GREEN BAY – The Packers almost threw the knockout punch with Allen Lazard in the third quarter.
Then he got another chance.
Lazard's 58-yard touchdown catch off a play-action fake in the fourth quarter right down the middle of Lambeau Field helped seal Green Bay's 32-18 NFC Divisional playoff victory over the LA Rams on Saturday.
The big play restored the Packers' two-score lead to send them back to another NFC title game, this one at home next Sunday against either the Buccaneers or Saints.
"When the play was called, I was thinking touchdown for sure," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the play-action on second down, with the Packers' defense having just gotten a stop to preserve a 25-18 lead.
"Really tried to sell it, came up off the fake and saw Allen digging. He made a really nice catch, kept his feet and put that thing away."
He had failed to do that two possessions earlier, when on a similar play, bending his route to the outside instead, Rodgers' throw – and a potential 60-yard TD, or a big gain at a minimum – went off his fingertips.
Leading 25-10 at that stage after Aaron Jones' 60-yard run to open the second half set up a touchdown, Green Bay didn't get the commanding three-score advantage it wanted, and never did.
But Lazard, who finished with four catches for 96 yards, certainly redeemed himself.
"Dropping that first one obviously hurt, especially at that time in the game," Lazard said. "It was an unacceptable drop, but thankfully, my coaches, my teammates really trusted me. Aaron threw a good ball for me to go make a play."
Added Head Coach Matt LaFleur: "Big-time play in a big moment."
The touchdown capped an impressive effort by the Packers and their top-ranked scoring offense against the Rams and their top-ranked scoring defense.
The Packers scored the first five times they touched the ball (three TDs, two FGs), then stalled twice before the clinching TD put Green Bay almost right on its regular-season scoring average of 31.8, far ahead of the Rams' average of 18.5 points allowed.
Asked who can stop Green Bay if the league's best defense can't, receiver Davante Adams simply said, "Nobody."
Adams got the Packers' first TD of the night, beating corner Jalen Ramsey on a double-motion from the 1-yard line, on his way to nine catches for 66 yards.
Green Bay's offensive line controlled the trenches, paving the way to 191 rushing yards before kneel-downs and no sacks of Rodgers (23-of-36, 296 yards, two TDs, 108.1 rating). Rams stalwart Aaron Donald and his ailing ribs were rendered a non-factor by guard Elgton Jenkins and others, while the unit as a whole has once again adjusted without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari.
"Stellar is a good word," Rodgers said when asked to describe the line's play. "Because it's rooted in star, and they were the stars of the game tonight. That was a fantastic performance by them. They dominated the line of scrimmage."
Jones finished with 99 rushing yards and a TD on 14 carries, Jamaal Williams added 65 yards on 12 attempts, and rookie AJ Dillon contributed 27 yards on six rushes, his last being a fumble that Rodgers fortunately recovered.
Lambeau Field hosted an NFC Divisional playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.
But the offense never turned it over, and the defense didn't get any takeaways either but did get some key stops down the stretch.
The Rams were feast or famine on offense through three quarters, going three-and-out three times but scoring on their other three drives (two TDs, one FG).
They got the ball once in the second half down by just one score, after Rams running back Cam Akers (18 carries, 90 yards) ran in a 7-yard TD out of the wildcat. But defensive lineman Kenny Clark's second-down sack thwarted the Rams' next drive.
"They were relentless all game," LaFleur said of the Packers' pass rush, which sacked an otherwise efficient Goff (21-of-27, 174 yards, one TD, 105.9 rating) four times. "Our guys stayed resilient up front and kept giving great energy, great effort.
"And that's what it's going to take."
By game's end, Green Bay had nearly doubled the Rams' yardage total (484-244), been far more proficient on third down (8-of-12 vs. 2-for-8) and held a 12½-minute time of possession advantage (36:12 to 23:48).
The Packers would love nothing more than to bottle that formula and bring it back to Lambeau Field – which hosted an official paid attendance (7,439) for the first time this season – in a week.
"We'll enjoy it tonight," LaFleur said, "but we know we're going to have a really tough opponent coming into our place for the NFC Championship Game."