Road to Super Bowl 55 Goes Through Lambeau
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 32-18 on Saturday night to earn the right to host the NFC Championship game next Sunday for the first time in Aaron Rodgers career.
Green Bay’s top scoring offense out dueled LA’s top scoring defense all afternoon.
After moving the ball with ease on the offense’s first drive of the game, the Packers had to settle for a 24-yard field goal to snap a streak of 19 consecutive goal-to-go situations ending in a touchdown. Rodgers left the field in a fury after consecutive passes fell to the turf after hitting Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard in the hands.
A questionable kick return decision started Green Bay’s second offensive drive from their own 16-yard line. 14 plays and 84 yards later the Packers scored the first touchdown of the game on a masterful play-design from Matt LaFleur.
An unusually bad punt from the often reliable Johnny Hekker gave the Packers a short field on their third offensive possession. The 37-year-old Rodgers turned backed the clocked by pump-faking Leonard Floyd out of his jock-strap and scambering in for the second touchdown of the game.
The Packers got the ball back with 29 seconds left in the first half. Rodgers hit Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan on consecutive plays to threaten a chance of another touchdown before half. A few risky throws luckily fell incomplete and the Packers settled for a field goal as time expired.
Aaron Jones busted the first play of the second half for 60 yards and capped off the drive five plays later with a determined 1-yard touchdown.
After five consecutive scoring drives against the top scoring defense in the league, the Packers shot themselves in the foot with a holding call a 20-yard run, a bad throw to an open MVS 40-yards downfield and a drop from Lazard with nothing but green space in front of him.
The offense stalled again on their next drive, and spoiled Packers fans began to curse the offense for their poor play. However, those fans were quickly satisfied after Rodgers called his shot (sound on) and hit Lazard for a 58-yard touchdown to ice the game — the first 20+ yard touchdown allowed by LA all year.
Even though the Rams seemed unstoppable on their two touchdown drives, the overall numbers show that Green Bay’s defense did it’s job on Saturday afternoon.
The Rams did not commit a turnover, but they were an abysmal 2-8 on third down and 0-1 on fourth down. The Rams were sacked four times, held to 244 total yards (4.9 average) and only mustered 18 points.
The run defense was stout, but the pass rush and coverage led the way.
According to NextGen Stats, the Packers had their highest team pressure rate (48.4%) of the season. Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary led the way with seven each, while Kenny Clark had four. Gary and Clark’s pressures each netted them 1.5 sacks, while Za’Darius had a solo sack early in the game.
Rodgers has played in four NFC Championship games in his career: 2011 @ Bears (W), 2015 @ Seahawks (L), 2017 @ Falcons (L), 2020 @ 49ers (L). Green Bay’s defense averaged 36.33 points per game in the losses and only allowed 14 in the lone win. With the ~9,000 fans scattered throughout Lambeau at their backs, this defense has the chance to propel the Packers back to the promised land.