With Rodgers leading way, Packers look to keep streak going
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers backed up his confidence-boosting ''run-the-table'' statement with a remarkable six-game run of quarterback play that helped get the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.
In the locker room, or on sideline conversations in practice, Rodgers' attitude didn't change. He remained steady, and believed in his teammates whether they were two games under .500 or NFC North champions.
Winners of six straight games, the Packers hope to keep their hot streak going Sunday when they meet the New York Giants in an NFC playoff game.
''The biggest compliment I could give him, he is coming in here every single week and been the same dude,'' center Corey Linsley said Wednesday night after practice. ''No matter when we were 4-3 or 4-6 or where we are now, he's never changed who he is. I think having that kind of consistency, with your leader is huge.''
A strong arm and uncanny knack to extend plays helps a lot, too.
Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdown passes without an interception during the winning streak. In fact, Rodgers hasn't been picked off since Week 10 in a 47-25 loss at Tennessee.
Keep in mind that Rodgers was hurt during much of December, playing with either a sore hamstring or sore calf. Both injuries have subsided, as evidenced by how much Rodgers hurt Detroit last week outside the pocket in a 31-24 win to clinch the NFC North title.
''Inside the pocket he can shred you, he can make all the throws,'' Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. ''To think that such a good passer, you would think they'd get him out of the pocket, damper him, or put some type of uneasiness about him - but no, he's very comfortable outside the pocket.''
Rodgers was 23 of 45 for 259 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the teams' first meeting on Oct. 9, a 23-16 win for Green Bay at Lambeau Field. That was back when the Packers were still trying to find their groove on offense.
Those big-play Packers are back, having scored at least 30 points each of the last four weeks.
But the Giants have changed, too, especially on defense. Just look at how New York flustered the high-octane Washington Redskins in a 19-10 win on the road that eliminated their NFC East foes from playoff contention.
The Giants have the second-best defense in the league, allowing just 17.8 points per game.
''Well, they're playing very good run defense ... and they've got playmakers in their back end,'' coach Mike McCarthy said about the Giants' improvements since the teams met in Week 5.
But they perhaps haven't faced a quarterback on such a hot streak like the roll Rodgers is on now. He remarked that the Packers could ''run the table'' after their record dropped to 4-6, a scenario that seemed unlikely to a lot of people outside of the locker room at Lambeau.
There were certainly other factors at work besides Rodgers' stellar play.
The Packers, at least for a few games, got healthier at the injury-decimated positions of cornerback and linebacker. Converted receiver Ty Montgomery has shown big-play flashes at running back, helping to make up for the season-ending ankle injury to Eddie Lacy in October. Receiver Jordy Nelson and Rodgers are proving to be a dangerous red-zone combination again.
But ''run the table'' stands as a turning point in remarkable late-season rebound in Green Bay. Those six straight wins mean a lot.
''Because guys have confidence and there's an expectation that you're going to win. Whereas before, it was . hope,'' Rodgers said. ''Now, there's an expectation that when we take the field we're going to come away with a `W.'''
Notes: WR Randall Cobb, who missed the last two weeks with an ankle injury, was limited in practice on Wednesday. Cobb appeared to be moving well on the practice field. ''I hope so,'' Cobb said when asked if he would play against the Giants. ''I expected to play last week, but that didn't happen so we'll see.'' ... Joe Thomas, one of the Packers' best linebackers in pass coverage, missed practice after leaving the Lions game with a back injury.
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed to this report.
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