Rodgers, Packers on song as Rams downed in NFL playoffs

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 17 2021 09:17 AM

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles past Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) to score a touchdown in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- Aaron Rodgers threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as the Green Bay Packers moved to within one win of the Super Bowl on Saturday with a 32-18 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Rodgers set up an NFC Championship game against either Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints as Green Bay subdued the Rams defense at a frigid Lambeau Field.

It was a deserved victory for the Packers, who controlled the divisional-round clash for long periods with a potent running and passing game before holding off a second-half Rams rally.

"This feels really good right now," said Rodgers, who finished with 296 passing yards from 23-of-36 to stay on course for a second Super Bowl appearance, 10 years after leading the Packers to his first Vince Lombardi trophy.

The Packers were also buoyed by the presence of fans at Lambeau for the first time this season due to Covid-19, with a socially distanced crowd of 8,456 roaring them on.

"We have really missed that part of the experience," Rodgers said. "So to run out of the tunnel tonight was unbelievable.

"It's hard to explain how much it means, having that energy from the crowd. But being able to play in front of them tonight was really special."

A third-quarter touchdown from Rams running back Cam Akers followed by a successful two-point conversion had cut Green Bay's lead to seven points at 25-18 heading into the fourth quarter.

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- Knockout blow -

But Rodgers delivered the knockout blow, hitting receiver Allen Lazard for a 58-yard touchdown to make it 32-18 and put the game out of reach.

Green Bay had dominated the first half, moving the chains methodically and coming away with points on every possession in the first two quarters.

Mason Crosby kicked them into the lead with a 24-yard field on their opening drive before the Rams responded with a field goal of their own from Matt Gay to tie it at 3-3 in the first quarter.

Rodgers tossed a one-yard pass to Davante Adams to put Green Bay 10-3 up, and the Packers quarterback then skipped into the end zone for a one-yard rushing touchdown to make it 16-3.

The Rams hauled themselves back into the contest with their next possession, quarterback Jared Goff upping the tempo before arrowing a four-yard pass into Van Jefferson to make it 16-10.

Rodgers, however, was not done. He made completions of 21 and 33 yards to set up another Crosby field goal for a 19-10 half-time lead.

Green Bay started the second half on the front foot, with running back Aaron Jones setting off on a 60-yard gallop that took the Packers deep into Rams territory with the opening play of the half.

Jones capped the drive by rushing into the end zone for a touchdown and a 25-10 lead.

With the Rams defense finally managing to make a stop, Akers' touchdown and clever two-point conversion gave Los Angeles hope at 25-18.

The Rams then forced another punt, but on the next possession Goff was sacked as Green Bay's defense reasserted itself.

On the next drive, Rodgers made the game safe with a long touchdown pass to Lazard.

The Packers will now host either Tampa Bay or New Orleans -- who play Sunday -- at Lambeau Field next weekend. 

In Saturday's other playoff game, the Buffalo Bills were facing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC. 

© Agence France-Presse