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GB Packers carve up LA Rams to reach NFC title game

IN a matchup of the National Football League’s (NFL) top-ranked offense and defense, it was Green Bay’s (GB) offense that carried the day.

Rolling up 484 total yards and scoring on their first five possessions Saturday, the top-seeded Packers advanced to the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game with a 32-18 victory over the visiting Los Angeles (LA) Rams.

Green Bay will host either Tampa Bay or New Orleans, who plays Sunday in New Orleans, on Jan. 24 with a spot in the Super Bowl at stake.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 23 of 36 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns, finding Allen Lazard for the game-sealing 58-yard score off play-action with 6:52 left in the game. Rodgers earlier scored on a 1-yard run as Green Bay controlled the ball for 36:12.

“It’s all about the offensive line,” he said. “I was barely touched all night. (The Rams) have some really good players on that side of the ball and they were non-factors. Guys made plays and we had some off-schedule stuff that worked, but the run game was key.”

The Packers collected 188 yards on the ground, getting 99 on 14 carries from Aaron Jones. It was Jones’ 60-yard gallop on the first play of the second half that set up his one-yard plunge to make it a 25-10 game less than three minutes into the third quarter.

The sixth-seeded Rams drew within 25-18 at 1:41 of the third on Cam Akers’ powerful 7-yard run and a two-point conversion but couldn’t produce the equalizer. They gained just 244 total yards.

Jared Goff hit 21 of 27 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown for Los Angeles. Goff, playing with a thumb injury that kept him out of the starting lineup for last week’s wild card win in Seattle, absorbed four sacks.

“You could see why they’re the one seed,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “When you reflect on the game, there was a lot of back and forth, great plays on both sides. We had opportunities to sustain drives and get momentum going and couldn’t do it. That stings.”

Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal with 8:39 left in the first quarter initiated scoring. After Matt Gay drilled a 37-yarder just over four minutes later for the Rams, the Packers chewed up nearly eight minutes on a drive that ended with Rodgers’ one-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.

Rodgers capped the next march with a 1-yard run, using a pump fake to get Leonard Floyd out of position for the tackle to make it 16-3 with 3:29 remaining in the half. Los Angeles pulled within 16-10 on Goff’s 4-yard scoring strike to Van Jefferson 29 seconds before halftime.

But Green Bay came up with the half’s last word, driving 54 yards to set up Crosby for a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give it a 19-10 advantage at intermission. — Reuters

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