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