Packers move up to No. 2 seed with win, 49ers loss

Getting a week off sounds great to the Green Bay Packers.

It’s looking even better now, too.

The Packers moved up to the No. 2 seed in the NFC on Sunday with

their 55-7 thrashing of the Tennessee Titans and Seattle’s victory

over San Francisco. Beat the Minnesota Vikings next weekend, and

the Packers (11-4) can spend the first week of the playoffs parked

on the couch.

”Everything happens for a reason. We have 11 wins because of

what we’ve put into it and we’re going to take whatever opportunity

is in front of us,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ”We’re

going to play to win next week.”

The Vikings can consider themselves warned.

Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another

against the Titans, Ryan Grant scored twice and the Packers made

Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker look like a tackling dummy with

seven sacks. It was the most points scored by the Packers since

they put up the same number against Tampa Bay on Oct. 2, 1983, and

their largest margin of victory since a 52-3 win over New Orleans

on Oct. 9, 2005.

The 55 points were the most allowed by the Titans (5-10) since

they were shut out 59-0 by the New England Patriots on Oct. 18,

2009. Tennessee was in danger of being blanked again until Kenny

Britt’s 2-yard reception with 1:39 left in the game.

”They’re a good football team,” Titans safety Jordan Babineaux

said. ”They’re a playoff team for a reason.”

And there’s a reason all of the Titans should be concerned about

their job security.

After finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker

last year, Tennessee has faded to the back of the AFC. This was the

Titans’ sixth loss in eight games, and the second time this season

they’ve given up 51 points or more. Yes, the Titans have been

ravaged by injuries – they started their fifth offensive line

combination Sunday and were without leading receiver Kendall Wright

– but they were simply outclassed by the Packers.

”It got uglier than it needed to,” Titans coach Mike Munchak

said. ”We needed to make a stand somewhere and we didn’t. I would

never have thought this possible because I felt we had been playing

better. But today we did not. Obviously we took a step back as a

team when you lose by that number. It’s only one loss, but it’s

embarrassing to lose by that score.”

In addition to his seven sacks, Locker was picked off twice and

finished 13 of 30 for 140 yards for a quarterback rating of 41.0.

Tennessee managed to cross midfield just three times the entire

game. After holding their last five opponents to an average of 17.6

points, the Titans had no answer for Rodgers and the Packers. Green

Bay scored on nine of its first 12 drives – one of those misses was

the end of the first half – and was six of seven in the red


”It was important for us to go out and dominate the opponents

late in the year,” McCarthy said. ”We have momentum going for us,

particularly what we’ve done over the last nine weeks, ten weeks,

so we wanted to take the next step as a football team and I felt we

were able to accomplish that today.”

Now the Packers can turn their attention to the Vikings. And

locking up that No. 2 seed.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl two years as a wild card. Last

year, the Packers got that first week off as the No. 1 seed and

were promptly bounced out in the divisional round.

But there’s a different mentality to this group, which has been

hardened by a rough start and a locker room that’s looked more like

an infirmary what with all its injuries.

Charles Woodson (collarbone) missed his eighth straight game

Sunday and Jordy Nelson (hamstring) his third, and the Packers were

down to two running backs – neither of whom was on the active

roster at the beginning of December – because of injuries to Alex

Green and James Starks. The offensive line is being held together

with bandages and tape, and injuries to ends C.J. Wilson and Jerel

Worthy have left the defensive line thin, too.

”Me, personally, I’d love to have the bye,” said Clay

Matthews, who missed four games with a hamstring injury. ”This

team is more mentally tough than last year and that we understand

what we need to accomplish and we can’t just skate into the

playoffs, which we did last year. We’re taking this victory, but

even more so, we’re getting closer.”

NOTES: Randall Cobb broke Ahman Green’s single-season franchise

record for net yardage. With 101 yards Sunday, Cobb has 2,342 for

the year, 92 more than Green in 2003. … With 100 yards on seven

catches, James Jones has at least one 100-yard game in each of his

six seasons. His 722 yards also tops his previous season best. …

A.J. Hawk’s two sacks tied his career best. … Seven of the

Titans’ 10 losses have been by 14 points or more. … Fifteen

different Packers have had a full sack this season, matching the

franchise high.