GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams created a picturesque atmosphere as they connected for three touchdown passes on a snow-covered Lambeau Field.
The Green Bay Packers teammates would love the opportunity to produce plenty of similar scenes next month by staying home throughout the NFC playoffs.
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes as the Packers trounced the Tennessee Titans 40-14 for their fifth consecutive victory Sunday night.
“It’s tough to play in the cold,” said Rodgers, who went 21 of 25 for 231 yards with an interception. “It’s tough to play at Lambeau. I think we proved that tonight.”
Playing in the cold at Green Bay is tough for road teams, anyway. The Packers showed they can thrive on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
The Packers (12-3) already have clinched the NFC North title and can earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs if they win at Chicago (8-7) or Seattle (11-4) loses at San Francisco (6-9) next week.
This game showcased why the Packers want to make sure the playoffs go through Lambeau after losing on the road in three of the last six NFC championship games. With snow falling throughout the first half and continuing to cover much of the field the rest of the game, Green Bay moved the ball at will all night.
“People definitely don’t want to play in the cold,” Adams said. “It’s tough, man. It’s tough. It makes you a little bit less physical. It takes your speed away. If you don’t get to practice in this and get used to the temperature, the snow and all of that stuff, as you’ve seen, it can obviously take a toll. I think that team (Tennessee) is a really, really solid team that played with a lot less speed than they typically do.”
Green Bay ran wild behind 124 yards and two touchdowns from A.J. Dillon and 94 yards from Aaron Jones. Dillon, a second-round pick from Boston College, had run for just 115 yards all season during a rookie year in which he spent over a month on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Tennessee (10-5) squandered an opportunity to clinch its first AFC South championship since 2008. The Titans still can clinch a division title by winning at Houston (4-11) next week.
Adams’ three touchdown catches gave him 17 this season, one off the Packers’ single-season record that Sterling Sharpe set in 1994. Adams, who caught 11 passes for 142 yards Sunday, leads the NFL in touchdown receptions despite missing two games with a hamstring injury.
The Packers’ defence also played well while picking off two passes from Ryan Tannehill, who went 11 of 24 for 121 yards. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry rushed for 98 yards on 23 carries, ending his streak of nine consecutive road games in which he’d run for at least 100 yards.
Green Bay pulled ahead 19-0 when Rodgers threw touchdown passes on each of their first three possessions. Mason Crosby missed an extra-point attempt after the first touchdown and the Packers failed on a two-point conversion attempt after the second one.
Adams capped Green Bay’s first drive by catching a pass behind the line of scrimmage, slipping out of Adoree Jackson’s grasp and diving into the right corner of the end zone.
Green Bay’s second series resulted in Equanimeous St. Brown’s first career touchdown on a 21-yard pass.
After Darnell Savage picked off Tannehill’s pass to give the Packers the ball in Green Bay territory, Adams beat Jackson again on a 7-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
“I don’t think you can do that against anybody, with the mistakes that we made and the start that we had,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “(It’s) just not going to be good enough and just too inconsistent.”
Tennessee got back in the game by scoring two touchdowns in a 3 1/2-minute span midway through the game
Tannehill’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith with 43 seconds left in the second quarter made it 19-7. On the opening series of the second half, Tannehill faked a handoff and raced 45 yards untouched to cut Tennessee’s lead to 19-14.
The Packers then capitalized on good fortune.
Aaron Jones bounced off someone around the line of scrimmage and then raced down the left sideline for a 59-yard gain that set up Rodgers’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Adams. The Packers snapped the ball just after a replay showed Jones stepped out of bounds during that run and gained well over 30 yards afterward.
“By the time the ball was snapped, that was the first view that we got as it was coming down,” Vrabel said. “That was unfortunate. I wish we’d been able to tackle him and set the edge when we had him in the backfield.”
The Packers played without running back Jamaal Williams due to an injured quadriceps. Offensive tackle Rick Wagner suffered a knee injury.
The Titans are at Houston.
The Packers are at Chicago.
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The Canadian Press
Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye has been elected to the Major League Soccer Players Association executive board. The 26-year-old Los Angeles FC midfielder, along with Jalil Anibaba (Nashville SC) and Victor Ulloa (Inter Miami CF), was elected to a three-year term. The executive board serves as the decision- and policy-making body of the Players Association with its members serving as the MLSPA’s chief officers. “The leadership and hard work of our executive board members, both past and present, has made the MLSPA into what it is today,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said in a statement. “I want to congratulate our newest board members, and those who are returning, and thank them for their commitment to serving their fellow players and continuing to grow and improve the MLSPA.” Foose thanked departing board members Jeff Larentowicz and Luis Robles. Other current members of the executive board are Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution), Ethan Finlay (Minnesota United), Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids), Eric Miller (Nashville) and Patrick Mullins (Toronto FC). The MLS and MLSPA are currently at loggerheads over the league’s decision to trigger a “force majeure” clause in the collective bargaining agreement to reopen negotiations on the CBA signed in January 2019. The league has said it lost nearly US$1 billion last season due to the global pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15. 2021 The Canadian Press
Laine 'pissed' to miss Gordie Howe hat trick – TSN
Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine had a productive opening game of the season, scoring the overtime winner as part of a three-point night in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.
Laine, however, was not happy to wind up with only a minor penalty for roughing after dropping the gloves with Matthew Tkachuk as part of a skirmish late in the second period.
“I was pissed off because that would have been a Gordie Howe hat trick,” Laine said after the win. “That one time when I drop my gloves, I get a two-minute penalty. So that’s kind of embarrassing.”
Laine went after Noah Hanifin after the Flames defenceman cross-checked Jets forward Kyle Connor behind the Calgary net, with Tkachuk jumping in soon after.
Hanifin received a minor penalty for cross-checking on the play, while Laine and Tkachuk both picked up roughing minors. Laine has never been assessed a fighting major.
“It gets the team fired up,” Jets forward Nik Ehlers said of Laine’s actions. “I’ve maybe been a little bit in his head in the last week, saying he hasn’t fought yet and when is it going to happen? I think he took that a little personal. He stood up for his teammate. It fires the guys up. Patty’s a big boy, and he went in there today and showed that. It’s exciting, it gets the boys going, it always does. And he got himself buzzing, too. It’s exciting for us.”
The Jets won’t face the Flames again until Feb. 1, when they will play the first of four consecutive games against Calgary – three of which will be on home ice.
Laine winner caps sparkling performance as Jets extinguish Flames in overtime – CBC.ca
Patrik Laine let his play on the ice speak volumes Thursday night with a three-point performance that should squash questions about his committment to the Winnipeg Jets.
“Hopefully I can just build off that game,” Laine said after the victory. “There’s a lot of things I need to look at. The three points isn’t going to tell the whole truth of the game. But it’s a good start.”
His big night comes after Laine’s agent made comments during the off-season suggesting that both the powerful forward and the Jets could benefit from his being traded. Laine ducked questions on the subject as training camp opened.
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His commitment to the team seemed clear Thursday as Laine not only lit up the scoreboard, but stood up for his teammate.
With less than a minute to go in the second period, Calgary’s Noah Hanifin cross-checked Laine’s linemate Kyle Connor into the boards.
Laine responded by going after Hanifin and a scuffle ensued, with Laine and Flames left-winger Matthew Tkachuk exchanging blows.
“That’s just the type of guy he is. He’ll go to battle for his teammates,” Connor said. “He’s a pretty selfless guy and I think you can see that. I have his back out there and vice versa. He’s just an all-around great teammate, I’d say.”
Hanifin was called for cross-checking, and Laine and Tkachuk were each sent to the box for roughing.
It was somewhat of a disappointing result for Laine, who rarely drops the gloves and was hoping he’d register a Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight.
“The one time I drop my gloves, I get a two-minute penalty. So that’s kind of embarrassing,” he said.
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The tussle helped ignite a Winnipeg (1-0-0) side that was tepid at times on Thursday.
Calgary (0-0-1) dominated play through much of the first period, starting just 4:28 in when Tkachuk scored on the second shot of the game with a deflection in front of the Jets’ net.
Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm added goals before the end of the first frame, and the Flames held a 3-1 lead heading into the break.
During the intermission, Jets coach Paul Maurice went into the locker room and told his group to relax. His words changed the way the group played heading into the second period, said Paul Stastny.
“Sometimes when you’re kind of thinking too much, your feet are in quicksand, you’re looking around too much. Everyone was kind of hoping for things to happen,” he said. “The first game of the season it always kind of happens like that. I think it’s just nerves, in a sense.”
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Thirty-four seconds into the second period, Nikolaj Ehlers took a shot from the slot and, while Jacob Markstrom made the stop, he couldn’t control the rebound. The puck squirted out to Mark Schiefele who popped it in from the side of the net to make it 3-2.
Connor’s power-play goal evened the score at 3-3, and Laine buried the winner 1:18 into overtime, streaking from deep in his own end all the way past the Calgary blue line. He fanned on his first shot but quickly recovered and beat Markstrom on his second attempt.
Laine has worked harder in training camp than any other time during his career in Winnipeg, and is bigger, stronger and more mature than ever before, Maurice said.
“He’s a very driven young man. He wants to be great. And sometimes you have to learn how that unfolds,” the coach said. “What he got tonight he earned. He didn’t get lucky, he didn’t have a bunch of bounces go for him. He just worked and worked.”
Markstrom was making his debut for Calgary after signing a six-year, $36-million US deal in free agency and stopped 30-of-34 shots Thursday.
Connor Hellebuyck, the NHL’s reigning Vezina winner, had 23 saves for Winnipeg.
The game was a rematch of last year’s playoff series where the Flames dispatched with the Jets in four games in the qualifying round.
It was also the first of nine meetings between the two clubs in the pandemic-condensed 56-game season.
The Flames will host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, and the Jets are set to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
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