Green Bay refuse to die as play-offs loom

The Green Bay Packers needed their biggest comeback in history on Sunday to somehow keep their play-off hopes alive ahead of the long-awaited return of Aaron Rodgers from injury.

Green Bay refuse to die as play-offs loom

Replacement quarterback Matt Flynn threw four second half touchdowns before running back Eddie Lacy ran in from the one-yard line with under two minutes left to round off a thrilling 37-36 win at the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas squandered a huge lead at home as quarterback Tony Romo threw two interceptions in the dying minutes, leaving their own post-season hopes in the balance.

“It took me everything not to cry,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy afterwards. “I’m just drained. Just the sheer emotion. It was incredible.”

The NFC North and East Divisions are now wide open with the injury-depleted Minnesota Vikings enjoying a surprising 48-30 victory at home to the Philadelphia Eagles who entered the game on a five-game winning streak.

Jay Cutler returned from injury for the Chicago Bears and immediately threw a pair of interceptions but managed to recover his composure and lead his side to a vital 38-31 win at the Cleveland Browns.

The Seattle Seahawks hammered the New York Giants 23-0 in the Meadowlands in New Jersey where they will hope to return for the Super Bowl in February.

With the New Orleans Saints surprisingly losing 27-16 at the St Louis Rams, the Seahawks now just need a win to secure home advantage throughout the play-offs.

The Saints’ NFC South rivals, the Carolina Panthers, bounced back from their loss in New Orleans last week and took care of the New York Jets with a 30-20 victory.

Carolina hold one of the play-off wild cards and the in-form San Francisco 49ers have the other after they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 while just one game behind them are the Arizona Cardinals who won in overtime against the Tennessee Titans — Jay Feely kicking a 41-yard field goal to seal a hard-fought 37-34 victory.

Meanwhile, three of the top four teams in the AFC all lost. After the Denver Broncos lost their Thursday game against the play-off hunting San Diego Chargers, both the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals failed to take advantage. While watching his main rivals struggle, there was a little bit of extra consolation for Peyton Manning who was named the Sport Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

Despite the best efforts of Tom Brady, the Miami Dolphins held on for a dramatic 24-20 victory at home to the Patriots, presenting Miami with a big opportunity to make a push for the play-offs with two weeks to go in the regular season.

The Kansas City Chiefs managed to secure their passage thanks mainly to a stunning performance from their running back Jamaal Charles who scored five touchdowns in a 56-31 win over the Oakland Raiders.

The Cincinnati Bengals were tamed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing 30-20 in the late game while the Indianapolis Colts got back to winning ways at home to Houston — Andrew Luck throwing two touchdown passes in a 25-3 victory.

Meanwhile, Atlanta beat Washington 27-26 and Buffalo overcame Jacksonville 27-20 while the late Monday night game pitted play-off chasing teams, the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions against each other.

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