GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers, master of the Hail Mary pass, struck again in another big moment.
Rodgers overcame a sluggish start and finished with four touchdown passes, including a momentum-swinging 42-yard heave to Randall Cobb at the end of the second quarter, to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 38-13 win Sunday over the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.
The Packers move on to face the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round next week.
Rodgers was 25 of 40 for 362 yards, continuing a remarkable run of quarterback play that helped the Packers win their final six games of the regular season to take the NFC North. Cobb finished with five receptions for 116 yards and three scores.
For much of the first half, the Giants’ defense flustered the two-time NFL MVP. They got pressure on Rodgers and the secondary blanketed the Packers’ talented receiving corps , and a few boos even rained down from the stands after New York built a 6-0 lead on two field goals by Robbie Gould.
As it turned out, Rodgers was just getting started.
“We hit a Hail Mary. That got us going,” Rodgers said.
Green Bay scored two touchdowns in the final 2:20 of the second quarter, punctuated by another remarkable desperation pass by Rodgers.
With the ball on the Giants 42, Rodgers took the snap with 6 seconds left. He rolled to his right before heaving a throw from about the Packers 47. Cobb somehow got behind three defensive backs near the back of the end zone to haul in the pass, getting both feet down before falling out of bounds.
The Giants looked stunned, just like how the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals looked last season after Rodgers pulled off similar feats.
“Davante (Adams) made a bunch of plays,” Rodgers said. “And Randall Cobb, who this offense has been missing for a long time. We’re better with 18 on the field and he showed it tonight.”
Rodgers and Cobb weren’t done.
They connected again on a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 21-13 lead. That score answered a Giants scoring drive that briefly cut the deficit to one.
“Second half we got back to some rhythm throws and I was getting better on my timing, getting the ball out of my hand quickly,” Rodgers said. “No negative-yard plays, the offensive line blocked really well, regardless of the stats.”
A Packers defense ranked 21st in points allowed (24.3) coming into the game limited the production of Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giants’ receiving corps in spite of a battered secondary.
Beckham finished with four catches for 28 yards. Eli Manning was 23 of 44 for 299 yards, including the 41-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King in the third quarter.
But the Giants were plagued by a series of drops by their receivers .
Rodgers began dissecting the secondary after coach Mike McCarthy had his quarterback roll more outside the pocket, and the Packers started working the middle of the field.
Cobb had a big night after missing the last two games of the regular season with an ankle injury. Adams had eight receptions for 125 yards and a score.
Top receiver Jordy Nelson was knocked out of the game with 11 minutes left in the second quarter with a rib injury.
Giants: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie limped off after the first defensive series with a thigh injury. He returned in the second half, but appeared to play mostly on special teams.
Packers: Nelson looked stunned as he rode back to the locker room on the front seat of a cart after getting hurt, hunched forward with his hands on his face. … RB Ty Montgomery limped off the field early in the fourth quarter with an apparent left leg injury, but returned. He finished with 27 yards on 11 carries, and 41 yards on three receptions. … LB Blake Martinez departed in the second half with a knee injury.
Giants: New York will try to build on its first postseason trip since 2011.
Packers: Green Bay will play at Dallas on Jan. 15 in a rematch of a Week 6 game at Lambeau Field. The Cowboys won 30-16. The divisional round will feature four rematches from the regular season for the first time in six years.