Aaron Rodgers got help from everyone to send Packers to NFC title game

Packers will need complete effort against Falcons (0:48)

ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky explains why the Packers' effort in their thrilling win over the Cowboys needs to be duplicated next week in the NFC Championship game against the Falcons. (0:48)

ARLINGTON, Texas -- All last week, the Green Bay Packers faced the same question: Who would make up for the loss of receiver Jordy Nelson?

The answer turned out to be simple: Everyone, with a little extra from Jared Cook.

From tight ends Richard Rodgers and Cook, who each caught touchdown passes; to running back Ty Montgomery, who ran for two scores; to receivers Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, who all made key plays at one time or another; quarterback Aaron Rodgers had more than enough qualified playmakers.

And in the end, there was kicker Mason Crosby, who made two field goals in the final 93 seconds -- including the game winner at the gun from 51 yards after he had just made a 56-yarder with 1:33 to play. Crosby had never made two 50-plus-yard field goals in a game before Sunday.

It was Cook's 36-yard sideline catch on a throw Rodgers made while scrambling to his left that set up the winning field goal.

"That was a combination of just a good protection and just being patient outside the pocket and then putting the ball where I wanted to," Rodgers said. "And Cookie made a phenomenal catch."

In Sunday’s 34-31 divisional playoff win over the NFC’s top-seeded Dallas Cowboys, the Packers barely missed Nelson, who watched from the sideline in street clothes to protect the rib injury he sustained a week earlier.

And now there’s legitimate hope that the fourth-seeded Packers will have their No. 1 receiver back for next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the second-seeded Atlanta Falcons.

If Nelson returns there may be no stopping Rodgers & Co. Eight straight wins since the Packers were 4-6 should say more than enough about this team’s momentum as it heads to Atlanta with a berth in Super Bowl LI on the line.

"We’re an excellent football team, and we’re just two steps away from achieving greatness," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

The Packers even got a key contribution from defensive back Micah Hyde, who picked off Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in the third quarter to preserve what at the time was a 15-point lead.

"It was great to see so many guys making plays out there," said Rodgers, who threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns. "Richard, obviously, on the offsides adjustment for a touchdown early in the game to get us going, and then Cookie had a big game, Randall’s been very solid for us, Geronimo made some plays. Those guys did some great things. I think Ty Montgomery the last couple of weeks hasn’t been a huge, huge part of the offense but he made some absolutely clutch, highly intelligent plays tonight that probably don’t show up on the TV copy. Just stuff that he did that was above and beyond his responsibility, and I’m really proud of his effort because we’re going to need him moving forward."

Other than a rare interception by Rodgers, which ended a streak of 318 straight passes (and 24 touchdowns) without one, the Packers’ offense hummed along nicely even after the Packers’ suspect defense blew a 15-point third-quarter lead.

Entering Sunday’s game, the Packers had scored only six points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter this season, the fourth fewest in the NFL. Three of those came on Crosby’s game-winning field goal at Chicago in Week 15. They equaled that on Sunday, and now they’re back in the NFC title game for the first time since their meltdown in Seattle in the 2014 conference championship game.

"It’s just resilience," said Cook, who caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. "It speaks volumes about what this team is made of all year, just fighting through certain situations to be able to keep climbing and climbing to get to the top. We’ve got another one down, Now we’re focused on the next one."