GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have relied more on character and resilience than offense or defense this season, lagging well behind past editions in aesthetics.
This divisional round win over Seattle, though, was a vintage Rodgers performance. He helped the Packers pull within a game of the Super Bowl with an array of clutch completions at the most critical of moments.
Rodgers connected with Davante Adams eight times for 160 yards and two touchdowns, Green Bay’s spruced-up defense fended off a spirited Seahawks rally, and the Packers held on for a 28-23 victory Sunday night to reach the NFC championship game for the third time in six years.
“It’s one of those feelings that starts to creep up in warmups, when you really feel like you’re locked in,” Rodgers said, “and I was glad it translated to the field.”
Aaron Jones rushed for 62 yards and two first-half scores for the Packers (14-3), who will travel next weekend to take on top-seeded San Francisco. Rodgers, who went 16 for 27 for 243 yards in his 17th career postseason start, Rodgers has 38 touchdown passes in the playoffs. That’s good for fifth in league history.
“He’s definitely hungry for another Super Bowl. He deserves it, so we’re doing everything in our power to put him in that position,” said Adams, who set Green Bay’s postseason record for receiving yards.
Russell Wilson carried the Seahawks (12-6) on yet another comeback, this time from a 21-3 halftime deficit, but the Packers forced a punt shortly before the two-minute warning on the second sack of the game by Preston Smith. That was Green Bay’s fifth of the game.
“Five minutes left, we’re getting the ball back, the thing’s going to be over. We’re going to win it,” Wilson said. “I think everybody in the stadium, and I think everybody watching felt like that, too.”
The Seahawks never got the ball again.
Rodgers sealed the win with two third-down throws: a 32-yard strike to Adams on third-and-8 with 2:19 left and then for 9 yards to Jimmy Graham on third-and-9 right after the two-minute warning to take down a Seahawks team that was 8-1 on the road this season entering the game.
“I’m just going to enjoy a nice glass of scotch tonight,” Rodgers said, “and get on to the film of San Fran and get ready for a tough opponent.”
Rodgers exacted some payback for five years ago, when the Packers blew a 16-0 halftime lead in the NFC championship game at Seattle and were beaten 28-22 in overtime. The Seahawks lost their next game to New England when Wilson was infamously intercepted late at the goal line and haven’t been back to the conference title game since then.
Rodgers is running out of time faster than Wilson, though, nine years after his only championship. Though many of Green Bay’s performances haven’t been pretty, with so many hold-on-at-the-end wins, Rodgers and Matt LaFleur have sure meshed well in the coach’s rookie season.
“Let’s be honest, I don’t know that even our fans felt supremely confident in us,” Rodgers said.
The Seahawks had just a plus-seven scoring margin during the regular season, making quite the habit of second-half rallies. Wilson did some of the finest work of his eight-year career in 2019, helping the Seahawks stay on track despite a steady stream of injuries, including the late setbacks in the backfield that prompted the emergency call for Marshawn Lynch.
Racking up 64 yards rushing on seven scrambles and completing 21 of 31 passes for 277 yards, Wilson directed touchdown drives of 69, 84, 79 right out of the gate after halftime. Lynch finished two of them with scores, and Wilson threw on the run to Tyler Lockett, who had 136 yards on nine receptions, for the other one.
“Every time I looked up, he was making somebody miss in the pocket, creating and extending plays,” LaFleur said. “That’s what he’s done his whole career.”
Lynch’s second touchdown with 9:33 left cut the lead to 28-23, but Jaire Alexander blew up the 2-point conversion attempt with a sack on an unblocked blitz. The Packers gave the ball back to the Seahawks with a second consecutive punt, this time with 4:54 left at the Seattle 22, but Wilson ran out of tricks in his seemingly bottomless bag of them.
“He tested our cardio and heart and endurance today,” Smith said.
Lynch, who has 12 rushing touchdowns in 13 career postseason games to tie for fourth in NFL history, had only 26 yards on 12 carries.
“We made it exciting,” Wilson said. “We just wish we would have left here with a win.”
The Seahawks brought their pass rush to life with seven sacks while grinding out a 17-9 win at Philadelphia last week in the wild card round, with Jadeveon Clowney making his presence felt including a hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of the game with a concussion. The Packers mostly kept Rodgers much better protected, though, and a Seahawks defense that forced 32 turnovers in the first 14 games played a fourth straight time without a takeaway.
The Packers had three touchdown drives of 75 yards apiece over the first three quarters, plus a 60-yard march preceded by a missed 50-yard field goal try from Jason Myers.
Rodgers hasn’t had much help beyond Adams and Jones this season, but he and LaFleur did a masterful job of getting them the ball with some Graham mixed in. On the opening possession, Adams and Geronimo Allison ran angled routes toward each other before faking the pick and zagging away. Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers was caught in the confusion, allowing Adams to break free for the 20-yard score.
OH, NO, LAMBEAU
Seahawks fans have plenty of bad memories of their favorite team’s performances in Green Bay, with the losing streak at Lambeau Field now at nine straight games. The last such win for Seattle was on Nov. 1, 1999.
There was the hot mike that picked up Matt Hasselbeck’s ill-fated boast during the overtime coin toss that the Seahawks would win, preceding his pick-six in the 2003 playoffs. There was the blowout in the snow in the 2007 playoffs, which turned out to be Brett Favre’s final win for the Packers. There were also the regular season losses with Wilson in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Seahawks: LG Mike Iupati was out with a neck injury, and Jamarco Jones left in the second quarter with a concussion. That forced rookie Phil Haynes into action. ... Clowney, who has fought through a core muscle injury this season, was holding his midsection in the second quarter and briefly absent for the first TD run by Jones.
Packers: RT Bryan Bulaga, one of six players the team reported this week as being limited by illness, was active for but did not play. Jared Veldheer replaced him.
Seahawks: head into the offseason, needing replenish their depth on the offensive line and on defense while Wilson remains in his prime.
Packers: advance to their third NFC championship game in six years. They lost 37-8 on Nov. 24 to the 49ers, who beat Minnesota 27-10 on Saturday in their divisional round game. All four of Green Bay’s appearances in the NFC title game with Rodgers at the helm have been on the road. They won at Chicago after the 2010 season to reach his only Super Bowl.
The Packers will face the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Go Pack Go chant. Flurries are coming down inside Lambeau. Packers with the lead. It’s PEAK Green Bay. #SEAvsGB— Baillie Burmaster (@bayburmTV) January 13, 2020
Packers WR Davante Adams put on a show. No. 17 completed eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Adams sets a Packers playoff record with the 160 receiving yards.
LB Za’Darius Smith made a splash in the first quarter. After sacking Seattle QB Russell Wilson, Smith revealed for the camera the word “SNUBBED” on his shirt—a statement in response to his being left off the Pro Bowl squad. Smith sacked Wilson twice in the game.
Preston Smith also sacked Wilson twice.
The Seahawks defense was able to handle RB Aaron Jones. No. 33 picked up 59 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers were up 21-3 at the half, but Russell Wilson got hot in the second half and almost single-handedly provided the offense for his team. Seattle scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives.
The story of the game turned out to be 3rd down conversions. The Packers were 9-for-13 on conversions. Aaron Rodgers, in peak No. 12 clutch form, picked up two huge conversions with minutes to go in the 4th quarter to seal the deal.
How about @TheJimmyGraham!?! 2 MONUMENTAL 3rd down conversion in the 2nd half. That was money— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
Rodgers is celebrating with scotch tonight. Next Sunday, he'll play in his 4th NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is 5:40 p.m.
Highlights, postgame, expert analysis--it's all on Cover 2 at 10:35 p.m.
The Packers go three-and-out and punt.
Packers LB Preston Smith comes up with a sack of Russell Wilson.
The Packers defense continues to struggle to stop Russell Wilson. Seahawks score another touchdown. They go for two--but Jaire Alexander comes up on the blitz for a big sack of Wilson. Packers - 28 Seahawks 23.
Jaire Alexander just murdered Russell Wilson. My goodness.— Baillie Burmaster (@bayburmTV) January 13, 2020
That Alexander sack on the two point conversion was huge, and despite giving up a touchdown it gives Green Bay a little jolt of adrenaline before coming back on offense— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
On 3rd and 9, the Seahawks sack Aaron Rodgers. Packers punt.
Big corner blitz sacks Rodgers. D will have to win it.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
The Seattle Wilsons have scored a TD on 3 straight drives....a 4th here and they take the lead— Chris Roth (@rothchris) January 13, 2020
Packers LB Preston Smith picks up a huge sack of Russell Wilson on 3rd down. Seahawks punt.
The Packers again pick up a big 3rd down conversion when Rodgers hits Adams for 1st down with a little more than two minutes left.
Davante Adams now has a #Packers playoff record for receiving yards with 160.— Matt Hietpas (@MattyHip) January 13, 2020
On 3rd down, Rodgers connects with Jimmy Graham for a big 1st down with 1:48 left. The play is reviewed. The ruling stands. Packers win 28-23.
Seahawks start the half with the ball.
Key numbers in first half... Packers 5 of 7 on third down, Seahawks 1 of 5.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
Sullivan, walking off with the medical staff, stopped to watch if the measurement was short. It was, and then continued to go for treatment. https://t.co/Wr35KoDlpE— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) January 13, 2020
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch runs it in for a touchdown. Packers -21 Seahawks - 10.
Quick play action out to Lockett picks up first down at the one and Lynch has second effort 1 yard TD. Wilson's 22 yard scramble on 3rd and 6 kept drive alive. 21-10.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
The Packers answer back with a touchdown drive. Aaron Rodgers connects with TE Jimmy Graham for 27 yards. Next, he hits Davante Adams for a 40-yard touchdown. It's Adams second TD of the game. Packers - 28 Seahawks - 10.
Rodgers to Adams again, great move again gets Tae free at the 20, cuts right and runs it in clean for 40 yard TD. 7 for 128 and 2 scores for Adams on the night.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
7th TD in last 6+ games for Adams, now with 128 yds, 2nd straight— Chris Roth (@rothchris) January 13, 2020
divisional home playoff game with 100+ yds (did it against DAL in 2014 game) #Packers
The Seahawks answer with a Russell Wilson-led touchdown drive. Packers - 28 Seahawks - 17.
Wilson now the leading rusher in the game with 64 yards— Chris Roth (@rothchris) January 13, 2020
This game is going to require #Packers to keep scoring. Every drive in the 2nd half has ended with a TD. There’s a reason SEA is 11-2 in one-score games. They just keep coming at you. They never give up.— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
The Packers start the quarter with two Rodgers-to-Adams completions.
Adams (11), Adams (18), Adams (15).— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) January 13, 2020
On third-and-goal, Packers RB Aaron Jones pushes in for a one-yard touchdown. Packers - 14 Seahawks - 3.
TD it is, #20 for Jones. 14-3 Pack.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
The Packers have two touchdowns, the Seahawks have two first downs. Green Bay (now in its last six games against Seattle) has trailed for only 26 minutes total. The #Packers play this team well— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
Packers LB Za'Darius "Snubbed" Smith picks up his second sack of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
Seahawks try the 50-yard field goal and miss. Packers will take over at their 40.
#Snubbed @TheRealZSmith is playing like a force, he had 3 sacks at MIN after his Pro Bowl snub, 2 sacks already after his All-Pro snub, and the #Packers have the better kicker as I mentioned this week, the Seahawks come up empty as the Packers maintain a 14-3 lead— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
Packers WR Allen Lazard is questionable to return with an ankle injury.
On third-and-goal, Aaron Jones runs it in for another touchdown. Packers - 21 Seahawks - 3.
Aaron Jones goes in standing up over LG for 21-3 lead with 1:30 left in the half. Red zone rushing success has been big all year.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
Packers DT Kenny Clark sacks Russell Wilson.
Half ends with Packers up 21-3.
The Seahawks win the coin toss and defer. Packers receive.
Veldheer starts at RT as Bulaga battling illness— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 12, 2020
On the opening play, Packers RB Aaron Jones runs for 23-yards. On the next play, Aaron Rodgers connects with Davante Adams for 14-yards.
Rodgers hits former Seahawk Jimmy Graham for 13 yards to convert on 3rd and 8.
good sign on that 3rd and long, Rodgers easy pitch and catch to Graham...that has not always been easy #Packers— Chris Roth (@rothchris) January 12, 2020
On 3rd and 7, Rodgers connects with Adams for a 20-yard touchdown. Packers - 7 Seahawks - 0.
20 Yards to Davante Adams for the touchdown. Offensively, Green Bay rolling early. Packers lead 7-0 #SEAvsGB— Baillie Burmaster (@bayburmTV) January 12, 2020
ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky says the Packers are 3-0 under Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs when scoring an opening-drive touchdown.
The Packers are 3-0 under Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs when scoring an opening-drive touchdown. Rodgers hits Adams for a 20-yard slant-and-up route for a score to start things off. https://t.co/nL45rdHs1P— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) January 12, 2020
Packers coach Matt LaFleur challenges call on the field that Seahawk was down when ball came loose.
Green Bay challenges Hollister catch, upended by Alexander. Ball came out but ruled down. Looked like his hat hit the ground before it came out.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 12, 2020
Matt LaFleur 4 of 8 in challenges during the regular season; big one to start his postseason career #Packers— Chris Roth (@rothchris) January 12, 2020
The play is called a fumble, but Seahawks maintain possession. Ref says there was no clear view of recovery.
Two thoughts:— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) January 13, 2020
1) I could have sworn Chandon Sullivan clearly recovered that fumble for the #Packers.
2) Weird loophole in the challenge system. #Packers were right -- it was a fumble. But they lose a challenge for "no clear recovery." Seems ... unfair. No?
Packers LB Za'Darius Smith sacks Russell Wilson.
Packers respond to adversity from bad call not ruling it a turnover on the field that would have rewarded and given Green bay the ball, three and out stop with a sack and pass defense against Metcalf— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
The Packers go three-and-out. JK Scott hits a 55-yard punt.
Packers get a GREAT punt from JK Scott, 55 yards from his own end zone with NO RETURN. Sea at own 33, that’s greatness from Scott— Dave Schroeder (@SchroederWBAY) January 13, 2020
Packers defense STUFFS the Seahawks and forces a quick three-and-out.
Beast mode stopped on 2nd and 2 and third and one.— Mark Daniels (@markdanielsWNFL) January 13, 2020
Aaron Rodgers connects with Geronimo Allison for 1st down, but it's called back for pass interference on Allen Lazard. Packers fail to convert and are forced to punt.
On the next drive, the Packers hold the Seahawks to a field goal. Packers - 7 Seahawks - 3.
Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and defensive tackle Kenny Clark are both active for the game. Bulaga was listed as 'questionable' on an earlier injury report due to an illness.
* 11 WR Ryan Grant
* 22 RB Dexter Williams
* 29 CB Ka'dar Hollman
* 37 CB Josh Jackson
* 45 FB Danny Vitale
* 79 T John Leglue
* 15 WR John Ursua
* 27 FS Marquise Blair
* 61 G Kyle Fuller
* 70 G Mike Iupati
* 75 T Chad Wheeler
* 94 DE Ziggy Ansah
* 95 DE L.J. Collier