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OAKLAND, Calif. - Like it has for most of the season, the Green Bay Packers’ defense again answered the bell Sunday.

The performance was by no means perfect, but the defense gave the Packers points when they needed them early and kept the Oakland Raiders out of the end zone late. It stopped the Raiders three times in the first quarter with Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall intercepting Derek Carr on back-to-back plays.

The Packers also prevented the Raiders from scoring on their last five possessions, including three consecutive four-and-outs to seal the game despite Oakland out-producing Green Bay 372-293 in total yards.

“Three four-and-outs to finish a game is big, especially when they were moving the ball pretty good on us the whole game,” Hyde said. “For us to go out there and get some stops at the end and not allow them to get any closer, it’s something we can build off of.”

Packers in playoffs, not out of woods

The defense was challenged in the second quarter when running back James Starks fumbled with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the first half. The Raiders’ two-minute offense scored less than a minute later when Amari Cooper caught a 19-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-13.

Two more explosive passes from Carr to Cooper, including a 41-yard touchdown, gave Oakland its only lead of the day (20-17) with 6:54 left in the third quarter. That letdown was the last time Green Bay’s defense allowed the Raiders to score, finishing by forcing back-to-back punts and then three turnovers on downs.

One of Julius Peppers’ 2½ sacks ended the Raiders’ bid to respond after the Packers’ long series in the fourth quarter. It’s the turnaround the Packers were looking for after three rough performances against San Diego, Denver and Carolina during the middle of the year. They’ll face an even greater test next Sunday against Arizona and the Cardinals’ top-ranked offense.

“When everyone was ruling us out and saying what they had to say, we kept our head low and just went about our business,” Hyde said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s big. There’s a lot of teams that can’t say that. Just try to keep winning, just try to keep improving, so when playoff time comes we can hit the ground running.”

whodkiew@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod

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