The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, January 13, 2020 1:00 am

Packers hold on to return to NFC title game

DAVE CAMPBELL | Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers connected with Davante Adams eight times for 160 yards and two touchdowns, Green Bay's spruced-up defense fended off a spirited Seattle 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.

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.

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 just before the two-minute warning on the second sack of the game by Preston Smith. That was Green Bay's fifth of the game. Za'Darius Smith, the other big-money free agent added to the defense last spring, had two sacks himself.

The Seahawks never got the ball again.

Rodgers sealed the win with two third-down throws: first a 32-yard pass to Adams on third-and-8 with 2:19 left and then 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.

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 lost 28-22 in overtime. The Seahawks haven't been back to the conference title game since. Rodgers is running out of time faster than Wilson, though, nine years after his championship.

The Seahawks had just a plus-seven scoring margin during the regular season, making quite the habit of second-half rallies.

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. Marshawn Lynch finished two of them with scores, and Wilson threw to Tyler Lockett for the other one.

Lynch's second touchdown with 9:33 left cut the lead to 28-23, but Jaire Alexander blew up the 2-point conversion attempt with a sack on an unblocked blitz. The Packers gave the ball back to the Seahawks with a second consecutive punts, this time with 4:54 left at the Seattle 22, but Wilson ran out of tricks in his seemingly bottomless bag of them.

The Packers had three touchdown drives of 75 yards apiece over the first three quarters, plus a 60-yard march preceded by a missed 50-yard field goal try from Jason Myers.

Rodgers hasn't had much help beyond Adams and Jones this season, but he and coach Matt LaFleur did a masterful job of getting them the ball with some Tyler Ervin and Jimmy Graham mixed in. On the opening possession, Adams and Geronimo Allison ran angled routes toward each other before faking the pick and zagging away. Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers was caught in the confusion, allowing Adams to break free for the 20-yard score.

Conference Championships

AFC: Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs

When: Sunday, 3:05 p.m.

Where: Arrowhead Stadium,Kansas City

TV: CBS

NFC: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

When: Sunday, 6:40 p.m.

Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: Fox


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