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Aaron Rodgers, Packers bounce Redskins from playoffs

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Things did not start well for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but the NFL’s reigning MVP still finished off the Washington Redskins on Sunday. After missing seven of his first eight passes, Rodgers completed 20 of his final 28 for 199 yards and two touchdowns to lead Green Bay to a 35-18 victory in an NFC Wild Card game.

While Rodgers struggled, Washington’s Kirk Cousins came out firing, leading Washington to an 11-0 lead early in the second quarter. Two of those points came on a sack of Rodgers in the first quarter.

After falling behind, Green Bay scored on five consecutive possessions sandwiched around halftime. Rodgers connected with Davante Adams on a 10-yard scoring pass with 28 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Packers the lead at 17-11.

After Cousins scored on a 3-yard run up the middle to regain the lead for Washington, Green Bay responded with two more scores to take control. The Redskins never seriously threatened the Packers for the remainder of the game.

After the first quarter, Rodgers looked like one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. His line also protected him much better. He finished 21 of 35 for 210 yards.

“We lost a lot of momentum in the second quarter, for whatever reason,” said Redskins Coach Jay Gruden. “We came out of the tunnel like I wanted to get the lead back in the third quarter. (But) we couldn’t get them off the field and Aaron did what he did.”

Eddie Lacy, playing on sore ribs, ran for 63 yards and a touchdown. James Starks had 53 yards and a score.

“We were able to run and pass. That’s what you have to do,” said Packers’ Coach Mike McCarthy. “(Rodgers) has to be able to manage the whole thing, and he’s a master of that. Good adjustments on the sideline, good adjustments by players and coaches.”

Cousins threw for 329 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Jordan Reed had 120 receiving yards and a score.

Green Bay’s win meant that all four road teams won the Wild Card games for the first time since the format began in 1990. Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Seattle also celebrated from the visiting team locker room.

Green Bay (11-6) will have a difficult task on the road next week when they visit the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. Just two weeks ago, the Packers were humiliated in Phoenix, 38-8. Rodgers was sacked eight times.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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