News now! Packers clinch playoff berth; NFC North on the line next week

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 21, 2014 – 2:47 pm

Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb

TAMPA — The Packers clinched a playoff spot for the sixth consecutive season with a 20-3 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

The win improved the Packers to 11-4 and set up a division-title showdown next week at Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions, whose game against the Chicago Bears was in the fourth quarter when the Green Bay game ended. The Lions’ result had no bearing on the NFC North race, which will come down to a winner-take-all meeting in Week 17, though both teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

The winner next week will enter the playoffs as the NFC North champions, while the loser will be a wild card. If the Packers win the division, they’ll be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the NFC and have a first-round bye.

To recap the fourth quarter Sunday, the Packers entered the final period ahead 10-3. They added to their lead on a drive that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. Five straight completions by QB Aaron Rodgers — two to WR Randall Cobb, two to WR Jordy Nelson and one to WR Davante Adams — picked up 31 yards. RB Eddie Lacy then converted a third-and-1 with a 6-yard run and FB John Kuhn followed with an 11-yard run.

The drive bogged down, however, as RB James Starks carried twice for 6 yards but was stopped short on a third-and-4 pass, leading to a 25-yard FG by K Mason Crosby. The three points put the Packers ahead 13-3 with 10:19 to go.

The Packers defense responded by allowing just one first down, and then LBs Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews sacked QB Josh McCown on back-to-back plays, forcing a punt. The sacks were the second on the day for each player. Matthews recorded his second straight two-sack game, while Peppers had his first two-sack game as a member of the Packers.

Matthews added another half-sack on the Buccaneers’ final drive of the game, giving the defense seven total sacks on the day, a season-high for Green Bay. That drive ended with an interception by DE Datone Jones, the first of his career.

Taking over with 6:47 left, the Packers offense got back to work moving the chains and killing clock. An 11-yard run by Kuhn was followed by a 16-yard pass to TE Andrew Quarless and a 30-yard catch-and-run by Cobb to get the ball to the Tampa Bay 20 with under four minutes to go. A 19-yard connection to Nelson moved it to the 1, and then Rodgers hit Nelson on a slant pass for the TD and a 20-3 lead with 2:45 left.

The pass completions to Cobb and Nelson put both players over 100 yards receiving in the same game for the second time this year (also vs. Philadelphia). Cobb posted career highs in both receptions and yards with 11 catches for 131 yards. Nelson had nine grabs for 113.

Rodgers finished 31-of-40 for 318 yards and a TD for a 108.1 passer rating.

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News now! Packers stopped on the goal line

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on December 21, 2014 – 2:03 pm

Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington sacks Buccaneers QB Josh McCownTAMPA–Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the Packers led the Bucs, 10-3, heading into the fourth quarter of today’s game at Raymond James Stadium.

Early in the third quarter, the Packers began a drive at their 33-yard line. Aaron Rodgers found Jordy Nelson on third down for 13 yards and a first down at the Packers 47. Rodgers followed with a 12-yard pass to Randall Cobb.

The Packers continued to mix run and pass, but the Bucs defense focused more intently on stopping Eddie Lacy. That opened the passing lanes, and Rodgers threw 15 yards to Cobb to the Tampa 23.

Another Rodgers-to-Cobb pass gained 15 to the 6-yard line. Lacy took the ball to the 1. Two plays later, John Kuhn was stopped for no gain, fourth-and-goal. Rodgers threw incomplete to Cobb and the score remained 10-3.

The Packers defense forced, yet, another punt, and the Packers offense got the ball back at its 37-yard line.


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News now! Bucs get on board with FG on final play of half

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 21, 2014 – 1:27 pm

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron RodgersTAMPA — Tampa Bay’s anemic offense finally got on the board on the final play of the first half with a field goal, and the Packers headed into the locker room with a 10-3 lead at intermission on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Packers missed a chance to add to their lead early in the second quarter. Passes of 8 yards to WR Davante Adams and 12 yards to WR Jordy Nelson picked up first downs, but on third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 30, QB Aaron Rodgers came up short on a pass for WR Randall Cobb. K Mason Crosby then missed a 48-yard FG try, wide left.

Green Bay’s defense responded with its fifth straight three-and-out to start the game. This one included a sack by Clay Matthews, the Packers’ second sack of the game. Those two sacks have accounted for minus-16 yards, leaving Tampa Bay with zero net yards after five drives.

Crosby made his next FG try, giving the Packers a 10-0 lead with 4:55 left in the half. A 24-yard pass to Cobb started the drive, RB Eddie Lacy carried twice for 10 yards, and then a 9-yard pass to Cobb got the offense into scoring territory. A third-down pass for Adams, though, was in his hands and knocked out by a big hit from Bucs S Dashon Goldson, forcing the FG try.

Tampa Bay recorded its initial first down of the game with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the half on a 13-yard pass to WR Mike Evans. The Bucs then threatened to score for the first time after a 40-yard completion to WR Vincent Jackson. Tampa Bay then picked up a first down at the Green Bay 20 on a fourth-and-1 run by RB Doug Martin. The Packers defense eventually held, though, as LB Julius Peppers sacked QB Josh McCown on third down, and the Bucs were forced to settle for a 42-yard FG by K Patrick Murray on the final play of the half.

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News now! Lacy scores late, Packers hold 7-0 lead

Posted by Vic Ketchman, editor on December 21, 2014 – 12:44 pm

Packers RB Eddie Lacy

TAMPA–Through one quarter of Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium, the Packers defense had yet to allow a first down and the Packers offense overcame a slow start to score late in the quarter and take a 7-0 lead.

The Packers won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Following an exchange of punts, the Packers put the ball in play at their 28-yard line. A third-down pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson gained 28 yards to the Bucs 36-yard line.

Two plays later, Rodgers was sacked by Michael Johnson. It was ruled no fumble had occurred, but the Bucs challenged the ruling and won. The recovery put the ball in the Bucs’ possession at their 45-yard line, but the Packers defense forced a second consecutive three-and-out.

Near the end of the first half, Rodgers completed a pass to Nelson for 24 yards to the Packers 39. The Packers crossed midfield with 1:40 to play in the half. Shortly after, Lacy struck the first blow of the game, running 44 yards for a touchdown with :50 to play in the half. The run put Lacy over a thousand yards rushing for the season.

A 5-yard pass was the Bucs’ longest play of the quarter.



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