Rodgers will be huge fac­tor for Packers in play­offs

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) >> For years, Aaron Rodgers’ great­ness pow­ered the Green Bay Packers’ suc­cess.

After a two-year hia­tus out of the play­offs, Rodgers again will be a huge key in the post­sea­son.

This time, how­ever, the fo­cus will be on get­ting the Rodgers-led pass­ing at­tack back on track. Strug­gling with long-ball in­ac­cu­racy in the first half, Rodgers com­pleted 27 of 55 passes in a 23-20, come-from-be­hind vic­tory over the Detroit Lions on Sun­day. The vic­tory helped give the Packers a first-round bye. As the No. 2 seed, they’ll host a divi­sional-round game on Jan. 12.

While Rodgers got go­ing in the sec­ond half, he was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally off the mark for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week. In games that he started and wasn’t knocked out be­cause of in­jury, Rodgers en­tered the sea­son with only six ca­reer games with a com­ple­tion per­cent­age of less than 50 per­cent. He’s failed to com­plete half his passes in back-to-back games.

“We’ve just been off on a lot of plays, whether it’s a guy drop­ping a ball or maybe the ball is just a tad off,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Mon­day. “He can’t do it him­self. The play around him has got to be bet­ter. The guys that have op­por­tu­ni­ties, they’ve got to make plays.”

The calm­ness with which we op­er­ate in those sit­u­a­tions, I think, al­lows us to re­ally fo­cus and per­son­ally al­lows me to get in my zone as far as what plays I want to get to.” su­perb ef­fort against the Lions. In 75 snaps, he car­ried 25 times for 100 yards and caught two passes for 43 yards. With the Packers need­ing to move into field-goal range on the fi­nal drive, he found day­light on a screen pass, broke two tack­les and gained 31 yards to set up the win­ning kick. Jones fin­ished the sea­son with 1,084 rush­ing yards, 1,558 scrim­mage yards and 19 to­tal touch­downs — just one touch­down shy of the fran­chise record set by Ah­man Green in 2003.

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