Aaron Rodgers has made sure he will play an NFC championship game at home for the first time in his NFL career by leading the Green Bay Packers past the Los Angeles Rams 32-18.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and also ran for a score for the top-seeded Packers as their potent offence overpowered the Rams’ vaunted defence.
The Packers didn’t allow any sacks despite playing without injured All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, while Green Bay sacked Jared Goff four times.
The Packers reached the NFC championship game for the fourth time in the past seven seasons and their first at Lambeau Field since hosting for the 2007 season – when they lost to the New York Giants in overtime.
Green Bay will host either Tampa Bay Bucaneers or New Orleans Saints, who play on Sunday, with a spot in the Super Bowl at stake.
The Packers hosted the Rams in front of 8,456 fans – a crowd that included paying spectators for the first time all season – but that small crowd made plenty of noise as the hosts built an early lead with snow flurries falling for much of the first half.
That crowd changed “M! V! P!” during the closing minutes to salute All-Pro quarterback Rodgers.
“It’s special,” Rodgers said.
“There’s absolutely nothing like it. We have really missed that part of this experience.
“To run out of the tunnel tonight with fans was unbelievable. It’s hard to explain how much the presence means on the field and just having that energy from the crowd.”
Buoyed by that crowd, the Packers often seemed on the verge of putting the game away before they finally did so with a 58-yard completion from Rodgers to Allen Lazard with about seven minutes to play.
Rodgers went 23 of 36 for 296 yards, while Aaron Jones ran for 99 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.
Goff was 21 of 27 for 174 yards and a touchdown less than three weeks after undergoing thumb surgery, and Cam Akers rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown.