49ers 37, Packers 20: 2-minute drill

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The calendar read January instead of November and it was slightly colder at kickoff. But those were about the only differences when it mattered on Sunday than when Green Bay came to the Bay Area two months ago and lost 37-8. This time, though, the beatdown the 49ers put on the Packers — a 37-20 victory — ended their season and sent the home team to Super Bowl LIV to face the Kansas City Chiefs.

Game Balls

Offense: Raheem Mostert

The Packers had no answer for the undrafted free agent playing on his seventh team. Using a variety of outside runs, Mostert ran for a 49ers playoff record 220 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards every time he touched it as San Francisco jammed it down Green Bay’s throat to the tune of 285 yards on the ground.

“Just the perimeter plays, man. That’s something we couldn’t stop,” outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith said. “We should have fixed that on the sideline but we didn’t.”

Defense: 49ers front seven

As they did in the first game between the two teams, the 49ers front seven largely owned the line of scrimmage. Outside of a five play sequence where the Packers gained 50 yards, including 27 by Aaron Jones, the offense couldn’t run the ball or keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright. That included a pair of sacks and three tackles for loss.

Best tweets

Best quotes

QB Aaron Rodgers when asked if the gap between the two sides is as big as it appears:

“Well, it looks pretty big. They got us a couple times. But I don’t think it’s that big. I think we’re really close. I think we’re just a little more consistent performance away from consistently playing with these guys.”

Rodgers on the season

“This one will always be special because (playing football) became fun again.”

Za’Darius Smith when asked about coach Matt LaFleur’s first season:

“Great head coach. I say it every time I talk to you guys. He’s all about his players. What a great year for him but we came up short. But I told him, ‘Man, most definitely we’ll be back in this situation and we’ll finish next time.’”

In Case You Missed It

— A late addition to the injury report with an illness, punter JK Scott did end up playing. Outside of one horrendous punt — a shank that setup a 37-yard touchdown drive — Scott performed well enough.

— The Packers activated safety Raven Greene from injured reserve this week and most expected him to play. That ended up not happening, as the former undrafted free agent was among seven players listed as inactive. That also included fullback Danny Vitale. He’s been dealing with a knee injury suffered against Minnesota in Week 16 and missed his third-straight game.

— Jordy Nelson was among a number of former Packers in attendance. The former wide receiver also took part in the team’s pep rally Saturday.

— 49ers running back Tevin Coleman suffered an elbow injury in the second quarter that led to him being carted off the field.

— Packers safety Adrian Amos suffered a pectoral injury in the second quarter. He initially stayed in the game but did not return after halftime.

— Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander injured his thumb in the third quarter. He did not return and told reporters afterwards that he broke it.

— Rookie tight end Jace Sternberger caught his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter.

— Several Packers may have been playing in their final games. Tackle Bryan Bulaga, kicker Mason Crosby, cornerback Tramon Williams and linebacker Blake Martinez are all slated to become unrestricted free agents.

Inside the Numbers

160 — That’s how many yards rushing Raheem Mostert had rushing in the first half. It was the most rushing yards in a first half in playoff game since 1964.

24:05 — That’s the amount of game time between pass attempts by Jimmy Garoppolo. He threw a pass with 2:10 left in the first half and then not again until there was 8:05 left in the fourth quarter.

1 — That’s how many targets and catches Davante Adams had in the first half. He finished with 11 targets and nine catches for 138 yards.

40 — That’s how many postseason touchdowns Aaron Rodgers has in his career. That’s tied for the most in Packers history with Brett Favre.

What’s Next

The offseason

Final injury report for Packers-49ers released

Both teams will be as healthy as either could hope in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers released their final injury reports Friday and there was only one injury designation — Packers fullback Danny Vitale. He’s dealing with a nagging knee injury that’s played a part in him missing the last two games. Vitale is listed as questionable for the matchup.

Meanwhile, every other player listed on the injury report — for both sides — does not have an injury designation and should be available to play. That includes Green Bay wide receivers Allen Lazard (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (illness), as well as 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle).

“It definitely helps,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said when asked the impact of all 52 players on the active roster practicing Friday. “You’re able to get the reps out on the practice field that you’re going to get in the game. I think our guys have done a great job of taking care of their bodies and they’re dialed in and ready to go.”

The two teams will meet on Sunday in Santa Clara with a trip to Super Bowl LIV on the line. Kick is at 5:40 p.m. CT.

Former Packers safety elected to Pro Football HOF

Add another former member of the Green Bay Packers to the list of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The NFL announced its special Centennial Class of 2020 on Wednesday and former Packers safety Bobby Dillon was among the 15 players announced.

Dillon played for Green Bay from 1952 to 1959 and is the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions with 52. A six-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, Dillion also holds the Packers’ record for return yardage on interceptions.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Dillon’s career is he did everything despite playing the whole thing with only one eye. He lost his left eye when he was 10 years old. A third-round pick in the 1952 NFL Draft, Dillon played on only one winning team his entire career.

Dillion passed away at the age of 89 last August. He’ll be the 26th member of the Packers to enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Packers 28, Seahawks 23: 2-minute drill

GREEN BAY — For the fourth time since 2010, the Green Bay Packers will play in the NFC Championship Game. That’s after running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Davante Adams scored twice and the defense held off quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks for a 28-23 win in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs at Lambeau Field.

Game Balls

Offense: Davante Adams

The Packers targeted Adams early and often Sunday night and he delivered. The veteran, long thought of as one of the best route runners in the NFL, showed that on his first touchdown of the night. He took cornerback Tre Flowers inside on what was a fake rub route before breaking back out and Aaron Rodgers found him for an easy 20-yard score. Then, in the third quarter, the two hooked up again for a 40-yard touchdown on another beautiful route from Adams. And then, with Green Bay facing a third-and-8 with 2:19 left and clinging to a 5-point lead, Rodgers dropped a dime on Adams for a 32-yard gain.

Adams ended up with a Packers’ playoff record 160 yards on eight catches and two scores. He also got all the praise in the world from Rodgers afterwards.

“He was on one tonight,” Rodgers said. “He was really crisp with his route running. Just one of those special nights.

Defense: The Smiths

The two free agent additions once again played a big role in helping the Packers get a win. Za’Darius Smith had a pair of sacks and spent much of the first half in the Seahawks backfield. Then, in the second half, it was Preston Smith’s turn. He came up with two sacks, including a huge one on the final Seattle possession that forced a Seattle punt.

The duo combined for the four sacks, eight quarterback hits and two tackles for loss.

Best tweets

Best quotes

Rodgers on his connection with Adams:

“Tonight reminds me of the connection Jordy Nelson and I had for so many years where there were some unspoken things we could do without even communicating anything about it. Davante made three or four plays like that tonight. It was pretty fun.”

Rodgers on the two replay reviews

“We kind of got hosed on that first quarter one, so I was hoping we didn’t get hosed again.”

In Case You Missed It

— The game drew several big names to it, including Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis and rapper Lil Wayne. The latter lead the Lambeau Field crowd in a rousing rendition of “Roll Out the Barrel.”

https://twitter.com/packers/status/1216543936858091522

— It appeared the Packers had recovered a fumble at the Seahawks 36-yard line on their first drive of the game, but the officials determined there was no clear recovery by Green Bay. The league sent out a tweet explaining the decision.

But a TV replay suggested there was a clear recovery.

https://twitter.com/jasonjwilde/status/1216512034399051777

— That was not the only controversial call in the game. The other came on third-and-9 late in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks needing a stop for one more chance to win the game. Instead, Rodgers found Jimmy Graham for what was called a 9-yard gain and the game-clinching first down. The play went to review and officials upheld the call.

— Wide receiver Allen Lazard suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.

— Cornerback Chandon Sullivan (back), cornerback Kevin King (head/neck), defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster (arm/shoulder) and outside linebacker Preston Smith suffered injuries but did return.

— Six players were listed as questionable coming into the game due to an illness going around the team. Three of them were inactive — Danny Vitale, Dexter Williams and Josh Jackson. One was active and played — Tyler Lancaster. Two others were active and did not play — Bryan Bulaga and Alex Light.

— Jared Veldheer started in place of Bulaga at right tackle. It was his first start of the season and it came after he unretired midway through the season. Aaron Rodgers joked with Veldheer during the game about him being retired and now starting a playoff game. Veldheer informed him he was actually in the stands for the Packers opener against the Bears in Chicago.

Inside the Numbers

6 — That’s how many postseason touchdown receptions Adams has in his career. It’s tied for the second-most in Packers history

4 — That’s the number of NFC title game Rodgers has led the Packers to. All of them have been on the road.

0-4 — That’s Russell Wilson’s record in Wisconsin since coming into the NFL in 2012. His last win in the state came as the Badgers starting QB on Nov. 26, 2011 against Penn State.

155.8 — That was Rodgers’ quarterback rating on third down against Seattle.

64.3 — That was Green Bay’s third-down conversion rate on Sunday. Coming into the game, the Packers were converting just 36-percent of their third downs.

3 — That’s how many catches Jimmy Graham had. All of them came on third down and went for first downs, including the game-clinching one just after the two-minute warning.

What’s Next

Green Bay will travel to San Francisco next Sunday to play for a trip to Super Bowl LIV. Kick is at 5:40 p.m.

Packers: DL Kenny Clark, three others listed as questionable for Seattle game

Green Bay has been largely healthy throughout the entire season and that’s pretty much the case heading into its playoff game with Seattle.

The Packers issued their final injury report prior to Sunday’s game and four players are listed as questionable. Those are defensive tackle Kenny Clark (back), fullback Danny Vitale (knee/illness), defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster (illness) and running back Dexter Williams (illness).

Clark missed practice on Wednesday but was a limited participant on Thursday and Friday. Coach Matt LaFleur sounded optimistic that he would be ready to go come Sunday.

The other three are dealing with an illness that has been going around the team. Vitale practiced on a limited basis Wednesday because of the knee injury before missing the last two days. Lancaster also missed the last two days, while Williams missed all week.

Green Bay would obviously love to have Vitale back after he missed the Detroit game and Lancaster has been active all season as an extra body along the defensive line. Williams was likely to be inactive even if healthy as Jamaal Williams is expected to return after missing the Detroit game with a shoulder injury.

As for Seattle, it has listed five players as questionable: defensive end Ziggy Ansah (neck), safety Marquise Blair (ankle), tackle Duane Brown (knee), tackle George Fant (groin) and defensive end Quinton Jefferson (ankle). The Seahawks have also listed starting guard Mike Iupati (neck) as doubtful.

Kick on Sunday at Lambeau Field is set for 5:40 p.m.

Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy reportedly has a new job

Former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has a new job.

As first reported by Fox Sports, McCarthy has been tabbed by the Dallas Cowboys to replace Jason Garrett.

McCarthy sat out this season after being fired by Green Bay last December. He did interview for several jobs last offseason and then was reportedly a candidate for multiple openings in the last few weeks, including in Cleveland, New York and Carolina. The 56-year-old is the first person in NFL history to coach both the Packers and Cowboys.

Over his nearly 13 years with Green Bay, McCarthy helped the Packers to 125 wins and a victory in Super Bowl XLV.

Packers, Seahawks to battle in playoffs…again

After a crazy Wild Card weekend in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers know their opponent for next week’s playoff game at Lambeau Field and it’s a familiar one.

Coach Matt LaFleur’s club will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at 5:40 p.m. That’s after Seattle went on the road and beat Philadelphia 17-9.

This will be the fourth time Green Bay and Seattle have met in the playoffs with the other three being very memorable for both fan bases.

In the 2003 Wild Card round, the game went to overtime before this happened:

The teams would meet five years later in the Divisional Round and this time the game was played in a snow globe in Green Bay. After falling behind 14-0, the Packers outscored the Seahawks 42-6 the rest of the way.

For their third matchup the scene would shift to Seattle for the 2014 NFC Championship Game. Green Bay dominated for much of the afternoon but a late collapse turned a 19-7 lead with 3:52 left into a 28-22 loss in overtime. If you’d like to relive that disaster, see the clip below.

https://youtu.be/3L-1sNa1qvU

The game will mark the return of former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson to the state. He’s 4-3 against Green Bay in his career, but all three losses have come on the road. He’s completed just 57-percent of his passes and thrown double the number of interceptions (6) than touchdowns (3).

The winner of Sunday’s game will face either No. 1 seed San Francisco 49ers or the No. 6 seed Minnesota Vikings in the NFC title game.

Packers get safety Raven Greene back

Raven Greene is back on the practice field for Green Bay.

The safety made his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury in Week 2 of the season that landed him on injured reserve. But the Packers have designated him to return from IR and he’s eligible to play when they open the postseason Jan. 12 at Lambeau Field.

“Potentially,” coach Matt LaFleur said Thursday of whether Greene could help them soon. “It’s still an evaluation for him but definitely nice to work him back out there today.”

Before being hurt, the former undrafted free agent had become a significant part of Mike Pettine’s unit, serving as a hybrid safety and inside linebacker. Green Bay struggled to find a suitable replacement for Greene, though veteran Ibrahim Campbell had seen time there since coming off the physically unable to perform list.

The Packers practiced Thursday even though they don’t play this week and won’t know their opponent until after this weekend. In addition to Greene, running back Jamaal Williams, wide receiver Allen Lazard, safety Will Redmond and linebacker BJ Goodson were back at practice.

However, only one starting offensive lineman — left guard Elgton Jenkins — took part. Center Corey Linsley (back) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion) left the Detroit game early last Sunday. Right guard Billy Turner (ankle) was injured against the Lions but stayed in the game. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (unknown) was also not on the practice field.

Others sitting out included fullback Danny Vitale, tight end Jimmy Graham, outside linebacker Preston Smith and tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Packers clinch first-round bye with comeback win over Lions

Green Bay didn’t lead for a single second on Sunday against Detroit but still came away with a win.

Kicker Mason Crosby drilled a 33-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give the Packers the 23-20 victory over the Lions at Ford Field.

That Crosby was even in the position to make the kick was a bit surprising. Detroit took a 17-3 lead into halftime after an ugly first half on both sides of the ball for the visiting team. But Green Bay dominated after the break, outscoring the Lions 20-3 the rest of the way.

It included a pair of touchdown throws from quarterback Aaron Rodgers on what was an otherwise underwhelming afternoon from the future Hall of Famer. He finished with the most incompletions — 28 — of his career, but still managed to lead a late two-minute drill to set Crosby up for the game-winner.

“Too many missed throws,” Rodgers said afterwards. “I felt good about the throws, that’s the crazy thing. I felt good about some of those I overthrew by a couple yards. Just a little bit off at times. But when we had to make some plays, we made some plays.”

They did, including a late screen pass to Aaron Jones for 31 yards that moved Green Bay into field goal range. Jones finished with 25 carries for 100 yards and added 43 yards on two catches. The third-year back went over 1,000 yards for the first time. Wide receiver Davante Adams had seven grabs for 93 yards and a score, coming up just three yards short of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Defensively, the Packers allowed 305 yards to third-string quarterback David Blough, but just 89 in the second half. They also came up with several big stops, including getting an interception that led to a touchdown and then forcing punts on back-to-back possessions at the end of the game to give the ball back to the offense.

The win moved the Packers to 13-3 and guaranteed them a first-round bye in the playoffs. It left them no worse than the No. 2 seed, though they could move up to the No. 1 seed with a 49ers loss Sunday night.

Packers: RB Jamaal Williams not expected to play vs Lions

Green Bay will likely be without one of its top weapons when it travels to Detroit this Sunday.

Coach Matt LaFleur essentially ruled out running back Jamaal Williams with a shoulder injury.

“I think we’ll probably hold him back this week and move forward with the guys we have,” LaFleur told reporters Friday.

Williams suffered the injury in the third quarter against Minnesota on Monday night and did not return. The third-year back has accounted for 713 yards (460 rushing, 253 receiving) and six touchdowns this season.

Without him available, the Packers will need someone else to step up and help starter Aaron Jones carry the load. That could be rookie Dexter Williams. The sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft has played in just three games this season, carrying the ball three times for two yards.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” LaFleur said of Dexter Williams. “I think he’s been working hard all season long. Obviously, (the media) doesn’t get to see that, but we’ve got confidence that he’s going to go in there and do a really good job.”

Despite winning the NFC North already, the Packers would love to have their top players against the Lions as they are approaching the game as if it is a must-win. That’s because a victory would guarantee a first-round bye in the playoffs and the potential to be the top seed in the NFC if San Francisco were to lose. If Green Bay loses to Detroit, it would likely be the No. 3 seed and host Minnesota in the first round next Sunday.