Pack­ers hang on to beat Sea­hawks

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By DAVE CAMPBELL

GREEN BAY, Wis. — 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 sprucedup 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 32yard strike to Adams on thir­dand-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 in the end zone 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-theend 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.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

CEL­E­BRA­TION — The Green Bay Pack­ers’ Aaron Rodgers, right, cel­e­brates with Aaron Jones (33) af­ter a touch­down run dur­ing the first half of an NFL di­vi­sional play­off foot­ball game against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks on Sun­day in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin. The Pack­ers won 28-23.

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