x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Packers are almost out of superlatives for Rodgers

Another game, another superlative performance by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who keeps the Green Bay Packers on the road to perfection with a last-minute drive against the Giants.

The Giants kept knocking Aaron Rodgers, centre, down, but in the end it was the Green Bay quarterback who delivered a knock-out blow.
The Giants kept knocking Aaron Rodgers, centre, down, but in the end it was the Green Bay quarterback who delivered a knock-out blow.

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey // Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers showed they could get the job done with the game and perfection on the line.

Rodgers completed passes of 24, 27 and 18 yards in a lightning-quick five-play drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by Mason Crosby on the final play, and the Packers remained undefeated and clinched a play-off berth with a 38-35 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Not only did the defending Super Bowl champions qualify for the post-season for the third successive year, the Packers (12-0) clinched the NFC North later that night when Detroit lost in New Orleans.

"I'm not going to talk about 16-0 or anything, I think it's one at a time," Rodgers said. "We got the play-off spot, division [title], hopefully getting the first-round bye and then fortunate enough to be undefeated, and I want to talk about something else."

The Packers still have a shot at a perfect season because Rodgers was remarkable after the Giants (6-6) tied the game with 58 seconds to play on Eli Manning's third touchdown pass and a stunning two-point conversion run by DJ Ware - a play on which Manning called an audible.

It was not enough, though - not with Rodgers making all the late plays on a day he also threw four touchdowns.

The loss was another heartbreaker for New York. They played exceptionally well after being blown out by New Orleans the previous Monday night.

The Giants tied it by marching 69 yards in nine plays with a two-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Hakeem Nicks and the two-point run finishing the march.

The Giants defence, however, could not stop Rodgers.

"I'm running out of things to say about him," said Mike McCarthy, the Packers coach. "He's a great quarterback. Playing against the pass rush they had, he hung in there and made the plays."

Rodgers started the Giants on their way to a fourth consecutive loss by hitting Jermichael Finley, the tight end, with a 24-yard pass just over the hands of Jacquian Williams, the rookie linebacker.

"I thought it was mine," Williams said. "Like I said, it's a good throw and catch. He made some good throws."

The second throw covered 27 yards to Jordy Nelson down the left sideline and moved the ball to the New York 29. An 18-yard pass to Greg Jennings two plays later moved the ball to the 12.

Green Bay called time out with three seconds to go before Crosby delivered his winning kick.

"It was a huge drive," said Jennings, who also caught a 20-yard touchdown. "We haven't had one like that at the end in a while. It was very quiet in the huddle, actually. You could see everybody was focused. It's great to see what we could do at the end like that."

The three-point victory was the Packers' smallest winning margin this season.

"When you get a chance to knock out the champ, you gotta knock him out," Justin Tuck, the Giants defensive captain, said. "You can't let them hang around and fight off the ropes. You've got to knock him out. There's a reason they've won 18 straight."

For the Giants, everything was not terrible, as Dallas also lost, leaving New York a game behind the Dallas Cowboys, who lost in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals, in the NFC East with four games to go. The teams will play twice over that span. And the Atlanta Falcons, in the wild-card chase with New York, lost to the Houston Texans.

"It gives us relief to know we're still right in the mix," said Manning, who was 23 of 40 for 347 yards.

It is not surprising New York gave them a game. The Giants ended Denver's perfect season at 11 games in 1998 and they knocked off New England in the Super Bowl in February 2008 when Tom Brady and his team were a game from perfection.


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