Game Recap: Packers Beat Rams 32-18, Advance to NFC Championship

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ divisional playoff win over the Rams.          

For the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career, the Green Bay Packers will host the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field. The Packers opened their playoff run with an impressive 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams Saturday afternoon at Lambeau Field.

The Packers’ defense was the first to get a shot at things in this one and they delivered. Green Bay forced a three and out so fast that, if you were finishing up grabbing a beer and a snack for the game at kickoff, you just may have missed it. Linebacker Preston Smith tipped Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff’s pass on third down to force the quick punt.

The offense, just as they have all season, came out swinging on their first drive. With help from quick first downs from wide receiver Davante Adams, running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Packers found their rhythm quickly and didn’t look back.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was locked in from the jump and caught the Rams on a substitution for a free play. Rodgers, the notorious free play king, capitalized on the free play and connected with wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for a 27-yard play. Despite their efficiency in the red/gold zone all season, the Packers couldn’t get 7 on the board and had to settle for a field goal and the 3-0 lead.

Los Angeles then responded with a field goal of their own to tie the game at 3-3. The Rams started to find something on their next drive with back-to-back plays over the middle for 28- and 19-yard gains but fell victim to a false start penalty on 4th and 1.

No worries for Green Bay though. The Packers responded with a monstrous 7:59 drive that extended 14 plays and 84 yards (ESPN stats) and was easily their most impressive outing of the day. With first downs from all three running backs- Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon and Jones- the Packers then bought themselves a few extra yards, following an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Rams. Guard Elgton Jenkins frustrated the hell out of defensive tackle Aaron Donald and bought the Packers free yards after Donald grabbed his facemask after the play.

From there, Rodgers connected with wide receiver Allen Lazard for a first down to put Green Bay in scoring position. This time, Green Bay capitalized on the opportunity too. Rodgers motioned Adams over before the snap and he quickly slipped in the endzone to make a 1-yard touchdown catch, with cornerback Jalen Ramsey looking furious he couldn’t keep up with him, to give the Packers a 10-3 lead.  

The defense continued to do its thing in the first half, forcing another Rams punt after linebacker Za’Darius Smith secured a sack and fellow linebacker Christian Kirksey made a strong stand on third down.

Then, Green Bay really started to have some fun. After back-to-back first downs from Jones and MVS, Adams found himself winning his one-on-one battle with Ramsey again, setting up Williams for yet another first down conversion on the play. Then, the old man Rodgers joined in on the parade and scrambled for a 1-yard touchdown to extend Green Bay’s lead. The Packers botched the snap on the extra point, so they’d have to settle for a 16-3 lead.

With just a few minutes remaining in the first half, the Rams weren’t going down without a fight. Running back Cam Akers ran all over the Packers on their next drive and, before you could even blink, Los Angeles was in scoring position after a pair of nice catches over the middle of the field. They took advantage, cutting Green Bay’s lead to 16-10.

With 29 seconds left in the half and two timeouts left, the Packers tried to finish things off rather aggressively in the first half of this divisional matchup. Rodgers quickly connected with Adams off a 21-yard pass and then quickly connected with tight end Robert Tonyan for 33 yards and a first down. Rodgers, doing his best Brett Favre impression, fired two quick shots in the endzone but both were almost picked off and the Packers looked to kicker Mason Crosby to hit a 39-yard field goal to give them a 19-10 lead at halftime.

Once again, if you were grabbing a snack during halftime and missed the first few seconds of the second half, you missed something big. Jones busted through Los Angeles’ line for a 60-yard run to open the half and immediately put Green Bay in the gold zone. After a first down from Williams, Jones finished what he started on the drive and pushed into the endzone for a 1-yard score. The Packers attempted a two-point conversion and came up short, so they extended their lead to 25-10.

Just as they did in the first half, the defense opened the second half with a three and out. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark and linebacker Rashan Gary teamed up for a sack on third down to put the ball back in the Packers’ hands.

Then, things took a bit of a turn. After connecting with Lazard for a 21-yard pass play, Rodgers overthrew a deep ball to MVS with what would’ve surely been a touchdown. Then, Lazard dropped another pass that would’ve been a touchdown and Green Bay couldn’t connect on third down and was forced to punt.

After the Packers failed to put this one away, the Rams took advantage of the momentum shift and punished the Packers on their next drive. They shifted away from Akers and the run game and allowed Goff to just sling it and were successful at doing so. Once they hit the red zone, Akers led the way off a wildcat play and rushed 7-yards for a touchdown. Los Angeles went for two as well and got it after a nifty play call to cut Green Bay’s lead to 25-18.

The momentum shift continued to haunt the Packers on their next drive, and they were, once again, forced to punt. However, when the Packers needed the D-train to step up the most they answered the call. Clark was there again to make a big play and forced a sack on second down that led to a 3rd and 16 play Green Bay covered well.

On perhaps the most crucial drive of the season, the offense started to connect again. After an early heart attack following a fumble from Dillion, Rodgers connected with MVS who converted a veteran-style first down play. Then, after dropping a touchdown pass earlier in the half, Lazard redeemed himself with a 58-yard touchdown play to give us our final score of 32-18.  

Clark and Gary came up huge to close the game out after sacking Goff on fourth down.

 

What we learned: The Packers Won Their Matchups

All week, the noise surrounding this divisional game centered around one thing: the matchups.

Davante Adams vs. Jalen Ramsey

Elgton Jenkins vs. Aaron Donald

#1 Offense vs. #1 Defense  

You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about these storylines and rightfully so. However, the Packers dominated on every front they needed to, to win this game.

Adams continuously beat Ramsey (even staring him down after one play) and finished the day with a team high 9 receptions for 66 yards (ESPN stats). Elgton Jenkins, with help from his teammates on the o-line, outplayed the NFL’s best defensive player and Green Bay allowed zero sacks on the day. And, the Packers put up 484 total yards and 32 points on offense against the league’s best defense (ESPN stats).

 

What went right:  Utilizing all 3 Running Backs

For the first time all season, the Packers let Jones, Williams and Dillon loose. The result? Good things for Green Bay. Jones led the day with 14 carries for 99 yards and 1 touchdown, Williams had 12 carries for 65 yards and Dillon had 6 carries for 27 yards (ESPN stats).

With three weapons like this in its backfield arsenal, as long as the injury Dillon suffered on the fumble play isn’t serious, teams are going to have their hands full trying to figure out how to stop all three running backs in The Frozen Tundra.

 

What went wrong: The 3rd Quarter & The 3-Man Rush

I guess the number 3 is just the Packers’ unlucky number because between the third quarter of this game and the three-man rush, I think Green Bay fans were starting to lose it.

Besides the big Jones run to open the half, the Packers struggled badly in the third quarter of this matchup. They couldn’t get on the board after that opening drive and the defense started to really struggle, mainly as a result of the three-man rush.

As the Packers prepare to face off with either the Bucs or the Saints next week, they must be plugged in for all four quarters if they want a shot at the Super Bowl.

 

Offensive MVP: Aaron Rodgers

The MVP chants at Lambeau Field were ringing loud and proud on Saturday- as they should be. Aaron Rodgers put on another stunning performance in this matchup and made the NFL’s top defense look silly numerous times. According to ESPN stats, Rodgers finished the day going 23/36 for 296 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and a 1 rushing touchdown.

 

Defensive MVPs:  Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary

Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary are a truly terrifying duo for teams to face off against and they delivered for the Packers on Saturday. Gary finished with 3 total tackles on the day, 2 of which were solo, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss and 3 QB hits. Clark also finished with 3 total tackles, 1 being solo, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss and 2 QB hits (ESPN stats).

 

A look at some of your takeaways!

  • “Loved the game plan, wanted to see a little more pressure on Goff from Pettine, but can't complain with the outcome. Too many drops. Liked seeing all the RBs involved early. We've got a special squad this year.” - @AhhhBROTHERS
  • “Great pressure with 4 today. Best corner on the field wore 23.” - @JoshJoshgiese
  • “We goin’ to the Chip!  Amazing game!!! #GoPackGo” - @eric_olson7
  • “JOY.” - @Sandro_46

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers host either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the New Orleans Saints for the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field. Go Pack Go!

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (37)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:14 pm

Thanks for the great recap Sarah. What a great game.

God I hate the three man rush. It almost never works. I'm just dumbfounded Pettine keeps using it.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:35 pm

And all Mike Pettine does is put this team in position to win. (And they played two DL for most of the fourth quarter)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:46 pm

I'm not complaining overall. He has improved massively over the course of this season.

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Coldworld's picture

January 16, 2021 at 11:38 pm

I’d argue that he keeps going away from what we are good at. Fortunate he came back to it after the 2nd and 3rd quarters and that shut them down in the 4th. Had he not gone conservative, I don’t think this would be close as long as it was.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 17, 2021 at 02:08 pm

Nah. Rams are a good team. McVay is a smart coach who went up tempo and force the Packers to keep that sub package on the field. Pettine went to a 2-5-5 and had his secondary playing combo zone man to all man in the fourth. Our athletes vs their athletes in the final 9:00 minutes. Gutsy call.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:33 pm

"Adams continuously beat Ramsey (even staring him down after one play) and finished the day with a team high 9 receptions for 66 yards (ESPN stats)."

9 receptionts and 1 TD for 66 total yards is holding Adams pretty much in check. Gotta hand it to the Rams, and Ramsey. They did that part of the job. Of course, their DL got absolutely owned by our OL so it didn't matter.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:47 pm

With all due respect, 9 receptions and a td against what is arguably the best shut down corner in the league is not what most would consider holding anything in check.
I could be wrong though.

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Thegravedigger's picture

January 16, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Meanwhile, on jaire alexander island, nothing happened. Again. One pass thrown his way. For about minus 4 yards. Can jaire get some love??

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Bure9620's picture

January 17, 2021 at 06:51 am

Maybe the most undervalued player in the league. Jaire has been sensational this year. He is about get a BIG contract.....

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HankScorpio's picture

January 17, 2021 at 07:24 am

Alexander looked like he was shot out of cannon to drop that WR screen. He does a lot of things well. Blowing up WR screens is one of his best skills. I'll never forget him throwing Adam Theilen into Stephon Diggs to drop Diggs last season.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 17, 2021 at 01:51 am

You are not wrong. When Ramsey's "greatness" is touted, they talk more about the number of completions he allows, and also the TDs. He was good today, not great. An elite receiver exposed him.

Jaire was great.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 17, 2021 at 03:47 am

I generally agree: Ramsey did enough to make it necessary for other Packers to step up in order to beat the Rams. I do have to note that Davante Adams was very efficient: 9 receptions on 11 targets (10 targets officially because one INC was erased by Donald's personal foul after the play was over). 4 receptions went for first downs or a TD, and three others put GB in great down and distance situations: 12 yard reception on 2nd and 14, and 7 and 8 yards on 1st and 10. I can find just the INC and one other pass that would not be considered a successful plays for the Packers when Davante was targeted.

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buddrow53's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:51 pm

This team reminds me of the St Louis Rams with Warner Faulk Holt Bruce fun to watch offense. GPG

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Rossonero's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:31 pm

Me too. I know Marshall Faulk was legendary, but the way Jones runs, his balance, his agility, his toughness and versatility, he's really underrated. People told Faulk he should play CB in college, but San Diego State gave him a shot. Like Faulk, Jones wound up at a smaller school like UTEP, but balled out. Unfortunately, like Faulk, Jones will be on another team next season. I just hope it's in the AFC and not the NFC.

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canadapacker's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:11 pm

As much as AR controlled the game - I have seen him more accurate with his throws - even Adams TD was just above the grass and was a hard catch. And several to Tonyon were slightly behind. Now it is funny how drops can change the momentum - Lazards drop goes from being at minimum a long gain - maximum a TD - and was not a hard catch - and as far as I was concerned dont know how grabbing MVS arm when he was trying to catch the ball is a good NON call. If that is not PI dont know what is. At least the refs didnt call a bunch of ticky tacky holding and there was a lot of it on both sides. But Tonyon - you gotta stop doing that - it is almost an automatic flag. Finally glad Lazard got a chance to redeem himself - MVS has been given those redeeming shots as well and they deserve them because it is football. Hope Dillon is ok - he is in the learning curve and it was either a bad handoff or a poor job of securing the handoff - but no harm done. He will learn from it - but before that play he had some nice bashing runs - but hard to beat Williams on those short yardage runs in this game.

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Lphill's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:25 pm

I just don't didn't like when the Rams scored how quick and easy it looked , 3 man rush with no deep threat to worry about and 1 linebacker in on running downs , it just makes no sense .

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Lphill's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:27 pm

Didn't seem like much Snacks Harrison but we will wait for the snap counts.

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Rossonero's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:32 pm

I was wondering that too. Seemed like he didn't play at all. Perhaps the Rams no huddle offense was too fast to rotate Snacks in there. Very strange.

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Coldworld's picture

January 16, 2021 at 11:40 pm

Yet they had time to get Price in.

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Thegravedigger's picture

January 16, 2021 at 10:51 pm

Yeah. No cooper cupp. No true num one wr. Why not press a bit more??

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stockholder's picture

January 17, 2021 at 08:21 am

Sense = 2 for 8 on 3 down conversions. The Hurry up offense was effective against the safeties and ILbs. Martin got hurt, and Lowrey played more snaps then normal. Not to mention Redmond. You saw the middle attacked. This Defense needs Martin! His thumb injury slowed him down.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 17, 2021 at 04:54 pm

Barnes

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:56 pm

The Packers' offense put on a SHOW. The defense has real playmakers at every level. This is a Super Bowl team, no doubt.

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Mojo's picture

January 16, 2021 at 10:44 pm

I suggest the hot potato missed extra point with J.K Scott tossing to Crosby be taken out of the play book.

I can just imagine Crosby to Scott afterwords - " Thanks, thanks a lot."

3 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

January 17, 2021 at 12:19 am

The defense did a good job, but the Rams made many uneasy when they made it a one score game and easily. It looked like the momentum was about to change, though short-lived, thankfully.

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Mojo's picture

January 17, 2021 at 12:52 am

The important question is, who will Jake from State Farm favor if both the Chiefs and GB make the SB?

Sure he'll give both QB's the same great rate, but who does he really like better.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 17, 2021 at 01:17 am

What a dominant performance by the OL. 484 total yard with 188 on the ground. I even thought they left a little on the field. Rodgers was a touch off his norm.

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Philarod's picture

January 17, 2021 at 05:38 am

Not sure if "a touch off".
Three catchable passes were dropped (one apiece for AL, ESB and MVS) on the first drive - none were easy, none were especially difficult. At least one was a TD.

Factor in Lazard's probable TD on a perfect throw, and now Rodgers has 4 TD passes (and a TD run, and fumble recovery), at least two more completions and 50 more yards, and (I'm guessing) a passer rating somewhere between 135 and 140. Against a great D, and with only one top-notch WR.

I know that standards are high for the best to ever play the position, but c'mon...

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HankScorpio's picture

January 17, 2021 at 07:31 am

That's what I meant. "Catchable" is not his norm. Guys usually don't have to make big adjustments or reach behind them. Often, he's putting it in places as if he had a laser guidance system. It's definitely a higher standard than any mere mortal throwing the ball. I did not say he played bad. Just an observation that he didn't play his best.

Did you think that was his best?

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Philarod's picture

January 17, 2021 at 02:06 pm

I think he played at a very high level.
Really, the only poor throw was the deep sideline throw to MVS that sailed out of bounds.
And, a great, quick drive before halftime almost got wiped out by an INT.

Overall, A-minus, if harsh B-plus.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 17, 2021 at 03:39 pm

Fair enough. Obviously it was a comfortable win with big yards and points vs the #1 defense. I can certainly agree that doesn't happen without the QB doing a lot of really good things.

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Cubbygold's picture

January 17, 2021 at 05:32 am

I have a question for people that understand the game at a deeper level. At one point Goff was 18/20 for 150+ yards and maybe a TD or two. What part of the defense was failing? I understand the 3 man rush didn't help, but that wasn't the whole issue. The rams missing Kupp made them less intimidating in the passing game, was surprised to see how successful they were

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Johnblood27's picture

January 17, 2021 at 07:33 am

Answer:

weak coverage over the middle and Kevin King.

Those were the areas exposed when the Rams were moving the ball.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 17, 2021 at 07:36 am

I don't know that anything really did fail on the defense. They held the Rams to under 20 points and 300 yards. That's a winning effort on defense in today's NFL, IMO.

1 points
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murf7777's picture

January 17, 2021 at 10:03 am

My belief is when we figured out quickly we could run the ball and score on them the decision was to allow the short yardage catches and keep them from YAC and big plays downfield. If I’m correct the plan worked to perfection.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 17, 2021 at 02:32 pm

Like Murph said, the decision was to limit the Ram's long game early on. Geoff isn't usually that good in the short game. Finding the voids in the zone is hard for any QB. But he did, give him credit. Packer's decision tree on defense seemed to be 1) cover the gaps in the LOS with the Smith Bros and Gray. 2) Slide down the edge and force the Rams RB inside where he could be stacked up. 3) Put both Slot/SS in the box and jam up the Rams TE at the LOS to cut away blockers. 4) Play both CB on an island and dare the Rams WR to beat them deep. (with Savage playing one high) TV leads a constricted view, but it looks like Pettine thought he could matchup across the LOS and win. And, he did.

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tonys247's picture

January 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

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