Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Packers ready for title showdown

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers are back in familiar territory, so close to another NFC North title.

Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson are combining to shred secondaries. The defense is creating turnovers.

It's hard to believe this same team was once 4-6.

But the Packers won their fifth straight, riding a big-play passing attack and an opportunistic defense in a 38-25 victory Saturday over the Vikings. Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four scores, and Green Bay cashed in on two Minnesota turnovers with touchdown drives.

Next up is a winner-take-all showdown next week with the Lions for the division title. The Packers currently hold an NFC wild-card spot that the Bucs are also chasing.

"We're planning on going to Detroit to win the division," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Merry Christmas."

The win also extinguished the Vikings' faint postseason hopes. Their hopes to repeat as division champs were already gone.

A 5-0 start to the year was wasted.

"I think when you look at it there were just a lot of mistakes, self-inflicted wounds and they came back to bite us and we weren't able to overcome those at times," quarterback Sam Bradford said.

The Packers have thrived after their own adversity, notably a midseason four-game losing streak.

Nelson had 154 yards total and touchdowns of 21 and 2 yards in the first half. The receiver found seams in Minnesota's defense despite the return of safety Harrison Smith from an ankle injury.

Green Bay built a 28-13 lead at halftime, with Rodgers accounting for all four scores. He finished 28-of-38 and shrugged off his right calf injury after scrambling for a 6-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and making a rare Lambeau Leap .

"Once I got moving, I felt like myself," said Rodgers, adding that the sore calf is getting better.

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Published: 01/20/18