Playoff-bound Packers beat Raiders
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Green Bay Packers improved to 10-4 and clinched an NFC playoff berth Sunday with a 30-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum.
The Packers actually got into the playoffs before their game finished when the New York Giants lost to the Carolina Panthers earlier in the day.
Nevertheless, Green Bay is in the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
» Turning point: The Packers were trailing 20-17 after Amari Cooper’s second touchdown catch in the third quarter, but Jeff Janis’ return on the ensuing kickoff went 47 yards to give Green Bay the ball at midfield. A 15-yard pass to Jared Abbrederis and an 8-yard pass to James Jones set up a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jones, who slipped between the cornerback and late-arriving safety to give the Packers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
» Putting it away: On the Packers’ next possession, they put the game away for good. They set season records for most plays (19) in a scoring drive and the most yards (92) when Mason Crosby’s 21-yard field goal gave them a 27-20 lead with 10 minutes to go in the game. The Packers were 3-for-3 on third downs on the drive.
» Best offense is defense: While the offense was gaining only 97 yards in the first half, the defense nearly matched that, gaining 77 on two interception returns on back-to-back plays. On Oakland’s second possession, Micah Hyde jumped under a route and picked off a Derek Carr pass, returning it 34 yards to the 2-yard line. On Carr’s next pass, following John Kuhn’s 5-yard touchdown run, rookie cornerback Damarious Randall intercepted a pass thrown high to Seth Roberts and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
»Up and down Randall: Randall had an up-and-down performance guarding fellow rookie Amari Cooper. His first-quarter pick-6 was the highlight, but he gave up two touchdown passes to Cooper. On the first, he appears to get caught out of place guarding the back of the end zone in zone coverage. On the second, he had decent position on Cooper, but was a step slow and Cooper hauled in a 26-yard touchdown catch to give the Raiders a 20-17 lead with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
»O woes continue: The Packers’ first-half offense reverted back to its problematic start to the season. Green Bay began the game with two straight three-and-outs and punted on four of its seven possessions. On the other three, they scored after getting the ball at Oakland’s 17-yard line, fumbled and had time expire in the first half. They gained only 97 yards and their 14 first-half points can be credited to interceptions by their defense.