Until Sunday night.
The Packers, with no pass rush and shaky pass protection, were crushed by the New York Giants 38-10 at MetLife Stadium.
Green Bay saw its five-game winning streak snapped. At 7-4, the Packers fell one game behind Chicago in the NFC North. The Giants improved to 7-4 after losing their last two games before their bye.
While Rodgers never had a chance against a ferocious rush, Manning answered his critics with a record-setting performance. When a replay review rightfully awarded Manning a 13-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks on third-and-goal in the third quarter, it gave Manning 200 career touchdown passes to break Phil Simms' franchise record.
Manning, who was sacked just once and typically had ample protection, finished a so-so 16-of-30 but threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 114.4. Since beating Cleveland and San Francisco to start October, Manning had one touchdown and six interceptions in his previous four games. In his last three games, he never had a passer rating of even 60.
Dating to its run to the Super Bowl in 2010, Green Bay is 28-6 in its last 34 games. Two of the losses have come this calendar year to New York. In last year's playoffs, the Giants rolled 37-20. In the two games, Manning threw six touchdowns and one interception while Rodgers was sacked nine times.
If the playoffs started today, the Packers would be the No. 5 seed and face — you guessed it — the Giants back at MetLife Stadium in the wild-card round.
The Giants scored the opening touchdown — the first points allowed all season on an opening drive — with Andre Brown's 2-yard plunge preceded by a 59-yard gain on a screen to Ahmad Bradshaw. The Packers answered quickly. Jordy Nelson got free on a stop-and-go up the right sideline for a 61-yard touchdown.
The Packers forced a three-and-out punt and drove into scoring position. However, on third-and-3 from the Giants' 35, Rodgers was tripped up by Chris Canty while trying to escape the pocket. Mason Crosby's 55-yard field goal drifted wide to the left, setting up the Giants with great field position and turning the tide.
Their next three possessions resulted in a touchdown, field goal and touchdown to take command at 24-7. The Packers got a chip-shot field goal rather than go for it on fourth-and-inches from just outside the Giants' 10 to cut the margin to 24-10. Green Bay forced a punt and had a chance to make a game of it just before halftime. Instead, Rodgers was sacked and stripped by Osi Umenyiora, with Jason Pierre-Paul's recovery and return setting up the Giants at the Packers' 23. One play later, Bradshaw ran untouched on a draw for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 31-10 at the half.
Rodgers finished 14-of-25 for 219 yards but was sacked five times as New York's defensive line ran roughshod over Green Bay's new-look offensive line. Rodgers had the one touchdown to Nelson but two turnovers.
Entering the game, the Giants were plus-11 in turnovers and the Packers were plus-7. New York went plus-2 on Sunday night. Green Bay couldn't recover two muffed punts by Reuben Randle in the third quarter that might have given it a chance.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.