2019 Divisional Round - That's What Cheese Said

The Packers beat the Seahawks to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2016. Now the team is 60 minutes away from a Super Bowl, and that, naturally, is the talk of the locker room. 

The Green Bay Packers are going to the NFC Championship Game. After a 28-23 victory over Seattle that ended maybe a little too close for some fans’ liking, the Packers are onto San Francisco for a rematch with the 49ers. Only this time, win and you’re in (the Super Bowl). 

“All I can say is, that’s pretty indicative of our entire season right there,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. It was a hard fought battle for a full four quarters, but Green Bay put the game away when it needed to. 

The Packers are 60 minutes away from a sixth Super Bowl appearance for the franchise. That certainly isn’t lost on any of the players in the locker room, veterans or rookies. 

“We have had some ugly wins this year, but a lot of them have involved some moments of adversity that we’ve pushed through. And I think that’s a characteristic of our football team, is in those moments, we’ve come up with plays,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

“Whether it’s a pass, or the line blocking and a run springing, or a defensive stop, or a great, game-winning punt. You know? We’ve had a lot of those moments where we’ve needed a play at a certain time. We’ve needed a stop on defense. Preston came up with a sack. We needed to convert a couple of big third downs and we made it happen. That’s just the character of this football team. It’s very high, and there’s a lot of belief in those moments that we’re going to get the job done. And today was fun to have to have plays and to make them.”

Rodgers was in playoff form on Sunday against Seattle, completing 16 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 113.7. 

Both of those touchdown passes were caught by Davante Adams, who set a new franchise record with 160 yards on eight catches against the Seahawks. Rodgers had some high praise for his No. 1 receiver after the game, comparing the relationship he has with Adams to one he had with former receiver Jordy Nelson.

“Tonight reminds me of the connection that Jordy and I had for so many years where there’s some unspoken things that we could do without even communicating anything about it. And Davante made three or four plays like that tonight, so that was pretty fun,” said Rodgers. 

The Packers were also much improved on third down against Seattle, going 9-of-14 for a 64% completion percentage. Tight end Jimmy Graham had perhaps his best game of the season, with three receptions (all on third-down) for 49 yards. He also caught the final pass of the game, giving the Packers a first down and the opportunity to run out the clock. 

The first down, of course, was reviewed for what felt like an eternity on the field, because games against Seattle can never wrap up smoothly. When asked how the quarterback felt about the first-down ruling, QB1 smiled. 

“We kinda got hosed in that first quarter one, so I was hoping we didn’t get hosed again,” said Rodgers, referencing the “no clear recovery” call on a fumble that allowed Seattle to maintain possession of the football. 

“It was a true team effort,” said Graham. “It’s just a special win, it really is. Now we have the opportunity to be one win away from going back onto Miami.”

Running back Aaron Jones also had a busy night on the ground. While he only tallied 62 yards on 21 attempts, he did add another two touchdowns on the scoreboard. For Jones, and many other players in the locker room, this was his first postseason appearance. Now, the next game is for a shot at a ring. 

“60 minutes away. One play at a time, one snap at a time, I’ll play them every play and we’ll be where we want to be,” said Jones. 

Defensively, the players had their hands full trying to contain an elusive Russell Wilson for a full four quarters. Despite jumping out to a 21-3 lead at the half, Wilson came back in the second half and made plays on the ground, scrambling and extending drives to bring the Seahawks within one score. 

Za’Darius Smith got the team started with a sack early, flashing a “snubbed” shirt under his jersey. When asked about the shirt, Z played it off. 

“We’re worried about getting to the Super Bowl baby,” he said, before adding, “but the world know what that shirt meant.”

Za’Darius made sure to give Preston plenty of praise at the duo’s post-game interview, as both finished with two sacks on the night. Za’Darius mentioned that Preston was roaming the sidelines saying he needed to make a play, then he did just that, sacking Wilson to force a punt. The Seahawks never got the ball back. 

Preston described chasing Wilson like “chasing a chicken in a field with no fence.” And for those that aren’t familiar with the visual, he suggests you YouTube it. 

“I think I talked to ‘12’ a week ago, and he was just talking about this opportunity we have to go all the way.” Za’Darius said, referencing how Rodgers alluded to the defense helping him win his second ring. “It’s win or go home now.”

While this team is close to its first Super Bowl berth since the 2010 season, nobody is getting ahead of themselves in the locker room. After all, San Francisco handed Green Bay its worst loss of the season in Week 12. 

“To be in this position, do as well as we did in the regular season, and to come out and make a statement with this win when nobody thought that we would, everybody was against us, all the ugly wins, I guess they didn’t look good enough for everybody to think we were going to come out here and handle business. So I’m proud of my boys,” said Davante Adams.

Adams referenced that he’s already been to two NFC Championship Games, so while the excitement is there, there’s still plenty in front of them. “I’ll be really excited when we get on the plane to go to Miami,” he added. “We’re not jumping the gun, we still have one in front of us. But to be in this situation where everything is still in front of us at this point in the season is definitely a great feeling and I’m happy about it.”

Cornerback Kevin King, another player who made his first playoff appearance against Seattle, was asked at his locker what a chance at the Super Bowl feels like. 

“It feels like we’ve got one more game to play,” he said matter-of-factly. 

“They’re a great football team. We’re a great football team. So the best team is going to come out of there,” added Kenny Clark. 

“What we’ve done is closed out games the right way,” said Rodgers at the podium. “This is where it gets really fun. There’s only four teams left, and we’re one of them. We’ve got a legitimate chance.”

The players and coaches remember what happened at Levi’s Stadium earlier in the season, but LaFleur is convinced this is a different Packers team now, with players echoing that they’re ready for a rematch, and that this time they won’t “beat themselves” early. 

While the team prepares for San Francisco, the importance of a home playoff game at Lambeau Field wasn’t lost on the team, and in the self-proclaimed back-nine of his career, Rodgers made sure to soak up every piece of the atmosphere. 

“It’s the last home game of the year. And we have such a special relationship with our fans. Guys who have been other places understand how special it is here. It’s just a different connection. We don’t have an owner. We have thousands of people who have a piece of paper that’s a stock certificate. But people feel like they’re invested in what we’re doing,” said Rodgers. “They stuck with us through a couple rough years, so to walk off the field being a No. 2 seed, where, let’s be honest, I don’t know that even our fans felt supremely confident in us. Which, I know that a lot of the media didn’t as well. But to be able to walk off that field again victorious, there’s no feeling like it.

“I stopped myself in the second quarter tonight, and was looking around when it was a TV timeout and they were waving the flags, and I just couldn’t, it was just a special moment. Just seeing just the whole stadium waving those white towels and just, I just think I was really, in that moment, grateful for the opportunity and loving what I do.”

LaFleur made sure to also give praise to you, Packers fans, for getting loud all season and supporting the team the entire way. One more win and this team is going to the Super Bowl. But first, it’s time to take care of business with a rematch by the Bay.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (22)

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ShooterMcGee's picture

January 14, 2020 at 04:19 pm

I don't know how we will beat the 9ers, they are such a great team, but anything is possible.

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stockholder's picture

January 14, 2020 at 05:06 pm

Need, Execution, Protecting the ball, DEFENSE!

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Lphill's picture

January 14, 2020 at 06:15 pm

I’m sure nobody expected the Packers to make it this far with all the changes especially Lafluer himself , if the Packers finished with. .500 record we would have said ok next season let’s improve on that and go for 10 wins , yet here we are , if Rodgers has his mojo back and beats the 49 ers we are winning the Super Bowl.

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Qoojo's picture

January 14, 2020 at 06:39 pm

"LaFleur is convinced this is a different Packers team now, with players echoing that they’re ready for a rematch, and that this time they won’t “beat themselves” early"

I hope they realize that they are the same team and that they need a better game plan, along with playing better and eliminating the mistakes. Take all those long, or even medium, developing offensive plays out of the playbook until they show they can handle it the DL jailbreak.

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Guam's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:35 am

Part of that new game plan will be a healthy and well rested (three weeks off) Bulaga rather than Alex Light. Light was overwhelmed in that first game and was a big part of the breakdown of the Packer offense. SF is still the better team even with Bulaga back, but Bulaga will help give the Packers a reasonable shot.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Of course they are a different team 6 wins later. The rookies have learned the scheme and what it takes to play in the NFL. The rest of the group is more comfortable in LaFleur's offense. Adams is healthy. A.Jones has been preserved for the playoffs. BG picked up a veteran Tackle to fortify the O line. The absolute need for a PR/KR was answered with Ervin being fortuitously snagged when J-ville let him loose. All perfectly falling in place. Very similar to 2010. Don't give Santa Clara easy field position with turnovers or sp teams gaffs etc. Bash them and let them know you mean business.
How many playoff games has Garroppolo won?

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Sol's picture

January 14, 2020 at 06:44 pm

There has not been a game this year that has made me feel more like, this game will be won in the trenches. My dream play would be catch them off guard early because the have a years worth of data and know our tendency's and undoubtedly will be watching for them from the git go.

I would propose to do something radical for the first play. Max protect with two Tight Ends, make it look like a run and smell like a run, fake into the line with Aron Jones use motion to get our fastest receiver a running start and look for something deep or over the middle. Richard Sherman is there leader on the back-end, but he has a lot of mileage has defiantly lost a step and if we can exploit him early an often it could change the outcome and the way the game is played. For the first few series use the pass to set up the run and get them thinking. What's next our game plan isn't working. I am not the coach but it never hurts to dream a little. Gosh we are only one win or 60 minutes away from the dance.

Go Pack

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splitpea1's picture

January 14, 2020 at 08:16 pm

I don't think the Packers win without receivers not named Adams making big contributions. Sherman is still an excellent corner, but their other corner...there may be some opportunities there. I'll really be interested to see what the offensive game plan is; the pass rush needs to be neutralized with quick throws, but things that start in the backfield like screens are probably going to be swallowed up by that fast defense. Wherever the ball ends up going, I think the receivers are going to need to rack up some significant YAC.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Vikings had wide open looks ,but couldn't capitalize. Some of these fans do not realize who the Packers QB is.
Wouldn't be surprised to see LaFleur open with Four WRs to stress the CBs and take a shot early a' la Holmgren or the NFCCH game vs the Bears. Get an early lead.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 14, 2020 at 08:21 pm

I like the way you think and I totally agree. Time for the unexpected.

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porupack's picture

January 15, 2020 at 05:46 am

Yes, open up with unexpected up tempo pass attack. But, exploit Richard Sherman? You just wishing. Sherman would really enjoy such a plan.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:02 pm

He can be beaten over the top.

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Lare's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:36 am

The 49ers are going to do everything possible to neutralize Adams. The Packers need an offensive gameplan like they used earlier in the year when he was injured.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Scheme him open like LaFleur has done the past month. Just like Bill Walsh schemed Jerry Rice away from dbl and triple teams. Basic WCO. A lot of counter motion expected this week from LaFleur.

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Houndog's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:06 am

I agree and am all-in on an up-tempo, very creative, offensive game plan. We saw some of that early against Seattle.
BUT...........................
Trying to make a living going after Richard Sherman could be the beginning of an early exit. He's still 'one of the best' and he owns that 49er locker room, he won't let his team down.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

January 14, 2020 at 11:44 pm

This game isn't as one sided as you might think. Don't be so quick to jump on the Titanic. There are enough people on that ship already. Forget about that loss. Right now it means Nothing. What does mean Something is : Las Vegas is willing to give you at this point 7 1/2 points from a team who won their #1 seed by 1 inch, A team we beat with a Sick Squad, (all be it at Lambeau). It's too early to get serious here, but I'm already leaning towards GB the 1st Half +4. This is another SB for Las Vegas. There is a lot of Money to be made on this game. It's the game, I'm Convinced they wanted. What you have now, is most of California & Las Vegas betting on SF, & most of the rest of the country betting on GB. Wishful Thinking maybe??, but I feel GB is capable of beating any other team on the right day. Hard to tell where the money goes here. The whole country Loves GB. Getting 7 1/2 points is going to put a load of Cash on their backs. On the other hand, out here you would think SF is the only team in the league. I personally would like to see the Spread Drop. I'm Betting GB regardless. I'd feel better if the line would go to 6 or 6 1/2. This game isn't over yet.
LVT

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Houndog's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:16 am

I'll jump right on that, Tom!
And, what was that you said you did for a living?

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

January 15, 2020 at 07:52 pm

Hey Houndog, I retired 13 years ago, & I didn't say what I did for a living. I've done a lot of Football betting since the 80's. Lived in WI most of my life. I'm a Cheesehead. Sounds to me like you are a 49'er. This is a Tough game. You could very well be on the Right Side here. I've bet quite a few of these games over the years. Called a number of them on this post. I think I've been right a lot more than I've been wrong. I'm not guaranteeing a GB Win here, but I think they are capable of winning this game. I may be wrong. As I said, I'm betting GB regardless. I wheeled & dealed in Classic Cars, Records, Jukeboxes, Coke Machines, Gas Pumps & of coarse Football betting. Bought a Beautiful home here, Pool, Palm Trees, ect. sold my home in WI, & and now I'm just trying to enjoy what ever time I have left. I'll be 73, which isn't old but I'm not in the Best Of Health. Nothing would please me more than a GB Win on Sunday & in the SB. I could be wrong on the game, but So What?? I've won my share. Not quite sure what you meant by your post. Sounded like a Smart Assed Remark!! I still wish you luck, which ever way you are on the game. If GB pulls this one out, You'll be hearing from me again. I like Winning with Big Dogs. Good Luck!!
LVT

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

January 15, 2020 at 08:08 pm

P.S. I called the Seattle game last Sunday. Click on and read it. I'm sure you were on Seattle in that one too. Vegas doesn't make this easy. That was not an easy call, but it put a few more Bucks in my pocket. How about you??
LVT

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longjumper's picture

January 15, 2020 at 04:03 am

This site also has great Sporting News, Follow.

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Cheesey51's picture

January 15, 2020 at 09:39 am

What is up on Ravene Green? Did not notice him last weeks Divisional Playoff Game

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2020 at 01:09 pm

Inactive.

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