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Green Bay Packers stave off Seattle Seahawks, advance to NFC title game

Aaron Rodgers passes for two TDs to Davante Adams as Green Bay breaks out to a 21-3 halftime lead but has to withstand Russell Wilson’s second-half comeback.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson grimaces as he's sacked by Packers linebacker Preston Smith late in the fourth quarter of their NFC division-round playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. [MATT LUDTKE  |  AP]
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson grimaces as he's sacked by Packers linebacker Preston Smith late in the fourth quarter of their NFC division-round playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. [MATT LUDTKE | AP]
Published Jan. 13
Updated Jan. 13

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers connected with Davante Adams eight times for a Packers playoff-record 160 yards and two touchdowns, the spruced-up defense fended off a spirited Seahawks rally, and Green Bay held on for a 28-23 victory Sunday night to reach the NFC Championship Game for the third time in six years.

Aaron Jones rushed for 62 yards and two first-half scores for the Packers (14-3), who will play at the top-seeded 49ers at 6:30 next Sunday. They met in November, a 37-8 romp for the Niners.

“I think there’s a lot to learn,” Packers first-year coach Matt LaFleur said of that first meeting. “First of all, that’s a really good football team, and we know that we are going to have to be at our absolute best in order to compete with them. And I think, unfortunately, last time for whatever reason, we weren’t.”

Green Bay and San Francisco’s postseason history includes some tight games. They will be meeting in the playoffs for the eighth time, all since 1995. Green Bay leads 4-3.

“This is where it really gets fun. There’s only four teams left, and we’re one of them, and we’ve got a legitimate chance,” said Rodgers, who went 16-for-27 for 243 yards in his 17th career postseason start. He has 38 touchdown passes in the playoffs, fifth in league history.

Adams’ catches were all for a first down.

“He had an unbelievable night, carried us on offense,’’ Rodgers said of Adams. ”His route-running ability is just unbelievable.’’

Russell Wilson carried the Seahawks (12-6) on yet another comeback, this time from a 21-3 halftime deficit, but the Packers forced a punt shortly before the two-minute warning on the second sack of the game by Preston Smith. That was Green Bay’s fifth of the game.

The Seahawks never got the ball again.

Twins Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin, both former Lakewood High and UCF standouts, combined to sack Rodgers on third down for what officially goes down as Shaquem’s first NFL sack, which gave the Seahawks their last possession.

“I couldn’t be happier for our guys,” LaFleur said. “They’re a group that sticks together, and they don’t blink.”

Rodgers sealed the win with two third-down throws: a 32-yard strike to Adams on third and 8 with 2:19 left and then for 9 yards to Jimmy Graham on third and 9 right after the two-minute warning.

Seattle was 8-1 on the road entering the game.

“I’m just going to enjoy a nice glass of scotch tonight,” Rodgers said, “and get on to the film of San Fran and get ready for a tough opponent.”

Though many of Green Bay’s performances haven’t been pretty, with so many hold-on-at-the-end wins, Rodgers and LaFleur have meshed well.

“Let’s be honest. I don’t know that even our fans felt supremely confident in us,” Rodgers said.

The Seahawks had just a plus-seven scoring margin during the regular season, making quite the habit of second-half rallies. Wilson did some of the finest work of his eight-year career in 2019, helping the Seahawks stay on track despite a steady stream of injuries, including the late setbacks in the backfield that prompted the emergency call for Marshawn Lynch.

Racking up 64 yards rushing on seven scrambles and completing 21 of 31 passes for 277 yards, Wilson directed touchdown drives of 69, 84, 79 right out of the gate after halftime. Lynch finished two of the drives with scores, and Wilson threw to Tyler Lockett for the other one.

Lynch’s second touchdown with 9:33 left cut the lead to 28-23, but the two-point conversion failed.

Lynch, who has 12 rushing touchdowns in 13 career postseason games to tie for fourth all time, had 26 yards on 12 carries.

FORCEFUL FIRST HALF

The Seahawks brought their pass rush to life with seven sacks while grinding out a 17-9 win at Philadelphia last week in the wild-card round, with Jadeveon Clowney making his presence felt including a hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of the game with a concussion. The Packers mostly kept Rodgers much better protected.

The Packers had three touchdown drives of 75 yards apiece over the first three quarters, plus a 60-yard march preceded by a missed 50-yard field goal try from Jason Myers.

Rodgers hasn’t had much help beyond Adams and Jones this season, but he and LaFleur did a masterful job of getting them the ball with some Tyler Ervin and Graham mixed in. On the opening possession, Adams and former Spoto High standout Geronimo Allison ran angled routes toward each other before faking the pick and zagging away. Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers was caught in the confusion, allowing Adams to break free for the 20-yard score.

OH, NO, LAMBEAU

Seahawks fans have plenty of bad memories of their favorite team’s performances in Green Bay, with the losing streak at Lambeau Field now at nine straight games. The last such win for Seattle was on Nov. 1, 1999.

There was the hot mike that picked up Matt Hasselbeck’s ill-fated boast during the overtime coin toss that the Seahawks would win, preceding his pick-six in the 2003 playoffs. There was the blowout in the snow in the 2007 playoffs, which turned out to be Brett Favre’s final win for the Packers. There were also regular-season losses with Wilson in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

INJURY REPORT

Seahawks: LG Mike Iupati was out with a neck injury, and Jamarco Jones left in the second quarter with a concussion. That forced rookie Phil Haynes into action. ... Clowney, who has fought through a core muscle injury this season, was holding his midsection in the second quarter and briefly absent for the first TD run by Jones. ... Backup DEs Ziggy Ansah (neck) and L.J. Collier were inactive, and DE Quinton Jefferson left with a foot injury in the third quarter.

Packers: RT Bryan Bulaga, one of six players the team reported this week as being limited by illness, was active for but did not play. Jared Veldheer replaced him. ... FB Danny Vitale (ankle/illness) was inactive. ... WR Allen Lazard hurt his ankle in the second quarter after Jones collided with the back of his right leg.

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Head into the offseason needing replenish their depth on the offensive line and on defense while Wilson remains in his prime.

Packers: Advance to their third NFC title game in six years.

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