It took until the fourth quarter for the Green Bay Packers to feel comfortable as they defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 32-18, in the Divisional Round on Saturday.
Despite racking up huge advantages in total yards (484-244), total plays (72-50) and time of possession (36:12-23:48), the Packers couldn't breathe easy until late in the game at Lambeau Field. That's because a steadfast Rams team, led by an efficient Jared Goff at quarterback (21/27, 174 passing yards), would not go quietly in the night. Every time the Packers appeared to be cruising, the Rams found a way to scrape their way back into the game.
The biggest example came just before halftime, when the Rams faced a 13-point deficit within the the closing moments. Undeterred, Goff masterminded a nine-play, 75-yard drive down the field that resulted in a four-yard Van Jefferson touchdown reception. That brought LA to within six points, and while the Packers managed a field goal on the final play of the quarter to extend the halftime lead to nine, it still kept the Rams close heading into the break.
It would be even tighter in the third quarter, when the Rams were once again able to respond to a Packers' score with a timely touchdown of their own. A Cam Akers major, followed by a smart bit of trickery on the two-point conversion, brought the Rams to within a single possession with 5:45 left in the penultimate quarter — but that would be as close as they could get.
The final period was all Green Bay, as the Packers' defence thwarted Goff and the Rams' offence on consecutive drives, opening the way for the home team to finally put the nail in the coffin. A 58-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Allen Lazard is what ultimately put the game out of reach, as the Packers went away from their methodical game plan for a spectacular moment of briiliance between quarterback and receiver.
Green Bay moves on to next week's NFC Championship game, where it'll take on the winner of Sunday's Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New Orleans Saints showdown.