The Green Bay Packers needed to win their final two regular season games to make the playoffs in 2010. The club still had their destiny in their own hands but quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed the previous game after suffering his second concussion of the season so there were a lot of questions surrounding the team. Rodgers was set to play in the team’s first must-win game, a Week 16 home game against the 9-5 New York Giants.
Rodgers didn’t let the concussion slow him down. He responded with a strong performance and the led the Packers to 515 yards of total offense in a 45-17 thrashing of the Giants.
Rodgers finished the game 404 yards passing and four touchdowns without throwing an interception. “I had to get my job back,” Rodgers joked, referring to backup Matt Flynn’s solid play the previous game.
The Packers emphasized quick release passes which helped protect Rodgers from further harm and got the offense into a rhythm almost immediately. The Giants simply had no answers.
Greg Jennings caught seven passes for 142 while Jordy Nelson added four catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. James Jones and Donald Lee caught the other scoring passes from Rodgers.
Fullback John Kuhn ran for two touchdowns and caught a third for the Packers. Each time he touched the ball the Lambeau Field crowd chanted, “Kuuuuuhn!”
“It’s pretty funny,” Kuhn said. “It’s nice. I don’t want to let them down. They call for you ahead of time, so I’ve got to try and come through.”
On defense, the Packers were able to force six turnovers including four interceptions of Eli Manning. A.J. Hawk, Nick Collins, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams each picked Manning off once while Collins and Atari Bigby recovered Giants fumbles.
The Green Bay offense got going on their second possession of the day. Rodgers hit Nelson on an 80-yard scoring pass on a deep strike over the middle. Nelson outraced safety Deon Grant to the end zone.
“It was a good call,” Rodgers said after the game. “It’s something we work on a lot with the play-action, and he’s kind of going down the middle. … I just wanted to make a decent fake and we pulled Antrel just enough to get a good throwing lane there and I was able to put a good throw on it and Jordy took off.”
The Packers treated this contest like it was a playoff game, which it was in many ways for the home team. “You had to put it in that category,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “We had no other choice.”
“That’s how it’s going to be next week, too,” added Collins.
The Packers offensive line did a solid job of protecting Rodgers. The Packers quarterback was still willing to run, gaining 26 yards on two scrambles, but he was smart about it. During one of the runs, he slid to avoid contact and got up and made a “safe” sign which delighted the fans. Rodgers was sacked twice but for most of the game, he was rarely even pressured.
The game was tied 14-14 late in the second quarter when Kuhn ran for his first touchdown with less than two minutes left in the half. In the second half, the Packers dominated, outscoring the Giants 24-3.
“When we walked out of that locker room there were two things we were going to do,” McCarthy said. “We were going to be more physical than our opponent and we were going to be more disciplined than our opponent. We feel that we accomplished that.”
The win was a big confidence booster for the Packers heading into another must win game in the season finale against the Bears.
“We feel great,” Tramon Williams added. “Obviously we needed to get this one or it was over. For us to put together a performance like that, guys are really confident knowing we can still make this run. Our goal is still ahead of us. Everyone’s goal is to win the Super Bowl, so everyone’s feeling good right now.”
The Packers beat the Bears 10-3 to clinch the final wild card spot in the NFC. The team then won three straight road playoff games, edging the Eagles in Philadelphia, crushing the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta and then beating the Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field to reach Super Bowl XLV.
They won that game two as Rodgers threw for 304 yards and three touchdown passes to lead the Packers past the Steelers 31-25.
The victory over the Giants was a must win and it was the beginning of the run that led to the Packers 13th and most recent NFL title.
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