If the best defense in the NFL can’t contain the Green Bay Packers, it’s hard to believe anyone else has much of a chance.
The Packers used every club in the bag on Saturday. They ran it with ease right at the Rams behind a great offensive line performance. They went with fast tempo, which seemed to put the Rams on their heels. There were countless formations and motions. And when the Packers needed Aaron Rodgers, he looked every bit the MVP of the NFL. It was a reputation-making performance by Packers coach Matt LaFleur.
Even when the Packers offense hit a bit of a lull in the second half and the Rams got back in the game, Rodgers hit Allen Lazard for a game-breaking 58-yard touchdown with 6:52 left. The Packers move on to the NFC championship game next week after a 32-18 win over the Rams.
It’s hard to even blame the Rams. It’s hard to stop an opponent when they’re doing everything right.
Packers offense was spectacular
The strength of the Rams defense is Aaron Donald being able to rush the passer and Jalen Ramsey limiting the best receivers in the game. That’s how the Rams led the league in points and yards allowed.
It seemed like a good matchup for the Rams against the Packers, who rely heavily on Adams and the passing game. And Adams did have a pretty quiet game by his standards. He had nine catches, but for just 66 yards. Green Bay showed off its versatility instead.
Thanks in large part to left guard Elgton Jenkins, a 2020 Pro Bowler, the Packers dictated most of the game. Jenkins was able to control Donald, the best defensive player in the NFL. Donald was so frustrated he grabbed Jenkins’ facemask after a first-half play, getting a 15-yard penalty just before the Packers would have faced a third-and-7. It’s not often a left guard is a game’s MVP, but Jenkins had a case after his phenomenal game.
Donald was clearly not 100 percent coming off a rib injury suffered last week and didn’t play as many snaps as usual. All that mattered to the Packers was that Donald wasn’t in their backfield most of the afternoon.
The Packers maintained long drives in the first half and scored touchdowns on two nifty plays. Green Bay’s first touchdown came when Adams went in motion from right to left, bringing Ramsey with him. Then Adams quickly went back in motion to the right, and the timing between Rodgers and Adams was perfect on the wide-open touchdown pass.
Green Bay had a third-and-goal later in the second quarter when Rodgers started rolling out. He pump faked and Leonard Floyd bought it, jumping in the air. Rodgers pulled it back and had a lane to the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Packers had some nervous moments in the second half. Jared Goff played well, especially considering he’s still less than three weeks removed from thumb surgery. The Packers led by just a touchdown in the fourth quarter. But Rodgers put the game away with the long pass to Lazard.
Aaron Rodgers had another strong game
Rodgers had 296 yards, spreading it around with Adams not a huge part of the game plan. Green Bay’s running game put up 188 yards with Aaron Jones leading the way with 99 yards. The defense also looked good. It was the type of performance you expect to see out of a No. 1 seed in the divisional round.
Given all of Rodgers’ success, which has included playoff appearances just about every season he has been Packers quarterback, it’s weird that next Sunday will be the first time he will start an NFC championship game at Lambeau Field. The Packers lost the NFC championship game last season to the 49ers, but that was on the road.
Green Bay will host the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET. For those curious, the 10-day forecast for Green Bay says there will be a high of 25 and a low of 15 with a 35 percent chance of snow. Tom Brady or Drew Brees won’t love those conditions.
The Packers’ story has revolved around Rodgers for many seasons. Their inability to get back to the Super Bowl with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever has been a constant theme. With another win, the Packers can put a lot of that to rest. Rodgers is still the star of the show in Green Bay, but the Packers showed Saturday they have plenty of ways to score.
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