Green Bay Packers beat Los Angeles Rams; Buffalo Bills overcome Baltimore Ravens

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport

The Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills both kept their Super Bowl hopes alive with play-off wins.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes - one for Davante Adams and one for Allen Lazard - and ran in for another score, while Aaron Jones also bundled over as the Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams 32-18.

In the later game, touchdowns from Stefon Diggs and Taron Johnson, who produced a 101-yard run to score following an interception, helped the Bills beat the Baltimore Ravens 17-3.

For the Packers it is the second successive year they will play in the NFC Championship game and will face either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the New Orleans Saints, who play on Sunday (23:40 GMT).

The Packers have not reached a Super Bowl since they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV 10 years ago and lost 37-20 to the San Francisco 49ers in the championship decider last January.

Meanwhile, the Bills have never won a Super Bowl and will hope to clinch the AFC title for the first time since the 1993 campaign.

Next up for them is the winner of the play-off between the Cleveland Browns and reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs, with those two meeting at 20:05 GMT on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers is expected to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player this season after MVPs in 2011 and 2014
Aaron Rodgers is expected to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player this season after MVPs in 2011 and 2014

Fans return to Lambeau Field

For the first time this season, there was a crowd of up to 9,000 fans at Lambeau Field, including 6,500 season ticket holders, while the rest were a mix of invited guests such as first responders, healthcare workers, members of the military and family of Packers staff.

"It was special and there's nothing like it," said Rodgers. "We have really missed that part of this experience so to run out of the tunnel with fans is unbelievable and it's hard to explain how it feels to have the energy from them.

"It [the margin] could've been more and I'm so proud of our guys. Our defence came up with a couple of big stops and this feels really good.

"I was barely touched all night so we did a good job of shutting them down and that made my game easier."

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field will host the NFC Championship game on 24 January

The home fans nearly had an early touchdown to celebrate as the Packers piled on the pressure in their opening drive, but had to settle for Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal, before the Rams’ Matt Gay made it 3-3 with a 37-yard field goal.

But Rodgers, expected to be named NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the third time in his career, connected with Adams from one yard for his 19th touchdown of the season.

Rodgers then got a rushing touchdown himself as he faked to throw and managed to scramble in the corner to extend the Packers’ advantage. However, in the final minute of the first half, a nine-play Rams drive ended with Van Jefferson diving to catch Jared Goff’s four-yard pass.

There was still time for one last Packers score but passes to Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were incomplete, before Crosby’s 39-yard field goal gave the Packers a 19-10 lead at half-time.

The Rams, who lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl three years ago, fell 25-10 behind shortly after the restart after a 60-yard sprint from Jones took the Packers into a great position and Jones then bundled his way over from close range.

Cam Akers kept the Rams in it with a touchdown and then the two-point conversion attempt at the end of the third quarter.

However, Rodgers, who has now made 50 touchdown passes for the season, found Lazard, who sprinted home for a 58-yard touchdown to seal the victory.

Johnson's incredible 101-yard score as the Bills advance

Saturday's second match was billed as a battle of the quarterbacks between the Bills' Josh Allen and the Ravens' Lamar Jackson, last season's MVP.

However, defences were on top in the first half with the hosts' only points coming via a 28-yard field goal from Tyler Bass, who later missed from 43 yards.

In blustery conditions, Justin Tucker kicked a field goal at the third opportunity, from 34 yards, in the final seconds of the half to tie it at 3-3.

Tucker, for the first time in his career, had previously missed two field goal attempts from within 50 yards - hitting an upright from 41 yards and then again from 46 yards.

The Bills have never won a Super Bowl, having lost in NFL's showpiece four years in a row in the early 1990s, and their 27-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on 9 January was their first post-season win since 1995.

In front of a passionate crowd of 6,772 fans at the Bills Stadium, the hosts grabbed the first touchdown with an 11-play drive at the start of the second half that ended when Allen passed to Diggs for a four-yard score.

The Ravens, Super Bowl winners in the 2000 and 2012 seasons, pushed to level the scores but the decisive moment came when Jackson's attempted pass to Mark Andrews in the end zone was intercepted by Johnson and he ran the full length of the field for a memorable 101-yard touchdown.

A miserable evening for Jackson also saw him leave the action following a heavy hit in the third quarter and he did not return as he was ruled out with concussion.

Taron Johnson
Taron Johnson's 101-yard touchdown was the joint longest in post-season history following George Teague's effort for the Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions in 1993
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