NFL

Rodgers leads Packers as Bills end drought with win over Baltimore

The Packers – inspired by Aaron Rodgers – advanced to the NFL title game on as the Bills stayed hot in the NFL playoffs after outclassing Baltimore Ravens.

Rodgers leads Packers as Bills end drought with win over Baltimore

Another year, another NFC Championship Game berth for the Green Bay Packers, who took down the Los Angeles Rams 32-18.

Aaron Rodgers – the top MVP candidate – led the way as the number one Packers advanced to their second successive NFC title game by beating the Rams in the Divisional Round at Lambeau Field on Saturday.

Packers quarterback Rodgers flexed his muscles – finishing 23-of-36 passing for 296 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, while the Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL MVP rushed for another TD.

Rams QB Jared Goff was 21 of 27 for 174 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay, where he was sacked four times.

The Packers, who lost to the San Francisco 49ers in last season's Championship Game, and Rams traded field goals in an evenly contested opening quarter.

But the Packers moved clear after outscoring the Rams 16-7 in the second period – Rodgers throwing a TD pass to Davante Adams and running for his own TD while Goff connected with Van Jefferson as Green Bay took a 19-10 lead into half-time.

Aaron Jones extended the Packers' lead to 25-10 with a one-yard run before Rams star Cam Akers helped close the visitors within seven points of Green Bay.

However, the Packers were too good as Rodgers threw a 58-yard pass to Allen Lazard with less than seven minutes remaining in the final quarter to send Green Bay back to the NFC title contest.

Turning point – Green Bay maintain second-quarter dominance

There is no better team than the Packers in second quarters.

Green Back set an NFL season record for second-quarter points with 205 heading into the postseason. The New England Patriots had previously held the record with 199 in 2007.

The Packers showed why they are so good in second periods after scoring 16 points to move clear of the Rams on Saturday.

Rodgers produces the goods… again

Rodgers showed he is the man for the big stage once again after recording his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns.

According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (10).

Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

What's next?

The Packers – eyeing their first Super Bowl crown since 2010 – will face the winner of the Buccaneers-Saints matchup in the NFC Championship showdown on January 24.

For the Rams, they are left to pick up the pieces after returning to the playoffs following a year absence, having lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Buffalo Bills stay hot 

The Buffalo Bills booked their spot in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 thanks to a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Not since reaching Super Bowl XXVII had the Bills featured in the AFC title decider, but second-seeded Buffalo ended that 27-year drought after downing the Ravens on Saturday.

The Bills used a 14-0 third quarter to progress in the NFL playoffs as the Ravens – seeded fifth – were held scoreless in the second half in windy Buffalo.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen finished 23-of-37 passing for 206 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, while he was sacked twice.

Ravens star Lamar Jackson was 14 of 24 for 162 yards, no touchdowns and an interception before he was ruled out with concussion against the Bills.

The Ravens were made to pay for their inefficient kicking in the opening quarter, which saw Justin Tucker miss two field goals.

Tucker was 11-of-11 on field-goal attempts inside 50 yards in his postseason career, but he was 0-2 on such field goals against Buffalo.

Buffalo's Tyler Bass also missed a field goal, but he managed to convert a 28-yard attempt to give the Bills a 3-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Tucker made no mistake from 34 yards to level the scores at half-time before the Bills took control in the third quarter.

Allen threw a three-yard pass to star team-mate Stefon Diggs with less than 10 minutes to play and Taron Johnson all but ended Baltimore's hopes with a dazzling 101-yard interception return during the closing stages of the period.

Reigning MVP Jackson was ruled out of the fourth quarter due to concussion after taking a hit from Bills defensive end Trent Murphy on the final play of the third period.

Turning point – Bills pull away in third

The Bills and Ravens could not be separated until the game was blown open in the third quarter.

Allen and Diggs combined for the showdown's first TD before Johnson's electric run essentially sealed Baltimore's fate in front of 6,700 fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Divisional Round - Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo BillsORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Bills Stadium on January 16, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.

Johnson matches record

Buffalo's Johnson tied the record for longest intercepted return touchdown in a playoff game, according to NFL Research. Green Bay Packers defensive end George Teague also returned an interception 101 yards for a TD against the Detroit Lions in 1993.

Per Stats Perform, the Bills-Ravens game became the first postseason game where there were three missed field goals in the first half since the 1992 AFC Championship Game between the Bills and Denver Broncos.

What's next?

Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs or Cleveland Browns are next up for the Bills in the AFC Championship Game on January 24.