The Green Bay Packers may have stumbled into the playoffs, but they all but sprinted into the divisional playoffs with a 35-18 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday night.
This wild card weekend proved to be an insane one — from Kansas City’s rout of the Texans to the Bengals blowing it against the Steelers to the Vikings kicking away victory — but the Packers/Redskins game proved to be the tamest of the games. But it proved to be one of the better games in terms of scoring with both teams netting a combined 53 points.
It was essentially a tale of four quarters as the Redskins seemed destined for victory in the first quarter. The Redskins defense was able to get after Rodgers early sacking him in the endzone for a safety and keeping the Packers offense off the field. Washington’s offense also found its stride early jumping out to a 11-0 lead before the Packers started to gain its footing in the second quarter.
The Packers ground game took off in the second half behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks, a retooled offensive line, and a confident Rodgers as they took control with a healthy dose of run-pass that the Redskins defense couldn’t seem to answer. Better yet, the Redskins offense couldn’t keep up as the Packers defense turned it up, getting after Kirk Cousins, who they sacked five times.
The Redskins are a team that doesn’t play well when behind. Washington nursed a lead for most of the first half before the Packers offense began to find its footing, but when the Packers jumped out to a two-score lead in the third fourth quarter they struggled to maintain drives and keep a rejuvenated Packers offense off the field.
Green Bay, on the other hand, is one of those teams that seems to thrive on those come-from-behind opportunities, as they should be with a quarterback like Rodgers leading the charge. While the Packers have found themselves trailing late in the season, they were able to sustain drives, protect the football, and not make the little mistakes that have plagued them in the past.
Despite the early playoff exit, the future is bright for Washington and its young stars. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is sure to lock up a long-term deal with the Redskins that will keep him in Washington for the foreseeable future and he’ll continue to grow under coach Jay Gruden.
The Packers are headed in the right direction as they’ve seemed to gain some of that confidence that they lost toward the end of the season and heading into the playoffs. They’ll face off against an Arizona Cardinals team that routed them back in Week 16, but that was a different team. That was a Packers team lacking confidence and playing not so smart football. If the Packers can keep the momentum going then they might be able to once again play upset on the road against a surging Cardinals team.
Game Ball To…
No doubt the game ball goes to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who battled out of his first half funk to lead his team to victory on the road. While Rodgers’ numbers weren’t on par with his typical impressive outings — 21-of-36 for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns — Rodgers was able to make plays late in the game to give his team the edge and glide to a divisional match-up. Whenever Aaron Rodgers is on your team there’s always a chance at victory.
The Packers will face-off against the No. 2 seed Arizona Cardinals in the divisional playoffs, where they were blown out in Week 16, on Saturday. The Seahawks will play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.