EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—The Packers hoped that by the time they landed in Green Bay on Sunday night, they would officially have been crowned NFC North champions, which would leave them with two remaining goals in what’s left of the regular season: homefield advantage for the playoffs and an undefeated record.
“When we have homefield advantage, I’ll be ready, locked and loaded to talk about it,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of a possible 16-0 regular-season record.
The Packers raised their record to 12-0 on Sunday with a thrilling, 38-35 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, following a walk-off, 30-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Crosby’s kick capped a five-play, 68-yard drive that began with 58 seconds left to play and rallied the Packers following a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion by the Giants threatened to send the game into overtime.
“Two-minute drive is something we practice every week. It’s something Aaron Rodgers does an excellent job of. We haven’t had that situation come up in a long time. Classic two-minute drive. I thought it was awesome,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers was the Packers’ star again, on a day when the defense allowed 447 yards of offense and was unable to protect an eight-point lead with 3:34 to play. Playing without starting linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk, the Packers also lost star cornerback Charles Woodson to a concussion late in the game.
The Packers quarterback overcame it all, including one of the rare interceptions he’s thrown this season. Rodgers threw for 369 yards, four touchdowns and a 106.2 passer rating. Most importantly, he played his best when it counted the most.
Rodgers also overcame a rash of dropped passes. At crunch time, he turned to Jordy Nelson, who is rapidly becoming Rodgers’ favorite receiver, and the two hooked up on a 27-yard completion that put the Packers solidly into game-winning field goal range.
“We dropped some passes but we caught them when they counted,” McCarthy said. “This wasn’t our best game. Adversity win. Fun game to watch.”
Green Bay moved out to a 28-17 lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Greg Jennings in the third quarter. Jennings bobbled the ball but the call was upheld by replay review.
“The ball bounced our way, definitely,” McCarthy said of a host of officiating calls that favored the Packers.
"I’m very pleased with the way we produced in the clutch. It’s a talented group and it’s a resilient group. That’s part of the reason we’re 12-0.”
Left on the schedule are home games against the Raiders, Lions and Bears, and a game in Kansas City. Sunday’s win over the Giants might’ve been the Packers’ most difficult hurdle in their quest for a perfect season.
The Giants mounted a consistent pass-rush on Rodgers, though they were only able to sack him twice. Rodgers led the Packers in rushing with 32 yards on four scrambles.
Quarterback counterpart Eli Manning threw for 347 yards, three touchdowns and a 100.7 passer rating that threatened to match Rodgers for the first time by an opposing starting quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger outpointed Rodgers late in the 2009 season.
It was a pick-six interception by linebacker Clay Matthews that stained Manning’s performance and tipped the game in the Packers’ favor, turning a 10-7 deficit into a 14-10 lead in the second quarter.
“Our offense got it done,” McCarthy said.
Most of all, Rodgers got it done.
“I’m running out of things to say about him,” the coach added. Additional coverage - Dec. 4