OAKLAND, Calif. – After losing four of five during a rare midseason slump, the Green Bay Packers are back where they usually are this time of year: headed to the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass and Damarious Randall returned an interception for another score to help the Packers beat the Oakland Raiders 30-20 on Sunday, after Green Bay clinched a franchise-record seventh consecutive postseason spot.
"It's big, especially when a couple weeks ago everybody was counting us out," said safety Micah Hyde, who had an early interception that helped Green Bay get off to a fast start.
"It's good to clinch, but at the same time, this is something that's expected around here."
The Packers (10-4) clinched the postseason in the first quarter when the New York Giants lost to Carolina. But Green Bay still has its eyes set on a division title and remained one game ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North.
But the Packers still have plenty of work to do before January. They failed to get into the end zone on their final four red zone trips and blew a 14-point lead before recovering. But they aren't concerned with those problems right now.
"We're right where I want to be. Right where we need to be," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The style points, you can flush that. I'm sick and tired about talking about the negativity — we've won 10 games."
The Packers built a 14-0 lead with defense and then had to win it behind Rodgers and the offense. Green Bay fell behind 20-17 midway through the third quarter on Derek Carr's second touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
The Oakland lead was short-lived as Jeff Janis returned the ensuing kickoff to near midfield. Three plays later, former Raiders receiver James Jones beat busted coverage for a 30-yard touchdown catch.
"Those kind of mistakes, they kill you as a team," Oakland safety Charles Woodson said. "We gave ourselves a chance. Just didn't come up at the end when we needed to."
Carr threw two early interceptions to put Oakland (6-8) in a hole but then had the two TD passes to Cooper. It wasn't enough as the Raiders were eliminated from postseason contention for the 13th year in a row.
"It hurts. It hurt my heart, to be honest, because I know how much work I put into this, how much work our team puts into this, our coaches," Carr said.
"I know the sacrifice during the week and even during the offseason. Everyone's ultimate goal is to go to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. That's always my goal, that will never change."