GREEN BAY—According to Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a message earlier this week for the youngest Packers playing in their first playoff game.
“He told the rookies to just keep doing what they’ve been doing, and this game is no bigger than any game we’ve played yet,” Sitton said. “It was just the next game.”
Undaunted by the moment, a pair of rookies – receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers – came up big on Sunday, scoring Green Bay’s two second-half touchdowns in a 26-21 NFC divisional playoff win over the Cowboys at Lambeau Field.
Adams had a monster game when all the talk was about how he had supposedly hit the rookie wall. Coming into the playoffs with just four catches in the last four games, including nary a throw his direction in the division-clinching win over Detroit, Adams had seven grabs for 117 yards, the most catches and receiving yards by a Green Bay rookie in playoff history.
The magnitude of his contribution can’t be overstated, especially on a day leading receiver Jordy Nelson was held to just two catches for 22 yards. Adams’ plays were also as clutch as they get.
With the Packers trailing, 21-13, late in the third quarter and facing third-and-15, Aaron Rodgers found him over the middle for the first down. Even better, Adams put a move in the open field on Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox, cut back and outraced the Dallas defense for a 46-yard touchdown.
“He actually checked out of the first play, and I guess he saw the middle of the field was open,” Adams said of his QB. “I just had to widen my guy and get in there quick, and Aaron put it right on me.
“I tried to lull (Wilcox) to sleep and get outside and then get to the pylon.”
In the fourth quarter, Adams then added an 18-yard catch to get the Packers across midfield, five snaps before the Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection for a 13-yard TD on a laser-like throw between defenders.
“He made eye contact with me and just threw it,” the rookie tight end said. “The window closed pretty fast, so it was a pretty hard throw.”
It looked like a pretty hard catch, too, but it gave the Packers the lead for the first time since an early 7-0 advantage.
“You put a ball anywhere near Richard, I feel like he’s going to catch it,” Sitton said. “He doesn’t get a ton of opportunities, but when he does, he’s making plays.”
That was Rodgers’ only reception on the day, but Adams wasn’t done.
With the offense trying to run the final 4:06 off the clock, Adams caught a quick hitch on third-and-3, shook a tackle attempt by Cowboys cornerback Sterling Moore and turned it into a 26-yard gain with just over two minutes left.
After the game, Adams said his quarterback told him he was proud of him, especially given his lack of action over the final month of the regular season.
“He said that’s what good players do, make sure they stick in there and step up in big games,” Adams said.
The drama wasn’t done, however. Adams’ final catch-and-run set the stage for the game-sealing first down just after the two-minute warning.
This time, the Packers went to an old reliable, and Randall Cobb made a diving catch for 12 yards to convert on third-and-11.
“He’s a closer,” Adams said. “Did the same thing for us against the Patriots.”
Yeah, except this time the pass was actually deflected at the line of scrimmage and somehow still fluttered to an area Cobb could get to it.
“Unbelievable, for the ball to get tipped and magically appear in my area,” said Cobb, who finished with eight catches for 116 yards. “You can’t tell me there’s not a God. That was a crazy play.”
Cobb then went a little crazy with his celebration, admitting “I lost my mind” and drawing a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty, but it didn’t matter. The Cowboys were out of timeouts and the Packers could kneel it out to earn their first trip to the NFC title game since 2010.
That will be a trip to Seattle and another crack at the defending Super Bowl champions after an unsuccessful visit back in Week 1.
“It’s going to be one of those games for the ages,” Cobb said.
Not to say this one wasn’t. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE