GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No one should mistake it for The Drive. Or the Drive II. Or even call it the Drive III. But a season-long 98-yard touchdown march to break a tie game in the fourth quarter on a snowy day at Lambeau Field will go down as noteworthy for this reason: It kept the Green Bay Packers' season alive for at least another week.
It was the difference between a 6-6 record -- and staying two games behind the first-place Detroit Lions in the NFC North -- and an all-but-dead 5-7 and three games back with four to play.
It turned a 7-7 game that had rankled the nerves of many of the 77,867 in the stands into a 21-13 victory on a vintage Green Bay December afternoon.
Whether it was the steady snow that turned Lambeau Field into a skating rink or just more feeble offense by the Packers, it wasn’t until midway through the second half that Aaron Rodgers and the offense did anything to resemble what they showed in last Monday night’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We needed it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the 98-yard drive that covered the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
It started after a risky decision by McCarthy to try a fourth-and-2 run by fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who got stopped about a foot short. Although the Texans couldn’t parlay that field position into any points, they pinned the Packers back at their own 2-yard line with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
To that point, the Packers had mustered just 112 yards of total offense.
And then McCarthy and Rodgers found something. Ty Montgomery ran for 13 yards to convert a third-and-1 followed by a sliding 10-yard catch by Jared Cook on third-and-8. Davante Adams, shut out for the first three quarters, caught a 17-yarder on the right sideline before Rodgers found a wide-open Jordy Nelson for a 32-yard touchdown after Texans cornerback Charles James wiped out in the snow.
Twelve plays, 98 yards for the Packers’ longest drive of the season and a 14-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
As if to show it wasn’t a fluke, the Packers came back with an eight-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that featured more of Nelson -- a 21-yarder and a 28-yarder that put him over 100 yards for the day -- on the next possession to put the game away.
"We just needed to put something together," Rodgers said. "It starts with one first down when you’re backed up. We had some good field position early in the game and kind of squandered it. Our last few drives were back on the 2, the 10 or 11. So for us to put together two drives of over 180 yards of offense was pretty special. We had obviously a couple good drives last week to close the game out. Did the same this week."
John Elway and the Denver Broncos don’t have to worry about the Packers stealing their fame for The Drive (the 1986 AFC title game) or The Drive II (the 1991 AFC divisional playoff game), and if the Packers don’t turn this into a playoff berth, it will be nothing more than a footnote to the 2016 season.
But if the Packers’ second straight win indeed helps them “run the table” -- as Rodgers suggested was possible less than two weeks ago -- then it will have its place in Green Bay’s football lore.
"Finishing the game; we found a way to get a win and that's what it's all about," said receiver Randall Cobb, who did a snow angel in the end zone after his 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. "We didn't play as well as we would have liked to throughout the game, but when it mattered, we were able to get the job done."