The player: Some of it is circumstance. After all, during the Packers' 18-game winning streak, they've never trailed in the fourth quarter and had been tied just once before Sunday. Nonetheless, Rodgers had just five game-winning drives in his career — as many as Tim Tebow in 10 career starts. The last of Rodgers' comebacks came in last year's season finale against Chicago, with Rodgers' 1-yard touchdown pass to Donald Lee just 2:18 into the fourth quarter snapping a 3-3 tie and providing the decisive score in a 10-3 victory. Rodgers now has six game-winning drives, and this was truly a winning drive – 4-of-4 completions for 68 yards and the winning field goal as time expired.
The moment: The Packers needed to move the ball about 40 or 45 yards in the final 58 seconds and had just one timeout. They did so on the first two plays, with Rodgers hitting Jermichael Finley for 24 yards and Jordy Nelson for 27. It was the first play that was key, Rodgers said.
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"That kind of determines the drive," Rodgers said. "If we had an incomplete pass or maybe a 5-yard gain, you're probably on the ball and by the time you get another play off, you're looking at under 45 seconds and it's probably less likely that you're going to get a chance to get in range. To be honest, you're thinking, unless we get some yards on the first couple of plays, you're probably going to look to overtime."
The key: Giants coach Tom Coughlin often talks about finishing games, and the Giants' defense, while putting forth an improved performance, came up short of that goal especially on the Packers' final possession. On the game-winning drive, Rodgers completed 4-of-4 pass attempts for 68 yards to set up the game-winning, 31-yard field goal by Crosby.
"He's a great quarterback, but I expect more out of us on defense. You know, it's not like Jesus in cleats. He's Aaron Rodgers. He's a great quarterback, but we have to do a better job of finishing on defense," Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson said.
Packers said: "We dropped some passes today but we caught 'em when they counted. But, hey, this wasn't our best performance. A lot of points on the board, but we had adversity football and our offense stepped up and nailed it shut when we needed it. We're very happy to get out of here with a win. We knew it was going to be tough when we talked about it all week coming in here. This is a class organization. This is a tough stage to play in and it was a tough game. I'm sure it was a fun game to watch." — coach Mike McCarthy
Giants said: "As a competitor, you want those situations. You want that situation where you can shut it down and make sure the offense gets another opportunity. ... I think we did a great job up until that point of at least making them drive — not really giving up the big, big plays. And then we give up two back to back and that kind of breaks your back. But we just have to find a way to make sure they don't get into field goal range there. (We weren't) able to do it. But you have to give those guys credit. They were in those games like that and they've won now, 18 straight for a reason. Like I said, you have to knock them out. You can't allow them to linger around and think that things are just going to go your way. They're the champs. They're going to get every call. The ball is going to bounce their way and you have to outplay them. I think tonight we played to a draw up until that last field goal. Like I said, you have to knock them out." — Giants DE Justin Tuck.
Extra points: Charles Woodson (concussion), Andrew Quarless ("significant knee sprain") and James Starks (ankle sprain) were the game-ending injuries mentioned by McCarthy. ... With Clay Matthews' interception return for a touchdown, the Packers have a league-high four players with pick-sixes and 16 total players have scored touchdowns. ... With a passer rating of 106.2, Rodgers' NFL-record streak of 11 consecutive games with 110-plus ratings was snapped. However, he's the only quarterback with 100-plus ratings in 12 consecutive games. ... Rodgers broke a tie with Brett Favre (1995 and 2007) for the team record with his eighth 300-yard game of the season. ... Rodgers has thrown at least two touchdowns passes in all 12 games. Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas were the only quarterbacks in NFL history to do it in the first 11 games of a season. ... The Packers, who had never started a season 6-0 on the road, are 7-0 away from Lambeau Field and have clinched their best road record for a season since the 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978. They went 6-2 in 2004 and 2007. ... In 2007, the Giants lost 38-35 as New England capped a perfect regular season.
Chiefs 10, Bears 3
Key: The Chiefs scored the game's only touchdown on a half-ending Hail Mary, and their defense sacked Bears QB Caleb Hanie seven times and intercepted three passes. Six of the sacks and all three interceptions came in the second half after the Chiefs established their seven-point lead. Said center Roberto Garza: "Obviously, we have to play better up front."
Chiefs said: "Our team understood the type of game they had to play." — coach Todd Haley
Bears said: "We just missed opportunities. That's the name of the game." — quarterback Caleb Hanie
Panthers 38, Buccaneers 19
Key: Panthers rookie Cam Newton set a record for most touchdown runs by a quarterback when he rushed for three scores, giving him 13 on the season. The previous mark of 12 was set by the Patriots' Steve Grogan in 1976.
Panthers said: "He certainly is getting better and better and week and I think he's growing inside our offense. That's the big plus. He's getting a great feel and an understanding for what we want to do and need to do. He's a dynamic personality in terms of this offense." — coach Ron Rivera on Newton
Bucs said: "He's a talent, he's a beast, he's got it all. He can throw, he can run. He can make the passes most quarterbacks can't. He's on fire now. Kudos to him." — linebacker Geno Hayes on Newton
Dolphins 34, Raiders 14
Key: The Raiders came in with the league's fourth-ranked rushing offense, but they were completely stymied by a Dolphins defense that ranked seventh against the run. Playing again without Darren McFadden, the Raiders rushed 14 times for just 46 yards, a 3.3-yard average. The long gain was 15 yards by wide receiver Louis Murphy on an end-around.
Dolphins said: "Our whole attitude has changed. Our whole demeanor has changed. Our swagger has changed. This team is a lot looser now and not playing uptight, not preparing uptight, not acting uptight, and that shows on Sunday." — linebacker Jason Taylor
Raiders said: "After a loss like this there's really not much to say other than we just got outplayed in every phase of the game. We just got physically beat today, which is discouraging." — quarterback Carson Palmer
Steelers 35, Bengals 7
Key: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was a non factor as he threw for 135 yards, completing 11 of 24 passes. In his previous two games, the rookie had passed for 373 yards against Baltimore and 270 yards against Cleveland.
Bengals said: "We just got outplayed. We just got beat." — Dalton
Steelers said: "We were able to break the pocket down with pressure. It didn't necessarily manifest itself in terms of sacks but we broke the pocket down and got Andy Dalton moving a little bit." — coach Mike Tomlin
Patriots 31, Colts 24
Key: Tight end Rob Gronkowski scored three touchdowns, the third changed from a pass catch to a lateral, and the Patriots outscored the winless Colts 28-3 in the second and third quarter before a late Indy charge made the score respectable.
Colts said: "I wish we had more time on the clock." — QB Don Orlovsky after leading his team to three fourth-quarter touchdowns that left Indianapolis a touchdown short of catching the Patriots.
Patriots said: "It's kind of disappointing to be honest with you. Even though it's a win and it's hard to win games in the National Football League, you want to finish so much stronger than that." — LB Jerod Mayo on the Colts' 21 fourth-quarter points.
Cardinals 19, Cowboys 13
Key: The Cowboys had a chance to win the game in regulation, but three penalties cost them dearly. The first was an illegal block in the back on a punt return when they initially got the ball. The second was a false start on first-and-10 at their own 45, which was immediately followed by a delay-of-game penalty. The Cowboys withstood those mistakes to put Dain Bailey in position to win the game with a 49-yard field goal. However, coach Jason Garrett signaled for a timeout just before Bailey kicked his first attempt through the uprights. On his second attempt, Bailey missed wide and to the left, which allowed the Cardinals to win in overtime.
Cardinals said: "It's a great feeling. When you're in a tight spot like that, our team knows we can overcome it. Nobody's panicking, and we're all working hard to the end." — RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
Cowboys said: "We felt like the play clock was winding down. We just wanted to make sure we had a real clean opportunity at it. We were at about six (seconds), and we were still getting settled in, so we banged the timeout just to get an opportunity to snap well and get the kick as clean as possible." — Coach Jason Garrett, on his decision to call timeout just before his kicker, Dan Bailey, attempted a 49-yard field goal near the end of regulation
49ers 26, Rams 0
Key: The 49ers were unable to capitalize on their early red-zone opportunities, but the defense never allowed the Rams to get on track. The Rams were unable to move past the 49ers' 45-yard line, and Alex Smith emerged in the second half with two touchdown passes. Smith finished with a career-best 142.3 passer rating.
Rams said: "Hopefully one day, we, as the St. Louis Rams, we will be able to have that title again" — Running back Steven Jackson.
49ers said: "There's more out there for us, and we're already talking about that." — Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Ravens 24, Browns 10
Key: The Browns had no answer for the Ravens ground assault. The Ravens rushed for 290 yards and collected 16 first downs rushing.
Browns said: "We knew they were going to run the ball and we just have to do a better job up front." — defensive end Jabaal Sheard
Ravens said: "This was a team victory. It was won up front on both sides, offensive and defensive lines." — coach John Harbaugh
Texans 17, Falcons 10
Key: Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates did just enough to give the Texans their ninth win of the season. The former UNC Tar Heel threw for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown, and only turned the ball over once.
Falcons said: "They've got the best record in the AFC (and this game was) a measuring stick for our team here in December. It is a concern, but that's by far the best team we've played." — Falcons coach Mike Smith.
Texans said: "This kid had a lot of ups and down at North Carolina. He had a lot of good times and a lot of bad times, and that's being a quarterback. So I think that's what has gotten him here." — Texans coach Gary Kubiak on Yates.
Jets 34, Redskins 19
Key: Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes got behind Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson for an 18-yard touchdown catch with 4:49 remaining that proved to be the winning score.
Jets said: "Santonio ... he had (just) four catches (but) he's here to be a difference-maker and when we needed it the most, he made a huge play." -- Jets coach Rex Ryan
Redskins said: "Guys have got to be accountable. It's a shame (if it's true). It's definitely going to hurt us if they miss the last four games." -- Redskins co-captain Lorenzo Alexander on reports that TE Fred Davis and LT Trent Williams face four-game suspensions for third failed drug tests
Broncos 35, Vikings 32
Key: The Vikings had the ball at their 20, with the game tied and 1:33 left on the clock. But Christian Ponder's pass was intercepted by Andre Goodman and returned 15 yards to the Vikings' 15, setting up Matt Prater's game-winning field goal. It was Ponder's second interception and third turnover of the day.
Broncos said: "I think because we've been in these situations it makes us more comfortable. But I think overall we could on the guy next to us. We trust the guy next to us and lay it all on the line on every play. When that's our mentality, and you have that perseverance until the clock hits zero -- and maybe even after that -- we're going to keep believing." — quarterback Tim Tebow
Vikings said: "We couldn't tackle the run in the second half to save our lives. We couldn't get them on the ground in the second half, period. I don't know how many points we gave up in the second half. It's ridiculous." — defensive end Jared Allen, who had a safety, a sack and a recovered fumble
Titans 23, Bills 17
Key: Chris Johnson's running set the tone. He had 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the first half as the Titans built a lead they never relinquished.
Titans said: "In order for us to get down to the last game of the season we have to continue to handle our own business and keep winning every week." Running back Chris Johnson on Tennessee's playoff hopes
Bills said: "I think the reason we lost was fundamentals. You've got to block. You've got to tackle. You've got to take care of the football. Those are things we didn't do today." — coach Chan Gailey.