The Packers (6-6) weathered wintry conditions, making just enough plays on the cold turf to even their record for the first time since they were 4-4 after losing to Indianapolis on Nov. 6. They’re two games back of division-leading Detroit after the Lions beat New Orleans on Sunday.
Brock Osweiler connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 left to get within eight for Houston. Nick Novak missed the extra point, with footing slippery at Lambeau.
The Texans (6-6) had one last shot after the Packers failed to run out the clock. But Osweiler’s last-ditch pass-and-lateral play from Houston’s 12 with 4 seconds left failed, handing Houston its third straight loss.
"There’s not much a margin for error with our team, and we’ve got to do a better job in the fourth quarter," coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Texans are tied with idle Tennessee and a half-game ahead of Indianapolis, which plays the New York Jets on Monday night, for the AFC South lead.
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The Packers broke a 7-all tie when Rodgers found Nelson open in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 12:42 left after Texans cornerback Charles James slipped on the turf.
Nelson, who missed last season with a knee injury, finished with eight catches.
"I don’t know how much more Jordy needs to prove," McCarthy said. "He’s going through what every great player goes through in that first year back from major injury."
Rodgers was 20 of 30. He looked OK after being limited in practice with a left hamstring injury, taking off for a couple runs, though he didn’t seem to have his usual mobility on the slippery turf.
Rodgers didn’t face much pressure in the first half against a Houston defense minus injured end Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans started getting more pressure on Rodgers in the second half.
"I don’t know if you ever come out better than you did coming in, but I feel good about where I’m at," Rodgers said. "I had decent movement and didn’t do anything to create a major setback."
Osweiler has faced heat for the Texans’ offensive struggles this season. He was composed in the second half in leading Houston on 10-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin on fourth-and-1 to tie it at 7 with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
Osweiler finished 22 of 35 for 202 yards.
"We’re tired of being close, we really are as a team. We’re all able to see it on the film every single week that we’re so close to turning that corner," Osweiler said. "And if you’re tired of seeing it, we’re tired of living it."
Randall Cobb had fun in the snow. The wide receiver did a snow angel in the end zone after a sliding, 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that gave the Packers a 7-0 lead. In the third quarter, Ryan Griffin did a Lambeau Leap into the waiting arms of a group of Texans fans after his 6-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-1 finished a 10-play, 63-yard drive to tie the game at 7.
Julius Peppers still packs a pass-rushing punch for the Packers. A sack of Osweiler on second-and-1 at the Houston 41 with 56 seconds left in the second quarter gave the 15-year veteran 142 1/2 for his career, snapping a tie for fifth on the career list with Michael Strahan. Chris Doleman is fourth on that list with 150 1/2.
Texans: WR Braxton Miller left with a shoulder injury after being driven to the cold turf by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the second quarter.
Packers: LB Jake Ryan left for a few series in the first half after appearing to aggravate an ankle injury that kept him out the previous two weeks. … LB Nick Perry, who leads the team with eight sacks, returned with his left hand