The Green Bay Packers withstood a late rally by Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles to become the third road team to win in four games during the opening round of the National Football League playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes as the Packers won 21-16 yesterday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.
Green Bay’s win came hours after the Baltimore Ravens beat the Chiefs 30-7 in Kansas City, and a day after the New York Jets won 17-16 in Indianapolis. It’s the first time since the 2005-06 postseason that road teams had a 3-1 record in the opening round.
“It’s a huge win for us and now we go to Atlanta,” Rodgers said in a televised interview after his first playoff win. “The defense played great. We had three touchdowns and it was enough to win.”
Green Bay (11-6) held on for its first road playoff win since 1997 when Vick threw an interception in the end zone with 33 seconds left to end the Eagles’ season. The Packers advance to face the Falcons in Atlanta on Jan. 15.
The Chicago Bears host the Seattle Seahawks the following day. Seattle was the lone home team to win during the opening round of the playoffs, defeating the Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints 41-36 two days ago.
The Ravens forced five turnovers and held the Chiefs to 161 yards of offense yesterday at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in setting up a second-round playoff meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Jan. 15 game at Pittsburgh will be the third meeting between the American Football Conference North Division rivals this season. Baltimore won 17-14 at the Steelers in Week 3 of the regular season and lost 13-10 at home on Dec. 5.
The New England Patriots host the Jets in the AFC’s other second-round playoff game on Jan. 16. The Patriots and Jets also split their two regular-season meetings.
The Falcons, Bears, Steelers and Patriots had byes in the first round of the playoffs.
The Eagles’ season began and ended with home losses to the Packers, who made the playoffs as the sixth seed out of six teams in the National Football Conference and did not clinch a spot until the last game of the regular season.
Vick, making his first appearance in a playoff game since the 2005 NFC Championship Game for Atlanta, scored on a 1-yard run with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter to pull the Eagles within 21-16. Philadelphia got the ball back with 1:45 left and drove to the Green Bay 27-yard line before Vick’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by Tramon Williams.
‘I Got Greedy’
“I feel like I got greedy and took a shot at the end zone,” said Vick, who returned as a starter this season and was voted into the Pro Bowl after missing two NFL seasons while in jail on dog-fighting convictions. “I didn’t throw the right ball I wanted to throw. It’s a bad way to go out, but hey, I went out swinging.”
The teams previously met in Week 1 of the regular season, when Vick took over for injured starter Kevin Kolb and almost rallied the Eagles from a 20-3 deficit. Green Bay won that game 27-20.
Rookie running back James Starks had 123 yards rushing for the Packers yesterday after totaling 101 yards in three regular-season appearances. Pro Bowl kicker David Akers missed field goal attempts of 41 yards and 34 yards for the Eagles, who also lost their final two regular-season games.
The Ravens sent the Chiefs to a seventh straight playoff loss by intercepting Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel three times and forcing two fumbles.
Baltimore scored on five straight possessions during one stretch, starting with Joe Flacco’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Ray Rice that gave the Ravens the lead for good 19 seconds before halftime. Billy Cundiff kicked two of his three field goals in the third quarter and Flacco pushed the Ravens’ lead to 23-7 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.
That score came after the Ravens got the ball at the Kansas City 31-yard line following an interception of Cassel, who was held to 70 yards passing. Willis McGahee had a 25-yard touchdown run with 4:26 remaining to cap the scoring for Baltimore.
“It was a good physical game,” Flacco, who had 265 yards passing, said at a news conference. “We were able to get some turnovers and pop out (to a lead). It feels good to do that in the first round of the playoffs.”
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