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Aaron Rodgers, Packers' offense finally play 'the way you need to play'

LANDOVER, Md. -- It was the same old, same old for the Green Bay Packers.

Until it wasn’t.

Admit it, when they fell behind 11-0 and were going nowhere slowly in Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins, you were ready to pack it in and play the wait-'til-next-year card.

And really, who could blame you after the way the Packers’ offense fluttered time after time late in the season?

“Honestly, I don’t think we deserved anybody’s faith coming into this game by the way we finished the regular season,” Packers right guard T.J. Lang said.

Instead of waiting until the fourth quarter to rally, only to come up short -- a formula the Packers have tried before -- they saved, or at least prolonged, their season with some of the most impressive offense they’ve played this season to roll the Redskins 35-18 at FedEx Field.

It was the kind of performance that offered a glimmer of hope that the playoff run could extend beyond Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game at the second-seeded Arizona Cardinals, a team that obliterated the Packers 38-8 just two weeks ago.

“We knew the type of team we had,” Lang said. “We knew what we had to do to get the job done. We knew there was going to be adversity in this game. It was going to be how we responded to that. Obviously, we did a great job of that [Sunday]. We’re probably going to be everybody’s underdog from here on out. That’s fine with us. That’s a title we’ll be happy to carry. We’ll just keep our heads down and keep fighting. Just keep moving forward and see what happens.”

It wasn’t perfect. There were still breakdowns in pass protection. Fill-in left tackle JC Tretter, the fourth starter in as many weeks at that spot, gave up a sack for a safety in the first quarter. They couldn’t convert a third down until the second quarter, when Aaron Rodgers caught the Redskins with 12 men on the field.

What followed that penalty was their longest play of the game -- a 34-yard seam route by James Jones that finally got Rodgers rolling.

From that point on, Rodgers got to the line of scrimmage quicker, prevented the Redskins from catching their breath and used a mix of runs and passes that showed why coach Mike McCarthy was crazy to give up play calling to begin with.

“We came together today; we played for each other,” said Rodgers, who threw for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. “I think there was a time there, down 11-0, where people could have started having that doubt creep in, but it didn’t happen.”

Another solid defensive performance that included a goal-line stand to hold the Redskins to a field goal after they had a first-and-goal at the 1 in the first quarter bought Rodgers and the offense some time. The Packers rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the second half after rushing nine times for 17 yards in the first half.

Rodgers was pressured (sacked or under duress) on only six of his 37 dropbacks on Sunday, the lowest pressure percentage he has faced all season. That was in contrast to the past two weeks, when he was pressured on 49 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“That’s the way you want to play offense,” McCarthy said. “When you get in the playoffs, you don’t have to talk about the regular season anymore. I don’t know if you guys got the memo about that. It’s the way you need to play, and we’re going to have to play that way moving forward.”

The 11-point deficit was the second-largest playoff comeback in franchise history behind only the 2007 division round win over the Seahawks, who jumped out to a 14-0 lead. The 35 points was their highest total since the Week 3 win over the Chiefs (38-28).

It came after Rodgers started just 1-for-8 passing, his worst completion percentage (12.5) in any quarter of his career with a minimum of five attempts.

“We’re a resilient bunch,” said receiver Davante Adams, who caught his first touchdown pass in more than a month before he bowed out with a knee injury. “To be able to keep making plays and keep pushing through adversity when things aren’t going that great, it says a lot about our offense. We’re a powerhouse, and I tell everybody that and I’ll say it a million times. Once we start clicking and executing, it’s hard to stop us.”