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The Green Bay Packers stamped their ticket to the NFC Championship Game with a 28-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. The Seahawks' slow start hurt their comeback effort as Seattle punted just once in the second half while putting up 23 points -- but it just wasn't enough to upend Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
Both Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers were outstanding. Wilson once again led his team in passing and rushing, as he passed for 277 yards and a touchdown and rushed seven times for 64 yards. He spent the majority of the second half scrambling and making his own big moments off of broken plays, which ultimately got the Seahawks back in the game. Rodgers was consistent throughout, and passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
Davante Adams was arguably the MVP for the Packers on Sunday night, as he caught eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Green Bay's defense was great as well, and Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith recorded two sacks apiece.
The Packers are in the NFC title game and there's a lot to go over. Will Brinson and the Pick Six Superfriends broke down both of Sunday's divisional round games in the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
This Packers team has been inconsistent all season and we saw glimpses of that in the second half -- but the bottom line is that first-year head coach Matt LaFleur is now just one game away from the Super Bowl.
Why the Packers won
Green Bay looked like the better team throughout Sunday night even though things got a bit hairy in the second half. The Packers won this game because their stars shined brighter than anyone on the Seahawks. Rodgers didn't miss many throws, Aaron Jones rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns, Adams caught eight passes for 160 yards and two scores and the "Smith Brothers" made life tough for Wilson, as Za'Darius and Preston combined for four sacks. This game was actually a big deal for the Packers. This team didn't record many impressive wins during the course of the regular season, so it's meaningful that they were able to score a postseason win against an 11-5 team that had lost just one road game all year. On paper, Green Bay can match up with anybody, but the Packers have just been inconsistent. The fact that Rodgers, Jones, Adams and the Smiths were all able to step up and perform with the season on the line should encourage Packers fans as they prepare for the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.
Why the Seahawks lost
Wilson really was magical on Sunday night, and he's the reason Seattle found itself back in the game. Why did it take so long for the Seahawks to going though? Even though there's no Chris Carson, no Rashaad Penny, no C.J. Prosise and Marshawn Lynch is 33-years-old, Pete Carroll was absolutely set on trying to run the ball. After D.K. Metcalfagainst the Philadelphia Eagles, I really thought Carroll was going to game plan around him and give his budding star another shot to shine on a national stage. He went from seven catches for 160 yards and a touchdown last week to four catches for 59 yards on Sunday night. Facing a 21-3 deficit at halftime, obviously the Seahawks were going to have to pass the ball and give Wilson the green light to make things happen. Seattle scored touchdowns on its first three drives of the second half, and Wilson breathed life into the offense. The Seahawks really just ran out of time in the game. The commitment to the run was puzzling because it simply wasn't working. As soon as the Seahawks started passing the ball and trying to make things happen -- things began to happen. They waited too long to become aggressive.
With the Seahawks having scored on their first three second-half possessions, it really felt like Wilson was going to make this game his own. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they faced a fourth down for the first time in the half with just under three minutes remaining in the game, and Carroll elected to punt. Sure, it was 4th-and-11 on the Seahawks' own 36-yard line, but were you going to put the game in the hands of your star in Wilson, or in the hands of your inconsistent defense? Carroll elected for the latter, and the Packers were then basically able to run out the clock.
Since we had not hit the two-minute warning yet, the Packers still needed to acquire a couple of first downs to keep the clock moving. They faced a 3rd-and-8 with 2:12 left in the game, and it was time to put up or shut up.
Here's what happened next:
Adams was able to free himself by slipping past Ugo Amadi, and Rodgers hit him with a perfectly-placed ball. Big-time players make big-time plays, and it was at this moment that we realized the Seahawks were playing in their last game of the season.
Play of the game
This was so beautiful. Yes, it may just look like a routine touchdown from Adams, but I love the play design here.
Adams was lined up on the outside and started off his route as if he was going to run a slant. Meanwhile, his teammate in the slot acted as if he was going to run a drag route to the outside, but quickly turned it back inside. At the same moment, Adams bounced his route back towards the outside and up the field. The corner on Adams shifted off of him to the slot wideout, which freed Adams for the big play. It went exactly how LaFleur wanted it to.
The Packers will now travel out west to take on the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, a San Francisco team that just defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 27-10, on Saturday. While Jimmy Garoppolo is not like Wilson, he's surrounded by some pretty versatile weapons such as Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle. They also have the best defensive line in the NFL, so this one could be a low-scoring affair or a shootout. Either way it's going to be an exciting one, since the winner will get to represent their conference in Super Bowl LIV.