The confident, efficient Green Bay Packers offense, which hasn't been seen too often since late October, suddenly reappeared at the right time on Sunday.
The wild-card game against the Washington Redskins didn't start that way. The Packers' offensive line wasn't protecting, the receivers weren't getting open, and Aaron Rodgers wasn't finding them when they were free. Basically, it looked like most of their past 10 games. Green Bay even took a safety on a sack and was trailing 5-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Packers aren't necessarily back to their championship form just because they rallied to beat Washington 35-18, but the final three quarters looked familiar. A faster pace seemed to bring some rhythm to the passing game and it helped slow the Redskins' pass rush down. Green Bay kept plugging away with the run game, and late in the third quarter that started to gain momentum too.
By the end it seemed the Packers team that made the NFC championship game last year and started 6-0 this season had returned, at least in part. Fox's cameras caught Rodgers giving a big smile during the second half, when the Packers were imposing their will on Washington and it was clear which direction this playoff game was headed. The Packers scored on five straight possessions, and Fox said that was the first time all year that has happened. This type of offensive performance was long overdue in Green Bay.
The Packers go to the Arizona Cardinals for a divisional playoff game on Saturday night, where they got blasted 38-8 on Dec. 27. Rodgers was sacked eight times. They basically looked nothing like the team that was rolling through the second half on Sunday at Washington.
The Packers' defense also did well, cooling off Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins was 29-of-46 for 329 yards, but the Packers put good pressure on him and Cousins never made a big play in the second half to stop the Packers' momentum. Washington didn't beat a team all season that finished with a winning record, and the Redskins looked very average as they were easily defeated in their playoff opener.
The competition will get tougher for the Packers in Arizona. But after struggling for so many weeks after a 6-0 start, it will be good to go into the Cardinals rematch with a little swagger.
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