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Green Bay Packers beat Washington Redskins to advance

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 11, 2016 at 12:08 AM
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WASHINGTON -- The Green Bay Packers offense has quarterback Aaron Rodgers smiling again.

Rodgers threw two touchdown passes, Green Bay scored on five consecutive drives, and the Packers advanced to the NFC divisional playoffs with a 35-18 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.

Green Bay, which had lost two straight while totaling 21 points, rallied from an 11-0 deficit. The Packers travel to face the second-seeded Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night for a divisional playoff game.

"We just needed a game like this to get our mojo back and get our confidence going," said Rodgers, who's had his body language and his performances dissected during the team's offensive struggles.

After starting 1-for-8, Rodgers finished 21-for-36 for 210 yards with no interceptions.

Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks had second-half touchdown runs as the Packers picked up 124 of their 141 rushing yards after halftime.

"That's the way you want to play offense," Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said. "When you get in the playoffs you don't have to talk about the regular season anymore."

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was sacked six times, finished 29-for-46 for 329 yards. He passed for one touchdown and ran for another, and he wasn't picked off.

Tight end Jordan Reed had nine catches for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins, who had won four straight to capture their first NFC East title since 2012.

"The opportunities we had out there today, it makes you ill," Redskins second-year head coach Jay Gruden said. "But for these guys to battle the way they did, I'm very proud of these guys and I really like the future of this football team."

Trailing 17-11 at halftime, Washington took the second half kickoff and then took the lead.

On fourth-and-1 at the Green Bay 24, Cousins hit Reed, who pin-balled his way to the 7. On third-and-goal from the 3, Cousins scored on a draw for an 18-17 lead.

Rodgers and Lacy then led Green Bay back. Lacy picked up 11 on fourth-and-1 at the Washington 45, then rumbled 30 yards to 4, with Starks scoring on the next play.

"The line started pushing guys, doing a great job of just getting body on body and giving us holes to run through," Starks said.

The Packers continued to pound the ball on their next drive, using eight runs and two passes to go 76 yards. Starks carried five times for 46 yards, including a 22-yard scamper to the Washington 2.

Lacy scored and the two-point conversion gave Green Bay a 32-18 lead with 12:23 left.

"We just couldn't get them off the field," Gruden said.

Packers kicker Mason Crosby added a 29-yard field goal in the last five minutes to provide the final margin.

The 35 points were the most scored by Green Bay since a 38-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

The Redskins led 5-0 in the first quarter, but the advantage could have been larger. Washington appeared to score a touchdown when wide receiver DeSean Jackson took a pass 15 yards to the pylon. However, after a review, he was ruled out at the 1-yard line, and Washington couldn't punch it in, settling for a field goal.

Early in the second quarter, Cousins found Reed behind the defense for a 24-yard touchdown, but kicker Dustin Hopkins missed the point after.

Green Bay, unable to move the ball in the first quarter, went to a hurry-up offense and responded with an 80-yard drive, which was kick-started when Washington was called for too many men on the field as Rodgers threw incomplete on third-and-four.

"We kept the tempo up and they couldn't keep up," Rodgers said. "That was kind of our first first-down of the quarter, and we got things going. We scored on every meaningful possession after that."

Rodgers, given time in the pocket, found wide receiver James Jones for 34-yard gain to get the Packers across midfield, and later hit wide receiver Randall Cobb for a 12-yard score.

Crosby's 43-yard field goal, following a sack and fumble recovery by linebacker Mike Neal, made it 11-10.

The Packers went 60 yards in nine plays to take their first lead just before halftime, when Rodgers found wide receiver Davante Adams in the back of the end zone.

"I feel like before the half we didn't do enough to move the ball and keep the ball out of their hands, and they were able to put up a 17-point quarter," Cousins said.

NOTES: The visiting team captured all four wild-card playoff games for the first time since the current format was adopted in 1990. ... Green Bay was without starting CB Sam Shields (concussion) and LT David Bakhtiari (ankle). ... C Kory Lichtensteiger (neck) returned for Washington after missing 11 games. RB Matt Jones (hip) was inactive. ... The Redskins outscored opponents 180-113 at home during the regular season.

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