The end of the NFL regular season went down to the wire all over on Dec. 29. This was especially true in Chicago, where the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears fought in one of two NFC division title games. Yet the Packers’ 33-28 victory was the highlight of Week 17, and made the most impact on the NFL playoff picture, because of the last-minute comeback of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb -- in more ways than one.
Rodgers made his first start in eight weeks, while Cobb had his first action in 10 weeks. They combined for a touchdown in the second half, yet the Bears still went ahead going into the fourth. Thanks to two Rodgers first half interceptions, the Packers were unable to get anything more than a 13-7 halftime lead, which seemed to set them up for disaster in the second half.
Once the Bears went up by 28-20 to start the fourth, the Packers closed back within one a few minutes later. However, they kicked the extra point rather than go for two and the tie, which was close to coming back to haunt them. It certainly loomed large on Green Bay’s final drive, as it faced three separate fourth-down plays with the season on the line.
The third such play on fourth-and-eight settled everything, as Rodgers escaped a sack and then found a suddenly wide open Cobb. His 48-yard catch and touchdown put the Packers back ahead for good with 38 seconds left, leaving too little time for the Bears to come back.
Now that the Packers have won the division -- albeit with an 8-7-1 record -- and that Rodgers is most certainly back, it could mean a big shakeup in the NFC playoff field. Still, Green Bay has to beat the 12-4 San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 5 for this comeback to mean anything.
The Packers’ charge into the playoffs was the most dramatic of Week 17, save for the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. The accompanying slideshow lists the biggest, most dramatic games of the regular season’s grand finale Sunday, and how they forged the final playoff field.