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Packers rout Vikings, keep playoff hopes alive

GREEN BAY – The Packers have been playing for their playoff lives for nearly a month. If that is indeed the case, their magical winter run just keeps on churning.

In 2010, Green Bay needed to win their final two regular season games to reach the playoffs. They snuck in as the No. 6 seed and ran the table all the way to a Super Bowl XLV title.

In 2016, following quarterback Aaron Rodgers now famous “run the table” statement, the-then 4-6 Packers  won their final six regular season games, their wild card matchup, and their divisional round game to reach the NFC Championship Game.

So, is this an every six-year phenomenon?

It is impossible to say right now, but what is happening in Titletown the last month has been special, as Green Bay has won their last four games to square their record at 8-8 with one game left to play.

Sunday, knowing that they already received help from the Cleveland Browns when they defeated the Washington Commanders earlier in the day, Green Bay came out on fire.

Unfortunately, it was a dumpster fire at first, but one that was quickly – very quickly – extinguished and they never relented, routing NFC North Champion Minnesota 41-17 at Lambeau Field.

The game wasn’t that close.

But yes, the game began with disaster for the Packers.

On Green Bay’s opening possession, a three-and-out was punctuated by Pat O’Donnell’s punt being blocked by Minnesota’s Josh Metellus, giving the Vikings the ball at the Packers one-yard line.

Three straight defensive stops brought in the field goal unit, and despite an early deficit, the Packers rode a wave of momentum that continued for the rest of the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Keisean Nixon electrified the crowd with a 105-yard touchdown return and Green Bay never looked back.

Two possessions later, Kirk Cousins’ short pass over the middle was picked off by Packers safety Darnell Savage and returned 75 yards for Green Bay’s second return score before five minutes had ticked off the clock.

Aaron Rodgers only touchdown pass, a 21-yard strike to Robert Tonyan late in the second quarter made the score 24-3 and was more than Minnesota could handle. The first half ended when Mason Crosby’s desperation 56-yard field goals attempt as time expired hit off the crossbar and went through for a 27-3 lead, and Green Bay was off to the races.

Looking at the playoff picture, the path to the postseason for the Packers is now clear. Defeat Detroit in Week 18 and they are in.

They do not need anyone’s help anymore because they have already gotten it.

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