NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers advance with wild-card routs

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers advance with wild-card routs

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers, master of the Hail Mary pass, struck again in another big moment.

Rodgers overcame a sluggish start and finished with four touchdown passes, including a momentum-swinging 42-yard heave to Randall Cobb at the end of the second quarter, to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 38-13 win Sunday over the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.

The Packers move on to face the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round next week.

Rodgers was 25 of 40 for 362 yards, continuing a remarkable run of quarterback play that helped the Packers win their final six games of the regular season to take the NFC North. Cobb finished with five receptions for 116 yards and three scores.

For much of the first half, the Giants' defense flustered the two-time NFL MVP. They got pressure on Rodgers and the secondary blanketed the Packers' talented receiving corps , and a few boos even rained down from the stands after New York built a 6-0 lead on two field goals by Robbie Gould.

As it turned out, Rodgers was just getting started.

Green Bay scored two touchdowns in the final 2:20 of the second quarter, punctuated by another remarkable desperation pass by Rodgers.

With the ball on the Giants 42, Rodgers took the snap with 6 seconds left. He rolled to his right before heaving a throw from about the Packers 47. Cobb somehow got behind three defensive backs near the back of the end zone to haul in the pass, getting both feet down before falling out of bounds.

The Giants looked stunned, just like how the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals looked last season after Rodgers pulled off similar feats.

Rodgers and Cobb weren't done.

They connected again on a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 21-13 lead. That score answered a Giants scoring drive that briefly cut the deficit to one.

A Packers defense ranked 21st in points allowed (24.3) coming into the game limited the production of Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giants' receiving corps in spite of a battered secondary.

Beckham finished with four catches for 28 yards. Eli Manning was 23 of 44 for 299 yards, including the 41-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King in the third quarter.

But the Giants were plagued by a series of drops by their receivers .

Rodgers began dissecting the secondary after coach Mike McCarthy had his quarterback roll more outside the pocket, and the Packers started working the middle of the field.

Cobb had a big night after missing the last two games of the regular season with an ankle injury. Davante Adams had eight receptions for 125 yards and a score.

Top receiver Jordy Nelson was knocked out of the game with 11 minutes left in the second quarter with a rib injury (see full recap).

Bell, Brown lead Steelers' rout of Dolphins
PITTSBURGH -- Injuries forced Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell to wait three seasons for the chance to run onto the field together in the playoffs. The wait for the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Big Three" to do it again won't be nearly as long.

Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores, Brown caught five passes for 124 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from Roethlisberger as the Steelers overwhelmed the beaten-up and mistake-prone Miami Dolphins, 30-12, on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (12-5) ran off its eighth straight victory by avenging a whipping by the Dolphins (10-7) in mid-October to set up a visit to AFC West champion Kansas City (12-4) next Sunday. The Steelers rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2.

The Dolphins tried to hype themselves up by running around in shirt sleeves in the single-digit wind chill during warmups. Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier did them one better, racing around shirtless -- as if to send a message that his team is plenty comfortable playing this time of year.

It sure looked like it.

The Steelers scored on their first three possessions, and Miami's playoff victory drought was wall on its way to 17 years and counting.

Brown turned a pair of short passes into long scores. The first, a 50-yard sprint down the left sideline, came after Brown patiently waited for tight end Jesse James to provide the one block he needed. The second, a crossing pattern Brown turned into a 62-yard touchdown, ended with the All-Pro receiver pointing at a Miami defender as he crossed the goal line to put the Steelers up 14-0 before the game was 10 minutes old.

Matt Moore, making the first playoff start of his decade-long career with Ryan Tannehill still sidelined by a sprained knee, played on despite taking a helmet-to-chin shot from Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree in the second quarter. Moore returned just minutes after sitting dazed on the turf and completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But he fumbled twice with the ball in Steelers territory and the game still in doubt.

The first fumble, caused by an unblocked James Harrison, ended a Miami drive at the Pittsburgh 13. The second, when Moore collided with running back Jay Ajayi, set up a Chris Boswell field goal that pushed Pittsburgh's lead to 23-6 midway through the third quarter.

Shazier stepped in front of Moore's pass on Miami's next possession, and when Bell darted it from eight yards, the Steelers were up 30-6 (see full recap).

Forever linked to Reggie White, Derek Barnett wants to create own identity

Forever linked to Reggie White, Derek Barnett wants to create own identity

Derek Barnett was 4 years old when Reggie White played in his final NFL game.

Nonetheless, the two are inexorably linked. And probably always will be.

Barnett broke White's University of Tennessee career sack record this past winter, and on Thursday — 25 years after White played his final game in an Eagles uniform — Barnett joined the team White spent his first eight NFL seasons with.

Barnett said Friday he's actually been in contact with White's widow, Sara, who contacted him after he broke Reggie's Volunteers sack record in the Music City Bowl against Nebraska in Nashville this past Dec. 30.

"She gave me a phone call about a week after the bowl game after I broke the record," Barnett said. "She just congratulated me on everything I've accomplished.

"Even though I broke the record, I told her, 'Reggie's still Reggie. I don't think I'm better than Reggie.' I told her thank you a lot and I really appreciated it.

"It meant a lot. She went out of her way. She didn't have to call me, but I'm glad she did."

Barnett recorded 33 sacks in his college career. White had 32.

Now, let's be realistic. Barnett is not White. Nobody is. White recorded 124 sacks in 121 games as an Eagle — more than one per game.

Add in his six years with the Packers and final season with the Panthers, and White had 198 sacks in his career. That stood as the NFL record until Bruce Smith finished with 200. White still ranks second all-time.

White, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, his first year of eligibility, died the day after Christmas in 2004.

It was Sara White who spoke for White at his Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio, and Barnett said he can't wait to meet her in person.

"She lives in Nashville, so when I get the chance, I will go over there and meet with them," Barnett said. "But Reggie White, in Knoxville, is a legend. He's all over the place in the state of Tennessee."

Since White left Philly for Green Bay, the Eagles have drafted exactly one defensive end who's ever had double-digit sacks in a season. That was Trent Cole, a fifth-round pick in 2005.

One guy in a quarter of a century.

Barnett said he actually watched old film of White while he was in college to try and learn from his arsenal of pass-rush moves.

"I watched tape of him at Tennessee because I was trying to put the hump move in my game," Barnett said. "As a pass rusher, I feel like everyone has their own moves and I think that move is for him, probably not for me."

None of this is really fair to Barnett, who found himself being compared to maybe the greatest defensive player in NFL history before his NFL career was 24 hours old.

In an open letter to NFL teams published in the Players' Tribune this week, Barnett said he's proud he broke White's record but ultimately wants to be known for more.

"You might know me as the kid who broke Reggie White's sack record at Tennessee, but that's not the only thing I'm going to be remembered for by the time I leave this game," he wrote.

"Achieving that sack record definitely meant a lot to me, but I would have traded it away in a heartbeat to have won a championship while I was in college."

NFL draft Day 2 updates: Another corner off the board

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NFL draft Day 2 updates: Another corner off the board

The Latest on the NFL draft (all times Eastern):

Latest picks from the NFL draft:

No. 33 Green Bay (from Cleveland)

Kevin King, CB, 6-3, 203, Washington

One of the tallest corners in the draft. Big question is top-end speed.

No. 34 Jacksonville (from Seattle through San Francisco)

Cam Robinson, OT, 6-6, 322, Alabama

The All-American has all the measurable. Needs more consistent footwork.

No. 35 Seattle (from Jacksonville)

Malik McDowell, DT, 6-6, 295, Michigan State

Inconsistent play and some injuries as a junior kept him out of the first round. Freaky athlete.

No. 36 Arizona (from Chicago)

Budda Baker, S, 5-10, 195, Washington

Baker goes to the team that has the player he is most often compared: Tyrann Mathieu.

No. 37 Buffalo (Los Angeles Rams)

Zay Jones, WR, 6-2, 201, East Carolina

Jones led the nation in catches with a record 158 last season. Yes, 158.

7:15 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers opened the second round of the NFL draft by selecting Washington cornerback Kevin King.

Green Bay traded out of the first round, so King, a 6-3 former safety, was its first addition in this draft. The Packers owned the 29th pick, which they sent to Cleveland on Thursday night.

Just before Friday's selection, Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski thanked Philadelphia and the fans. Folks in the theater even booed Goodell's tribute, but not when "Jaws" repeated it.

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6:45 p.m.

Cardinals first-round draft pick Haason Reddick arrived in Arizona Friday and gushed about his new NFL home.

He praised the welcoming fans and called the area "heaven on earth."

Apparently nobody warned him about practicing in 120-degree summer temperatures.

The versatile linebacker also said he's looking forward to learning behind veteran Karlos Dansby, who was signed to a one-year contract.

Reddick, the 13th pick overall, said he's already talked to Dansby and that he's "blessed and lucky" to be in a position to learn from him.

Round two of the draft begins at 7 p.m. with a pick by Green Bay.

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