GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP/WFAN)– The Green Bay Packers set up a season finale with a playoff berth on the line. The New York Giants were 800 miles away from home with a postseason shot nearly as long.
Aaron Rodgers returned from a concussion to throw for 404 yards and four touchdowns and the Packers routed the Giants 45-17 on Sunday while a blizzard blanketed New York, forcing them to spend the night in Wisconsin.
“Depressing. It would’ve been a lot easier with a win. Nothing we can do about it though,” Giants tight end Kevin Boss said. “(Usually) you go home to your family and kind of lick your wounds, but you’re stuck here by yourself and it’s not going to be the greatest time.”
The Giants (9-6) returned to the team hotel in Appleton and hoped to leave Monday morning. “Hopefully, because we’re all together, we will, I’m sure, spend some time together in the dining room or the dining hall,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “But there’s no denying what took place. Facts are facts. We’re responsible for it. I’m responsible for it. So, we have to live with it.” The facts are ugly for New York, which turned the ball over six times a week after squandering a 31-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter in a devastating loss to Philadelphia. A win over the Packers (9-6) would’ve clinched a playoff berth for New York.
Instead, the Giants were left looking at a bunch of messy scenarios that will begin playing out when New Orleans faces Atlanta on Monday night. The Saints, Buccaneers, Packers and Giants could all finish 10-6 with only two teams advancing. New Orleans and Green Bay control their postseason hopes _ win and they’re in. Rodgers hoped for a little more. “I wouldn’t mind Philly losing so maybe Chicago locks up that two (seed) and they might rest some of those studs they’ve got on defense,” the quarterback said. “But no, this has been an up and down year. A lot of things have happened both positively and negatively that we might not have expected, but we go into the last game of the season with a chance to make the playoffs with a win and that’s all we can ask for right now.”
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said he was shocked at how badly the Packers beat them in a game that was tied at 14 less than 2 minutes before halftime. “I don’t think mentally we were thinking about Philly, I think we came out here mentally prepared to play a great game,” Tuck said. “They had a lot to play for and they just played harder than we did. It’s a sick feeling in my stomach to be able to say that, considering what we had at stake.”
Eli Manning threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but also had four interceptions a week after the Giants allowed the Eagles to score 28 points in the final 7 1/2minutes. “I’ve got to pull the trigger, so if you have interceptions, it’s my fault and we had four today. There’s not one that wasn’t my fault, so I’ve got to be smarter with the ball,” Manning said. John Kuhn ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for a score for the Packers, who will host division-rival Chicago in their final regular-season game next Sunday.
Rodgers sat out last week in a loss at New England because of his second concussion of the season. Greg Jennings caught seven passes for 142 yards for Green Bay in the first game the Giants played at Lambeau Field since winning the NFC title game here nearly three years ago.
Now, New York will spend some more unwanted time in Wisconsin. “It’s a good time to come out and see what the farmers look like,” Brandon Jacobs said, trying to make light of the bad situation. “We’ve got to deal with the elements the way they are. We’re not happy about it, guys want to go home. I have a wife and two kids at home, I definitely would like to go back home to them, but it is what it is and you’ve got to deal with it.”
Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled at midfield early in the third quarter, Jacobs lost one of his own and Manning threw three interceptions in the second half after his two first-half TD passes tied it at 14 before Kuhn’s 8-yard touchdown run gave Green Bay a 21-14 halftime lead.
“When we have a red-zone meeting, we don’t sit there and talk about John Kuhn, but I think our fans think we do,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “John is one of the veteran leaders on our team. He’s a tough guy, he’s a detailed guy, he’s a smart guy. He knows what to do when you put him in position to be successful.” The stakes of were evident early. Both teams got into a shoving match early along the New York sideline, and Terrell Thomas’ openhanded smack of Donald Driver after the cornerback made a nice tackle drew a personal foul penalty just before the 2-minute warning. “We came out,” Tuck said. “And we played like we didn’t have anything to play for.”