Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) breaks ups a pass
intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15)
during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20,
2015, in Oakland, Calif.
OAKLAND, Calif. —
After losing four of five games during a
rare midseason slump, the Green Bay Packers are back where they
usually are this time of year: headed to the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass and Damarious Randall
returned an interception for another score to help the Packers beat
the Oakland Raiders 30-20 on Sunday, after Green Bay clinched a
franchise-record seventh straight postseason spot.
"It's big, especially when a couple weeks ago everybody was
counting us out," said defensive back Micah Hyde, who had an early
interception that helped Green Bay get off to a fast start.
"It's good to clinch, but at the same time, this is something
that's expected around here."
The Packers (10-4) clinched the postseason in the first quarter
when the New York Giants lost to Carolina.
But the Packers still have their eyes set on a division title and
they remained one game ahead of Minnesota in the NFC North.
Packers fullback John Kuhn scores on a 5-yard run against the
Oakland Raiders during the first half.
But the Packers still have plenty of
work to do before January. They failed to get into the end zone on
their final four red zone trips and blew a 14-point lead before
recovering for the win. But they aren't concerned with those
problems right now.
"We're right where I want to be. Right where we need to be," coach
Mike McCarthy said. "The style points, you can flush that. I'm sick
and tired about talking about the negativity — we've won 10 games."
Derek Carr threw two early interceptions to put Oakland (6-8) in a
hole, but then had a pair of touchdown passes to Amari Cooper. It
wasn't enough as the Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention
for the 13th straight season.
"It hurts. It hurt my heart to be honest because I know how much
work I put into this, how much work our team puts into this, our
coaches," Carr said.
"I know the sacrifice during the week and even during the offseason.
Everyone's ultimate goal is to go to the playoffs and win the Super
Bowl. That's always my goal, that will never change.
The Packers built a 14-0 lead with defense and then had to win it
behind Rodgers and the offense. Green Bay fell behind 20-17 midway
through the third quarter on Carr's second touchdown pass to Cooper.
Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) celebrates with
teammate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix after Randall returned an
interception for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during
the first half.
The Oakland lead was short-lived as
Jeff Janis returned the ensuing kickoff to the 47. Three plays
later, former Raider James Jones beat a busted coverage for a
30-yard touchdown catch.
"Those kind of mistakes, they kill you as a team," safety Charles
Woodson said. "We gave ourselves a chance. Just didn't come up at
the end when we needed to."
Rodgers engineered a 19-play field goal drive on Green Bay's next
possession and Mason Crosby's third field goal made it 30-20 with
4:25 left to put the Packers in control.
The highlight for the Raiders was rookie Cooper cracking the
1,000-yard milestone, as he caught six passes for 120 yards. He
reached the mark on a 41-yard catch in the third quarter, becoming
the first Oakland player with 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss
in 2005. That was the longest current drought in the NFL.
The rest of the accolades went to the Packers, who got 2 1/2 sacks
from Julius Peppers to win their third straight game.
Carr threw two interceptions in the first quarter to set up Green
Bay touchdowns. Hyde's interception set up the Packers at the 18 and
John Kuhn ran it in from the 5 for the first score.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is tackled by Green Bay
Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers, left, and outside
linebacker Mike Neal (96) during the second half.
Carr's next pass was high to Seth
Roberts and Randall returned it 43 yards for a touchdown that made
The Raiders rallied with a pair of field goals in the second
quarter, but the Packers still looked to be in control as they drove
into scoring range late in the half.
But Benson Mayowa forced and recovered a fumble by James Starks at
the Oakland 21 with 1:22 to go and Carr connected on a 19-yard TD
pass to Cooper four plays later to make it 14-13 at the half.
NOTES: Packers LB Jayrone Elliott (quadriceps) and OL David
Bakhtiari (ankle) left with injuries. ... Raiders DE Mario Edwards
Jr. left after the first drive with a neck injury and WR Seth
Roberts (abdominal) also was injured.