The Green Bay Packers will face the Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game after a thrilling weekend in the NFL play-offs.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers battled through injury to deny the brave Dallas Cowboys in an entertaining contest that went almost to the wire, Green Bay coming from behind and eventually holding on with a five point winning margin.
Rodgers threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns but praised the performances of his running back Eddie Lacey and rookie wide receiver Devonte Adams who starred with a touchdown and 117 yards, his score proving crucial at the end of the third quarter, bringing the Packers to within a point of the visitors. The winning score arrived in the final quarter courtesy of tight end Richard Rodgers.
“It was tight all game,” the winning quarterback said after, while confirming he had not tested out his leg much in the run-up to this one. “I was able to do a couple of moments in the pocket to help us out.”
Just a week after benefiting from a refereeing decision in their previous win, the Cowboys were denied a late chance to regain the lead when a catch for first down by wide receiver Dez Bryant was reversed by a video review, thus handing possession back to the home team.
Seattle will be confident as they welcome Green Bay next Sunday after a clinical 31-17 win on Saturday against the Carolina Panthers.
Russell Wilson was in electric form once again throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns while Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to end the Panthers’ hopes of a comeback.
“It’s exciting but the job is not done. There is still a lot more to do,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, in Saturday’s AFC Divisional game at Foxborough, Tom Brady inspired the New England Patriots to a thrilling comeback victory, beating the Baltimore Ravens 35-31.
The veteran quarterback was as calm and productive as ever in spite of the home team and AFC favourites twice finding themselves 14 points behind against an impressive Baltimore Ravens side.
For the fourth year in a row, the Pats will move onto the AFC decider — which takes place next Sunday — and will enjoy home advantage when they face the winners of the late Sunday night game between the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts.
“Behind twice by 14 wasn’t necessarily in the plan,” Brady said afterwards. “It took a lot of execution to overcome it.”
Three touchdown passes by Brady and another trick play involving wide receiver Julian Edelman, a former college quarterback. Brady threw a backward pass wide to his left to Edelman who turned and found Danny Amendola behind the coverage for the touchdown.
The decisive game winning score arrived with just five minutes to go when Brady led his team down the field, eventually finding Brandon LaFell whose touchdown put the Patriots in front for the first time. The Ravens rallied but New England stood firm.
Brady completed 33 of 50 passes for 367 yards and broke Joe Montana’s record for play-off passes, that LaFell score his 46th.
“Those guys did a good job getting it back to seven as quickly as they could,” said Ravens quarterback Flacco. “They don’t panic.”
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