GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN // The Green Bay Packers set up a season finale with a play-off berth on the line. The New York Giants were 800 miles away from home with a post-season shot nearly as long.
Aaron Rodgers returned from a concussion to throw for 404 yards and four touchdowns and the Packers routed the Giants 45-17 on Sunday while a blizzard blanketed New York, forcing the Giants to spend another night in Wisconsin.
"Depressing. It would've been a lot easier with a win. Nothing we can do about it though," Kevin Boss, the Giants' tight end, said.
"Usually you go home to your family and kind of lick your wounds, but you're stuck here by yourself and it's not going to be the greatest time."
The Giants (9-6) returned to the team hotel in Appleton and hoped to leave yesterday morning.
Tom Coughlin, the coach, said the Giants would try to make the best of it, holding meetings.
"But there's no denying what took place," he said.
"Facts are facts. We're responsible for it. I'm responsible for it. So, we have to live with it."
The facts are ugly for New York, which turned over the ball six times a week after squandering a 31-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter in a devastating loss to Philadelphia.
A victory over the Packers (9-6) would have clinched a play-off berth for the Giants.
Instead, they are left looking at messy scenarios to reach the play-offs, all of which require them to win at Washington next Sunday and hope at least one of their competitors for the final NFC play-offs berth lose.
Meanwhile, the Packers now control their fate; if they win at home against the Chicago Bears, Green Bay are in.
"This has been an up and down year," Rodgers said. "A lot of things have happened both positively and negatively that we might not have expected, but we go into the last game of the season with a chance to make the playoffs with a win and that's all we can ask for right now."
Justin Tuck, the Giants defensive lineman, said he was shocked at how badly the Packers beat them in a game that was tied at 14 less just before the half.
"They had a lot to play for and they just played harder than we did," he said. "It's a sick feeling in my stomach to be able to say that, considering what we had at stake. We played like we didn't have anything to play for."
Eli Manning threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but also had four interceptions a week after the Giants allowed the Eagles to score 28 points in the final eight minutes.
"I've got to pull the trigger, so if you have interceptions, it's my fault and we had four today. There's not one that wasn't my fault, so I've got to be smarter with the ball," Manning said.
John Kuhn ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for a score for the Packers.
Rodgers sat out the game the previous week, at New England, because of his second concussion of the season. Greg Jennings caught seven passes for 142 yards for Green Bay.