GREEN BAY, Wis. — — A quick begin helped the Green Bay Packers overcome a shaky second-half efficiency and stay on tempo to earn the highest seed within the NFC playoffs.
Aaron Jones rushed for 145 yards and a landing because the NFC North champions reached the top zone on their first three sequence earlier than hanging on to beat the Carolina Panthers 24-16 on Saturday evening.
Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-low 143 yards however produced a landing move — his fortieth of the season — and a landing run for the Packers. Rodgers is the primary participant in NFL historical past to throw no less than 40 landing passes in three separate seasons; he had 45 throughout his 2011 MVP marketing campaign and 40 in 2016.
Inexperienced Bay (11-3) gained its fourth straight regardless of getting outscored 13-3 and outgained 214-49 within the second half. Rodgers referred to as the second half “positively a stinker for the offense.”
“We simply know that sort of soccer within the second half is just not going to get it accomplished within the playoffs, the place we’re going,” Rodgers mentioned.
Inexperienced Bay took a half-game lead over New Orleans (10-3) within the race for the NFC’s finest file. The Packers personal a tiebreaker over the Saints after profitable 37-30 at New Orleans on Sept. 27.
Below the NFL’s new 14-team playoff format this 12 months, solely the No. 1 seed in every convention earns a first-round bye.
“It is very vital,” Jones mentioned. “We would like all the pieces to run by means of Lambeau. We all know we management what occurs.”
The Packers constructed a 21-3 halftime lead earlier than withstanding a comeback try from a gritty Carolina group enjoying with out injured 2019 All-Professional working again Christian McCaffrey and left sort out Russell Okung.
Carolina had an opportunity to drive time beyond regulation when it bought the ball at its 20-yard line with 55 seconds and no timeouts remaining. However the Panthers solely bought to the 26 earlier than shedding the ball on downs.
The Panthers (4-10) have misplaced eight of their final 9 video games.
Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater was 21 of 35 for 258 yards with a landing run, however he additionally had a vital fumble. D.J. Moore caught six passes for 131 yards, and Joey Slye kicked three area targets.
Rodgers capped Inexperienced Bay’s first sequence with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Robert Tonyan, who has scored in 5 consecutive video games. After Carolina reduce the result in 7-3 on Slye’s 36-yard area aim, Inexperienced Bay reached the top zone once more as Rodgers ran it in on third-and-goal from the 6.
Trailing 14-3 within the second quarter, Carolina had first-and-goal on the 1 when Bridgewater tried leaping over the road and Inexperienced Bay’s Krys Barnes knocked the ball free. Kevin King recovered the fumble and raced 48 yards earlier than Moore introduced him down.
“That was the play of the sport, little question about it,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur mentioned.
Jones capped the Packers’ ensuing drive by high-stepping untouched for an 8-yard touchdown across the left finish.
“I believe the largest factor we mentioned to our guys is we weren’t enjoying soccer at first,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule mentioned. “Like they had been throwing the ball out on the perimeter and catching screens, they usually’re working the ball downhill and working the ball by means of us, we’re not tackling. After which I believe our pleasure type of kicked in. We performed higher after that.”
Carolina scored the primary 10 factors of the second half on Bridgewater’s 13-yard scramble and Slye’s 22-yard area aim. That made it 21-13 with 8:39 left. The Panthers settled for the sector aim after John Miller‘s holding penalty nullified a landing.
Mason Crosby gave the Packers some respiration room with a 51-yard area aim with 3:39 left, however the Panthers would not go away. After Bridgewater threw a 40-yard completion to Moore, the Panthers despatched their field-goal unit on for Slye’s 33-yarder, which reduce the result in 24-16 with 2:04 left.
ADAMS’ STREAK SNAPPED
Inexperienced Bay’s Davante Adams had seven catches for 42 yards and did not attain the top zone, ending his streak of eight video games with a landing reception.
Solely two gamers within the Tremendous Bowl period have put collectively longer such streaks inside the identical season. Jerry Rice caught a landing move in 12 straight video games in 1987. A.J. Green did it in 9 straight in 2012.
Panthers cornerback Troy Pleasure injured his groin late within the first quarter. Defensive finish Brian Burns mentioned he tweaked his knee late within the sport, however must be effective.
Packers working again Jamaal Williams left with a quadriceps damage within the first half. Barnes left within the third quarter with a watch damage. Outdoors linebackers Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith had been shaken up late within the fourth quarter. Security Will Redmond was evaluated for a concussion.
Carolina is at Washington on Dec. 27.
Inexperienced Bay hosts Tennessee in one other evening sport on Dec. 27.