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The Sports Xchange, Published December 29 2013

Big pass sends Packers to playoffs

CHICAGO – Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had missed seven games with a broken collarbone and Randall Cobb had missed 10 games with a knee injury. But they came back just in time on Sunday to rescue the Green Bay Packers and send them into the playoffs.

On a 4th-and-8 play, Rodgers spun away from an all-out blitz and launched a 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb with 38 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, lifting the Packers to a 33-28 victory over theChicago Bears for the NFC North Division title.

It was only Green Bay’s third victory since October and the first since then by more than a single point. But it allowed the Packers to finish the season with an 8-7-1 record as the only team in the division above .500. The Packers will host San Francisco (12-4), the defending NFC champion, in a first-round playoff game next weekend.

Chicago finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the third straight year.

The Packers, who led by six points at halftime and trailed by eight early in the fourth quarter, had to convert three fourth-down plays on their winning drive, which covered 87 yards in 15 plays. On one of the fourth-down conversions, the Packers actually were lined up in the wrong formation, Rodgers said.

“Today’s game was pretty much a microcosm of our season,” said Mike McCarthy, the Green Bay coach. “It was just a great team win, clearly one of the finer moments of our time in Green Bay.”

At first, Rodgers appeared rusty, throwing a pair of interceptions and losing a fumble that, oddly, turned into a Packers’ touchdown. On that fumble, Bears players ignored the ball – thinking it was an incomplete pass – and Green Bay wideout Jarrrett Boykin alertly picked it up and ran 15 yards into the end zone.

Green Bay 0 13 7 13— 33

Chicago 7 0 14 7— 28

FIRST QUARTER

Chi—Forte 4 yard pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 2:07.

SECOND QUARTER

GB—Crosby 33 yard field goal, 7:59.

GB—J.Boykin 15 yard fumble return/recovery (Crosby kick), 3:28.

GB—Crosby 27 yard field goal, 0:02.

THIRD QUARTER

Chi—Forte 5 yard rush (Gould kick), 10:46.

GB—Cobb 7 yard pass from A.Rodgers (Crosby kick), 7:27.

Chi—Forte 1 yard rush (Gould kick), 5:04.

FOURTH QUARTER

Chi—B.Marshall 5 yard pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 14:55.

GB—Lacy 6 yard rush (Crosby kick), 11:38.

GB—Cobb 48 yard pass from A.Rodgers (Lacy pass from A.Rodgers - failed), 0:38.

A—62,708.

TEAM STATISTICS

GB CHI

First Downs 25 17

Total Net Yards 473 347

Rushes-Yds 34-160 24-121

Passing 313 226

Sacked-Yds Lost 3-5 1-2

Comp-Att-Int 25-39-2 15-24-1

Punts 2-40.0 4-34.3

Punt Returns 1-0 1-49

Kickoff Returns 2-40 7-138

Interceptions Ret. 1-7 2-3

Penalties-Yards 1-15 5-40

Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-1

Time of Possession 35:09 24:51

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING- GB, J.Starks 11-88, Lacy 21-66, A.Rodgers 1-5, J.Kuhn 1-1. CHI, Forte 22-110, M.Bush 2-11.

PASSING- GB, A.Rodgers 25-39-2-318. CHI, Cutler 15-24-1-226.

RECEIVING- GB, J.Nelson 10-161, Jm.Jones 6-41, Cobb 2-55, Quarless 2-31, Lacy 2-15, J.Boykin 2-8, J.Starks 1-7. CHI, B.Marshall 6-74, Forte 4-47, Jeffery 3-80, E.Bennett 1-15, Mq.Wilson 1-10.

MISSED FIELD GOALS- GB, None. CHI, None