Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after
throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb
during the second half of an NFL football game against the
Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago.
GREEN BAY —
Take it from Aaron Rodgers himself. This one was special.
touchdown pass lifted Green Bay to a 33-38 victory at Chicago on
Sunday, giving the Packers the NFC North championship. The 48-yard
pass to Randall Cobb came with 38 seconds to go.
"It was just
one of the most amazing feelings ever," Rodgers said on his
weekly radio show Tuesday. "I just blacked out. It was
It was the
culmination of a tale of two halves for Rodgers, who was playing
his first game since breaking his collarbone against Chicago on
In the first
half, Rodgers completed 14 of 22 passes for 145 yards, with two
interceptions and a dismal passer rating of 44.7. In the second
half, Rodgers completed 11 of 17 passes for 173 yards, with two
touchdowns and a passer rating of 137.6.
said rust from an eight-week layoff wasn't a factor, even though
the NFL's career leader in interception percentage had just the
ninth multi-interception game in 87 professional starts.
"My arm felt
good. Mentally, I felt good," Rodgers said on ESPN Milwaukee.
"I prepared hard all week, but there's always going to be
some sort of reindoctrination period, if you will. It was kind of
like the preseason for me. I wanted to take that first hit, get
that first throw in a live game rep. I've played a lot of
football. It didn't take long to get into the mix."
take many hits. He was sacked three times and hit on just one
other occasion. He also was on the receiving end of a late hit by
Shea McClellin — who sacked Rodgers when he was hurt on Nov. 4
— though Rodgers said he didn't think the latest hit was a dirty
play. He said most aches in his calves, which cramped up following
a third-down scramble on the winning drive.
conscious about it early," Rodgers said. "I don't want
to take any unnecessary shots, so I made sure I got down on that
first slide (on the first series of game) pretty early. That late
third-and-4, it was purely reactionary."
Rodgers' long layoff, offensive coordinator Tom Clements said it
was "standard operating procedure" in terms of game
planning and play calling. There was no thought to easing him back
in the game or playing it safe.
practicing for three weeks," Clements said Tuesday. "As
we do every game, he meets with Mike (McCarthy, the coach) and he
talks about the plays he likes and the plays that maybe he might
want to focus on later in the game. It's a collaborative effort.
What types of plays that were being called, he felt comfortable
with them and he was able to execute them."
the only member of the offense returning to action. Cobb had
missed the previous 10 games after breaking a shin at Baltimore on
Oct. 13. He caught just two passes in his 37 snaps, though they
were both big plays: a 7-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter
and the 48-yard game-winner.
played more snaps than anticipated," Clements said. "I'm
sure that's good for his confidence. He didn't have a problem
playing the extended number of plays."
The victory over
Chicago set up an NFC wild-card game against San Francisco on
Sunday at Lambeau Field. The 49ers beat the Packers twice in 2012
— Week 1 and the divisional playoffs — as well as the 2013
opener at San Francisco.
The Packers ran
19 times for 63 yards in that game but finished the season with
the league's seventh-ranked rushing attack. With Rodgers, Cobb and
the backfield duo of Eddie Lacy and James Starks — not to
mention ample momentum — the Packers believe they're ready.
better team, they're a better team," Clements said.
"Over the course of the year, you get better. We've developed
into a running team so hopefully that will pay dividends for
Packers-49ers playoff game still not
GREEN BAY, Wis. — It seems unthinkable that
Lambeau Field wouldn't sell out for a Packers playoff game. Yet
thousands of tickets are still available for Sunday's wild-card
game against the 49ers.
The team says about 7,500 tickets were still available as of
A Press-Gazette Media report (http://gbpg.net/1dTGN8e) says
according to NFL rules, the game has to sell out by Thursday at
3:40 p.m. to avoid a local TV blackout. That's 72 hours before
kickoff. However, the league has given extensions in previous
years for playoff games, and it's monitoring the Packers'
Part of the reason tickets are available is that an early
deadline for season-ticket holders to reserve tickets arrived
when the team was mired in a five-game winless streak.
In addition, temperatures are expected to be frigid Sunday.