Packers

Packers 32 Rams 18: How It Happened

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The Green Bay Packers are headed back to the NFC Championship game after beating the Rams 32-18 with fans in the stands at Lambeau Field. The Packers will host the winner of Sunday’s NFC divisional matchup.

Let’s break down how the Packers handled business and are now one game from reaching a Super Bowl.

Testing the Waters

The first quarter ended 3-3 after both teams tested the defense and looked to see what was going to be there for them. The Packers forced a Rams punt and then drove down to the Rams 5-yard line before having to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal after two-straight incompletions trying to get in the end zone.

2nd Quarter Magic Continues

The Packers came in leading the league in scoring in the 2nd quarter and that trend continued in this game.  Green Bay scored on it’s next two drives, one on a nifty catch by Davante Adams and another on an Aaron Rodgers’ run to put the Packers up 16-3.

On the point after try on the Rodgers run, punter JK Scott appeared to have some trouble with the snap and tried to shovel pass the ball to kicker Mason Crosby who was tackled hard on the play. Crosby appeared to hurt his arm and at the time, it was unknown how severe the injury was.

Green Bay allowed the first Rams touchdown of the day with just 29 seconds left in the half on a Jared Goff to Van Jefferson pass, cutting the lead to 16-10.

The Packers looked to extend their lead and had no intention of kneeling out the quarter. With under 30 seconds left, Rodgers hit Adams for a 21-yard gain followed by a 33-yarder by Robert Tonyan to get Green Bay to the Rams’ 21 yard line.

Two incompletions later, the Packers settled for a field goal and went into half up 19-10.

Protecting the Yard

Coming out of the half, reports were that Scott was practicing kicking field goals and all were waiting on an update on Crosby. He would return.

The Packers gave themselves some breathing room after getting the ball to start the third quarter after an Aaron Jones 60-yard run followed by a Jones plunge into the end zone to extend the lead to 25-10. The Packers 2-point try attempt once again fell incomplete.

The Rams punted and the Packers had a golden opportunity to blow the game wide open when Rodgers had Marquez Valdes-Scantling open deep and overthrew him. Green Bay would punt.

The Rams found the end zone on the next possession with Cam Akers willed his way into the end zone and the Rams added two on a nifty catch and pitch to cut the deficit to 25-18.

Both teams traded punts again with the Packers getting the ball with 9:46 to go in the game. An A.J. Dillon run on second down ended with Dillon fumbling and the ball but the ball rolled right into Rodgers’ hands, saving a turnover.

And how fortunate that was. A short pass to MVS gave Green Bay a first down. One snap later and with Rodgers signaling a deep route to Allen Lazard, he hit Lazard on a 58-yard pass for a score to put the game away.

The Packers defense wanted one last word and forced a turnover on downs after a huge sack on 4th down by Rashan Gary.

Standouts

Aaron Rodgers leads off this list every week and keeps giving us reasons to be in awe of what he’s doing. His presence and leadership of the offense is the absolute reason why this team is playing for another chance to reach a Super Bowl. He put up nearly 300 yards and led his offense to over 30 points, just the second team to score 30 on the Rams this season.

Now Rodgers gets his wish: An NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field in his 16th season. The likely NFL MVP doesn’t appear to be stoppable at this point and he can smell a prime opportunity as he enters the end of his playing career.

Offensive Line allowed zero sacks and paved the way for 188 yards rushing. They’re a brick wall and they can handle any defensive front out there. That’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

Aaron Jones finished with 99 yards but none bigger than his 60-yard scamper to set up the start of the second half. Jones came up huge in a game where rushing yards would come at a premium.

Jones’ running mate Jamaal Williams added 65 very tough yards to keep the rotation fresh and convert on several key short-yardage situations. Williams’ has been an unsung hero on this offense and has usually come through when his number has been called.

Rashan Gary with a huge sack on 4th down to end the game. Gary has blossomed and decided that the time is now for him to raise up and come through with another key late-game sack.

Kenny Clark added 1.5 sacks on the day, a massive effort for an interior defensive lineman not named Aaron Donald. Teams need their stars to come up big in big games. Check!

Preston Smith with a huge pass knocked down on third and long to set up fourth and long and the eventual Gary sack.

Needs Some Work

What else but Special Teams?

Tavon Austin misjudging Johnny Hecker, one of the best punters in the league and letting a punt sail over his head and inside the 20-yard line. And Austin PLAYED WITH HECKER ON THE RAMS FOR YEARS IN ST. LOUIS AND LA!

JK Scott nearly getting Crosby killed on a poor decision to pitch to the kicker after a bad snap on a PAT try. Fortunately, we didn’t find out just how well (or poorly) Scott can placekick.

And the kick coverage, not to be outdone, allowed a 38-yard kick return.

I’ve said this unit is going to crush our souls at the worst possible time but at this point, maybe this team can overcome the inevitable gaffes each week.  We better hope!

 

The Packers will now prep for either the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week with a chance to reach Super Bowl LV on the line. The early weather forecast for next Sunday is 27 degrees and a chance of snow.

 

 

 

 

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