2 seed Atlanta). It’s about a 50/50 shot Green Bay will have to play at Dallas anyway – not that the Cowboys are the end-all, be-all of the NFC. Winning at the Georgia Dome isn’t exactly an easy task either.

(Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

The only game that matters is the one in front of you, but if you’re the look-ahead type (like all those Redskins fans who spent this week figuring out where they’d travel as that No. 6 seed) the scenario looks like this:

No. 4 Green Bay: vs. Giants, at Cowboys or Falcons

No. 6 Detroit: at Seahawks, at Cowboys

(Getty Iages)
Getty Images/Stacy Revere

I’m taking the “worse” draw every time.

The Packers are on a six-game winning streak and Aaron Rodgers may have just clinched the MVP with a four-touchdown night in Detroit. Who or where they play may be irrelevant. But it’s now the NFL playoffs and nothing will come easy nor will anything be handed to you. The Green Bay Packers were going to have a tough ride to their ultimate destination – Houston on Feb. 5 for Super Bowl LI – no matter what happened on Sunday night. It just so happens that the tougher ride came with the spoils of victory.

So if Green Bay lost by winning, did Detroit win by losing? Eh, not so much. The Lions have lost three straight games and didn’t defeat a single team in the 2016 playoff field. At this point, I’m not sure I’d pick them to win their wild-card game even if they somehow got to host the Browns.

(USA TODAY Sports Images)
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports/Tim Fuller

Aaron Rodgers’ magic carries Packers into playoffs on a run-the-table roll

January 2, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com

~DETROIT — They’re the plays that perhaps only a handful — if even that many — of quarterbacks can make. And Aaron Rodgers makes them time and again.

As usual, the Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs and have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations because of him.

The New York Giants, who await the NFC North champion Packers (10-6) in a wild-card game at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, surely took note of what the two-time NFL MVP did on Sunday night. In the regular-season finale, a 31-24 win over the Detroit Lions, Rodgers made a few more of those how-did-he-do-that plays.


One of them, however, was just a little bit better than the others. A nearly nine-second dance around defenders resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Geronimo Allison with 10:02 left in the game and silenced the Ford Field crowd but for a small collection of Packers fans. Rodgers spun left out of pressure and then stopped to look down the field. Seeing nothing, he again scrambled to his left and stopped once more to fire a rocket of a pass.

It was the kind of play he made consistently during the Packers’ six-game winning streak to close the regular season. In that stretch, Rodgers threw 15 touchdowns — including four on Sunday night — without an interception after he suggested the Packers could “run the table” following their 4-6 start. The one to Allison was his 39th of the season, which ensured he would lead the league for the first time in his career.


“He’s a great player and I think the biggest thing that gets lost in this is great players make other players so much better, make the players better around him,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “So just particularly in the passing game, extending plays versus a rush that was relentless. It obviously factored big time, particularly on the touchdown to Geronimo. That’s about as fine of a play extension that, obviously it’s not his best one ever, but it’s up there. Great throw and Geronimo did a great job working that back line.”

To cap it off, he threw touchdown pass No. 4 of the night and No. 40 on the season — a 9-yard fade to Davante Adams — with 2:50 to play.

Rodgers handled the pressure — two of his touchdown passes came when pressured, giving him 10 for the season (tied for the second most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information). And his touchdown pass to Allison gave him 13 from outside the pocket this season. That tied Jameis Winston for most in the NFL.

“He got outside, and we just couldn’t get him down there a couple of times,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “With him, when you’re playing with him, it’ll probably be about four or five plays where it’s got to be able to be the difference.”

There were other MVP-type moments.

There was Rodgers ducking under Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah to somehow avoid a sack and step up to convert a third down with an 11-yard pass to Jared Cook. That would lead to Rodgers’ first touchdown pass — a 7-yarder to a surprise contributor, fullback Aaron Ripkowski (who also posted a career-best 61 yards rushing).

There was a Rodgers dart to Adams for a 3-yard touchdown to regain the lead on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Rodgers also looked completely over the calf injury that hobbled him in December. He rushed for three first downs — including a 13-yard designed keeper to convert a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter — giving him a team-leading 25 rushing first downs on the season.

“He bumped it up to a new level,” Adams said of his quarterback. “That’s what we expect from him because that’s the type of guy he is, a future Hall of Fame-type game. We knew it was just a matter of time before we really kicked it into another gear, and he got everyone else on that same hype, and we started winning some games.”

Injuries at cornerback — Quinten Rollins’ apparent neck injury and Damarious Randall’s knee — could put the Packers’ already shaky secondary in a precarious position. And if the Packers don’t get takeaways, their defense struggles to get off the field.

But as long as Rodgers plays the way he did against the Lions, the Packers have a chance.

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