For the first time since 2016, the Green Bay Packers will play for the NFC Championship after knocking off the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 in the divisional round at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
The Packers earned a first-round bye thanks to five straight wins to end the regular season. They have also won six straight games at home dating back to Week 6.
In a battle between two of the NFL's best quarterbacks, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams stole the show with a franchise-record 160 receiving yards.
Russell Wilson did everything in his power to carry the Seahawks. The MVP candidate had 277 yards passing and ran for a game-high 64 yards, but it ultimately wasn't enough.
Notable Game Stats
- Aaron Rodgers, QB (GB): 16-27, 243 yards, 2 TD
- Davante Adams, WR (GB): 8 receptions, 160 yards, 2 TD
- Aaron Jones, RB (GB): 21 carries, 62 yards, 2 TD
- Jimmy Graham, TE (GB): 3 receptions, 49 yards
- Russell Wilson, QB (SEA): 21-31, 277 yards, 1 TD; 7 carries, 64 yards
- Tyler Lockett, WR (SEA): 9 receptions, 136 yards, 1 TD
- Marshawn Lynch, RB (SEA): 12 carries, 26 yards, 2 TD
Packers Ride Big Plays to Victory
There were understandable concerns about the Packers offense coming into the playoffs. The team didn't score more than 23 points in each of its last four games of the regular season. Rodgers completed just 27 of 55 attempts in Week 17 against a Detroit Lions secondary that allowed the most passing yards per game.
Green Bay wasted no time putting those concerns to rest with a 75-yard scoring drive on the first possession of the game. Aaron Jones started things off with a 23-yard run to set the tone. Rodgers and Adams hooked up twice, including on the touchdown from 20 yards out.
Adams proved to be a huge difference in the game against a Seattle secondary that gave up 263.9 passing yards per game. He found the end zone from 40 yards out by running away from Tre Flowers after making a catch.
Even when the Packers were struggling to score down the stretch in the regular season, Adams was a constant source of good for the team. He had at least seven receptions, 13 targets and 93 yards in each of the final three games coming into the postseason.
Adams nearly hit two of those marks in the first half against the Seahawks and was getting separation with ease:
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
Davante Adams has been Aaron Rodgers' go-to receiver tonight, accounting for 68% of the @packers team air yards and this 40-yard TD. @tae15adams has had little trouble getting open—Adams has had 3+ yards of separation on 7 of 8 targets (season-high 88%). #SEAvsGB | #GoPackGo https://t.co/JgeMAXTebj
Tight ends had a field day going up against Seattle's defense this season. It allowed 106 receptions, 1,216 yards and six touchdowns to players at the position in 2019, per CBSSports.com.
Jimmy Graham didn't have a huge day overall, but he found an opening for a 27-yard gain in the third quarter that helped set up Adams' second touchdown catch two plays later.
The middle of the field was huge for Rodgers throughout the game. After Seattle cut the deficit to 28-23 early in the fourth quarter, the two-time NFL MVP found Geronimo Allison for a huge third-down conversion that allowed them to take three minutes off the clock.
Rodgers went back to Adams and Graham for two huge third-down conversions on the final drive that allowed them to run out the clock.
The 49ers dominated Green Bay 37-8 when these two teams played at Levi's Stadium on Nov. 24. The Packers had season-lows with 198 total yards and 81 passing yards in that game.
If this version of Rodgers and the Packers show up next week, it has the ability to cause a lot of problems for a San Francisco defense that's coming off a dominant performance against the Minnesota Vikings.
Russell Wilson Dazzles as Seahawks Come Up Short
The Seahawks' formula for success in 2019 has been keeping games close until the fourth quarter, at which point Wilson takes over.
There was a brief moment when it seemed like Seattle's magic had run out when the Packers scored on three consecutive drives between the second and third quarters to take a 28-10 lead. The defense wasn't getting stops, so how could Wilson do his thing?
The answer, it turns out, was the Seahawks would simply steal a page from Green Bay's book. They had their own run of three straight touchdown drives to start the second half. Wilson anchored things with his arm and legs.
Seattle was able to cut the deficit to 28-23 early in the fourth quarter on Marshawn Lynch's second touchdown of the game.
Wilson accounted for 68 of the Seahawks' 79 yards on that scoring drive, which didn't include one third-down attempt.
Head coach Pete Carroll opted to go for two, but Jaire Alexander sacked Wilson to keep it a five-point game. The Seahawks did get the ball back at their own 23-yard line with 4:54 remaining and a chance to take the lead.
When the Packers sacked Wilson on 3rd-and-5 to bring up a fourth down from the Seahawks' 36, Carroll opted to punt the ball away. That would be the last time his offense touched the ball.
Seattle's play-calling was subject to heavy scrutiny, particularly its reliance on the run with Wilson at quarterback:
There was a controversial call on Green Bay's final drive when the officials awarded Graham a first down on a 3rd-and-9 play, even though it appeared he was down before getting to the first-down marker.
The booth did review the spot, but the call on the field stood.
Seattle has lived on the edge all season, with 14 of its 18 games, including the playoffs, decided by eight points or less.
More often than not, Wilson has been able to step up in the biggest moments to give his team a win. He nearly did it again, but the Seahawks will have to regroup and prepare for the 2020 season.
The Packers will travel to Levi's Stadium for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET.