With a blowout victory over the Seahawks secure, the Packers needed the Carolina Panthers to beat the New York Giants to clinch a playoff berth with a week left in the season.
What was Rodgers thinking?
“Hang on, boys,” Rodgers said. “Hang on.”
Carolina did, routing New York and sending the Packers to the postseason.
For Green Bay (10-5), Sunday’s 48-10 victory completed an impressive rebound from last year’s 6-10 finish and a disappointing 4-4 start to this season.
Several Packers players, including Charles Woodson and Greg Jennings, acknowledged fans during a lap around Lambeau Field after the game.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy got the obligatory sports drink bath from players as the clock was running out, but reminded everyone afterward that his team must improve to have a chance to advance in postseason play.
“Let’s be honest: We still have work ahead of us,” McCarthy said.
Green Bay’s defense certainly was working Sunday, forcing four interceptions by Matt Hasselbeck.
It was Hasselbeck’s second straight four-interception game in what is shaping up as a miserable season for the Seahawks (5-10). Hasselbeck also was picked off four times in a loss to Tampa Bay last week.
“Two weeks in a row personally just giving the ball to them,” Hasselbeck said. “Like I said, I’m searching for answers. I wish I had a good one.”
Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr. said the thought of taking Hasselbeck out of the game crossed his mind, but he stuck with the veteran – for now, anyway.
“We’re trying to fix this thing,” Mora said. “We always put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win and have a successful down. Matt’s our quarterback and we’re going to keep him in there.”
With Seattle already trailing 24-3 at halftime, Hasselbeck threw his third interception on the first possession of the second half. Aaron Rodgers then converted a third-down pass to tight end Jermichael Finley, setting up Brandon Jackson’s 6-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 31-3 lead.
Hasselbeck threw yet another interception on the Seahawks’ next possession, and Rodgers completed another long pass to Finley to drive for a 4-yard touchdown run by Jackson — the third score of the game by the Packers’ backup running back, who caught a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
That was the end of the day for Rodgers, who was lifted in favor of backup Matt Flynn after completing 12 of 23 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown.
“We realize this is just the beginning for us,” Rodgers said.
And Rodgers got in the last word in a weeklong feud with Seattle defender Darryl Tapp.
Earlier in the week, Rodgers said Tapp bit him during last year’s game against Seattle; Tapp denied it, saying it was impossible to bite another player while wearing a helmet and facemask.
Rodgers said Sunday that he regretted bringing the issue up in public and tried to talk to Tapp about it during the game — but didn’t get much of a response.
“I made it a point to talk to him during one of the TV timeouts just to make sure everything’s OK,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers, however, didn’t back off his story.
Tapp continued to insist afterward that video of the incident shows he didn’t bite Rodgers.
Meanwhile, Tapp acknowledged that the Packers’ offense left Seahawks defensive players scratching their heads.
“They’re an explosive team,” Tapp said. “They’re on the playoff track for a reason. We need to get back to Seattle and watch film of what happened and try to find some corrections. I honestly can’t even give you an explanation right now.”
While Rodgers and the passing game generally define the Packers’ offense, Green Bay turned to the running game for most of its points Sunday.
In addition to Jackson’s three scores, Ryan Grant added a pair of touchdown runs — including a 56-yarder in the second quarter – and Ahman Green scored in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better day,” Grant said.
Woodson certainly felt that way — that’s why he was one of the players leading the postgame victory lap.
“It was fan appreciation day,” Woodson said. “You didn’t know that?”
Notes: Struggling kicker Mason Crosby hit a 29-yard field goal just before halftime, then added a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. … Mora said RB Julius Jones aggravated a rib injury and hurt his ankle and CB Josh Wilson had a hip pointer. … McCarthy said S Derrick Martin injured his ankle.