Quick game story:
Here’s an excerpt of Mike Jones’s first take:
With the third-quarter clock ticking down, and the heat coming on second and long, Aaron Rodgers fired a rope of a pass 15 yards to wide receiver Randall Cobb at the 50-yard line — two yards beyond the first-down markers. A smile crept across Rodgers’s face as the quarter ended.
As of late, smiles have been infrequent for the Green Bay Packers as they entered Sunday’s first-round playoff game against the Washington Redskinsat FedEx Field having lost two straight. Opponents had exploited an injury-riddled offensive line and battered Rodgers, robbing him of his usual magic.
But on Sunday evening, order had been restored. The 2014 NFL MVP proved too masterful for the Redskins’ defense. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s defense found ways to cool off Kirk Cousins and his offense after impressive displays early in the game and to start the second half. And so, with a 35-18 defeat to Rodgers & Co., the Redskins’ turnaround season came to an end.
Rodgers and his teammates used that 10-play, 76-yard, 5-minute 39-second drive that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth — which was capped by a two-yard Eddie Lacy touchdown run — to take the wind out of the Redskins’ sails.
More on the game:
Green Bay beats Washington, 35-18, to end the Redskins’ season and complete a sweep of road teams over home division winners in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Packers will travel to Arizona next week.
Washington, meantime, had its four-game win streak snapped and finishes 9-8. Stay tuned for the game story, best/worst, three columnists, The Wrap video and much more.
Early fourth quarter
Green Bay put together a 10-play, 78-yard scoring drive that spanned the end of the third and start of the fourth. Eddie Lacy scored from two yards out, and then Aaron Rodgers hit Jared Abbrederis for the two-point conversion and 14-point lead, at 32-18. There are 12 minutes 23 seconds left in Washington’s season unless they close the gap.
Mid third quarter
Green Bay lined up on fourth and 1 at the Redskins’ 45, then took a timeout to get its bearings. The short-yardage call was Eddie Lacy running left, and the maligned Packers tailback converted with room to spare. The next play was a 30-yard run by Lacy, and the play after, James Starks swept right and into the end zone.
Packers are back in front, 24-18.
And after the 11-yard run, Lacy keeps rolling. Thirty-yard gain this time. First-and-goal at the 4.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) January 10, 2016
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) January 11, 2016
Early third quarter
Washington caps the first drive of the half with a Kirk Cousins touchdown run — an empty backfield, quarterback draw — to retake the lead, 18-17, with 9:42 to play in the third. More detail and more frequent updates on our live blog.
Green Bay fell behind, 11-0, but has scored three times in a row to take a 17-11 lead into the half. Washington gets the ball to start the second half. Green Bay is outgaining Washington, 171-158, and the Redskins have the game’s only turnover, a Kirk Cousins fumble caused by Mike Neal with 6:05 left in the second quarter. It led to a Packers field goal.
Winner goes to Arizona
Washington trails 17-11 at halftime of its first-round playoff game against Green Bay. If it wins, it goes to Arizona for an 8:15 p.m. kickoff Saturday night against the Cardinals.
The other three matchups are set, and the top-seeded teams that had a bye this weekend (Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers and Arizona) each host.
Here’s the second-round schedule. All divisional playoff kickoff times are Eastern:
Saturday, 4:35 p.m.: Kansas City Chiefs at New England (TV: CBS)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.: Green Bay or Washington at Arizona (NBC)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m.: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina (Fox)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m.: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver (CBS)
Packers bounce right back
There are more in-depth updates on our live blog, but quickly: Aaron Rodgers capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. It took 3 minutes 58 seconds, but it felt faster than that, maybe because twice during the drive, Rodgers hurried the Packers to the line and got the ball snapped while Washington was substituting on defense. That happened on the scoring toss, resulting in what is essentially a free play for Rodgers.
Early second quarter:
The Redskins ended the first quarter with a 5-0 advantage, and Kirk Cousins found Jordan Reed streaking down the middle for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Dustin Hopkins plunked the 33-yard point after off the right upright, so the score remains one you rarely see: 11-0.
Earlier on the drive, as pointed out by our Dan Worthington, Reed made maybe an even more important play. He stuck out his hand and caught a pass intended for DeSean Jackson. Cornerback Casey Hayward broke on the ball and probably would have intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown if not for Reed snagging it. So instead of 6-5 or 7-5, it’s 11-0.
Up by five:
The Redskins take a 5-0 lead, but it briefly looked like 9-0. DeSean Jackson made a catch on a crossing route and got his foot inside the pylon. But the ball hadn’t crossed the goal line, so when he went out of bounds, the ball was at the half yard line. It was originally called a touchdown but was reviewed automatically, as all scoring plays are. The officials took the TD off the board, and Washington had first and goal.
Alfred Morris was stuffed twice on runs, and on third down from the 2, Washington took a delay-of-game penalty. From the 7-yard line, Kirk Cousins tried to fire a bullet into Pierre Garcon in the middle of the end zone, but Packers safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix came over the top and batted the ball down.
Points on the board:
With Green Bay backed up after the teams traded punts early, Preston Smith beats replacement tackle J.C. Tretter with a bull rush off the right hand side and sacks Aaron Rodgers in the end zone. Washington leads, 2-0, with 10:52 to play in the first. More updates on the live blog, linked above.
In case you missed the intro, we update the live blog frequently during the game, and this thread gets updated rarely, usually at the quarter marks. Feel free to stay and discuss the game in the comments section, however. We’ve got live stats above, and everything else you need to second screen the game.
It’s 53 degrees and windy out at FedEx Field. Redskins kicked off to Green Bay; The Packers won the toss, so the Redskins get the ball to start the second half.
Redskins had Blackmon, Breeland and Dunbar in the nickel package, with Hall and Goldson as the safeties. Big stage for rookie Dunbar.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) January 10, 2016
Washington Redskins rookie running back Matt Jones will miss his third straight game on Sunday in a first-round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field. Jones has been sidelined because of a hip injury.
Washington will roll with Alfred Morris, Chris Thompson and Pierre Thomas in the backfield once again. Jones is one of the seven Redskins players on the inactive list, along with quarterback Robert Griffin III, linebacker Perry Riley Jr., cornerback Jeremy Harris, defensive end Frank Kearse, guard Arie Kouandjio and tight end Marcel Jensen.
While there aren’t any other surprises on Washington’s inactive list, the Packers will be without left tackle David Bakhtiari. He was listed as questionable with an ankle injury. JC Tretter is expected to start for Bakhtiari.
— Master Tesfatsion
CB Jeremy Harris
LB Perry Riley Jr.
DE Frank Kearse
G Arie Kouandjio
TE Marcel Jensen
QB Robert Griffin III
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) January 10, 2016
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) January 10, 2016
From Packers.com, here are Green Bay’s inactives:
“7 QB Brett Hundley
37 CB Sam Shields
69 T David Bakhtiari
79 G Josh Walker
80 TE Justin Perillo
86 TE Kennard Backman
91 LB Jayrone Elliott
Starting lineup changes: No. 73 JC Tretter will start in place of No. 69 David Bakhtiari at left tackle. No. 23 Damarious Randall will start in place of No. 37 Sam Shields at cornerback.”
Early scenes from FedEx Field:
The best pregame feeds from FedEx are usually on Twitter, via Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) wandering the tailgates and Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) strolling on field level. But here are a few shots from Associated Press photographers at the game. We’ll post a photo gallery from our shooters later this evening.
What they’re writing in Wisconsin:
Further down is our intro, the basics and a collection of Washington-themed pregame reading. Here, however, is what folks who cover the Packers are writing about the game:
Rodgers needs to cut it loose (Green Bay Press-Gazette)
Green Bay’s quarterback “said he probably has to go into this weekend’s wild-card playoff game at Washington with something closer to the let-it-fly mentality that has worked in comeback mode in the fourth quarter of several games this season.”
Experts from other teams see problems with Packers’ offense (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“The Journal Sentinel sought out five NFL experts with impeccable reputations in coaching and scouting to offer their thoughts about the Packers’ offense. All asked not to have their identities revealed because they were speaking about a team with which they aren’t employed.”
No one on the Packers has faced Kirk Cousins in the NFL (ESPN)
Green Bay DB Micah Hyde faced him in college, but Washington’s QB is unfamiliar.
Of 17 Packers on injured list, two stand out (The Sporting News)
Spoiler: They’re CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhtiari.
Matchups Green Bay can exploit (Packer Report)
The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s predictions
It’s not unanimous among their four-man staff.
By kickoff, Packers should know where a win sends them (Packers.com)
“The Seattle-Minnesota result will determine the destination for the Green Bay-Washington winner for the next round of the NFC playoffs.”
It’s the playoff opener, so by way of an intro, there isn’t a whole lot to be said that hasn’t been said this week. But to recap, Green Bay is coming in 10-6 but just 4-6 over its past 10 games. Washington is 7-3 over that stretch, but is 0-3 against teams that finished above .500. The Packers are missing some key players, including cornerback Sam Shields, but as long as they have quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they’re a threat to score. Kirk Cousins, with a healthy DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, has made Washington a similar threat.
This is the Insider’s running game thread. It’s for discussion, but will update leading up to and throughout the game, so refresh from time to time. We’ll include everything you could possibly need to follow the game online, beginning with pregame reading, what they’re saying in Green Bay, TV and radio information and other basics. Inactives post about 90 minutes before the 4:40 p.m. kickoff. At that point, and throughout the game, there are frequent updates on our live blog, and this thread updates infrequently, usually at the quarter breaks. At game’s end, this thread will point toward the quick version of the game story and the D.C. Sports Bog’s best and worst, and that’ll be it here — the postgame news conferences and traditional coverage continue in separate Insider posts.
No. 5 seed Green Bay Packers (10-6) at No. 4 seed Washington Redskins (9-7)
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. ET at FedEx Field
TV: Ch. 5 (Fox).
Radio: 980 AM; 92.7 and 94.3 FM. SiriusXM: SIRI 82, SXM and XM 225, internet 831.
Line: Redskins by 1, o/u 45.
Box score: After kickoff, will update every 60 seconds
Game preview: From Stats, Inc.; click here.
Redskins roster | Depth chart | Injury report
Packers roster | Depth chart | Injury report
NFL wild-card weekend scoreboard
NFL latest news from The Post & wild-card game roundup
Brewer: To evolve as a coach, Gruden learned to sit down and shut up
After a trying first season, delegating duties and dialing back his honesty made Redskins coach a more effective leader.
Nothing is improbable about Kirk Cousins’s rapid ascent
Through a meticulous work ethic and dedication even when it didn’t look good, Kirk Cousins progressed from backup to starter to star.
Steinberg: Starting a new job is hard. Try starting before a playoff game
Starting a new job stinks. Starting a new job in a new city stinks more. And starting a new job in a new city a few days or weeks before millions will watch your work? Well, I’m not jealous, anyhow.
Where would the Redskins be without Jordan Reed? Outside the playoff field.
Washington’s tight end, healthy for 14 games this season, turned in an 11-touchdown breakout year.
Packers view playoff opener at FedEx Field as a stop on ‘hero’s journey’
Coach Mike McCarthy sets a theme for each season, and Green Bay’s 6-0 start, followed by the challenges of losing six of the past 10, fit his narrative.
The five moments that fueled the Redskins’ turnaround
Mike Jones pinpoints the occurrences that turned this season from ho-hum to ‘oh, wow.’
● Experts are torn on which team to pick.
● Here’s one thing each playoff team does better than the rest.
Our live blog begins to populate with posts about 90 minutes before the 4:40 p.m. kickoff and runs through game’s end. This thread has been updated; it first posted at 4 p.m. on Saturday.