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Carolina Panthers (9 - 3)

Published:

Pack's late breakdowns hand Panthers 35-31 win

By CHRIS JENKINS – 2 hours ago

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — DeAngelo Williams scored his fourth touchdown of the game with 1:30 left on the clock, giving the Carolina Panthers a stunning come-from-behind 35-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers in wintry conditions at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The Packers appeared headed for a comeback victory of their own after breaking a 28-28 tie on Mason Crosby's 19-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining. But Green Bay immediately gave up a 45-yard kickoff return to Mark Jones and a 54-yard heave from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith to set up first-and-goal on the Green Bay 1.

Williams then went up the gut for his career-high fourth score of the game, helping Carolina (9-3) keep pace in the competitive NFC South.

And the loss could be crushing for the Packers (5-7), who will fall two games out of the NFC North lead with four games left unless division co-leaders Chicago and Minnesota play to a tie Sunday night.

Green Bay's last-minute special teams and defensive breakdowns ruined what could have been a signature win for first-year Packers starter Aaron Rodgers. He led Green Bay back from a 21-10 halftime deficit despite blustery wind, temperatures in the 30s and snow showers, with the Packers poised to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

And with the game tied at 28, Rodgers drove the Packers deep into Panthers territory, then absorbed a jarring late hit out of bounds by Carolina's Julius Peppers for a penalty. That set up first-and-goal on the 7.

Green Bay's Brandon Jackson ran to the 1, but the Panthers stuffed the Packers on two straight running plays. Packers coach Mike McCarthy briefly considered going for it on fourth-and-goal, but instead sent in Crosby to kick the field goal for the lead — only to watch it all fall apart on two big plays.

Jones weaved through the Packers' kick coverage for 45 yards to Carolina's 45. Delhomme then heaved a jump ball to Smith, who brought it down as Packers defensive back Charles Woodson appeared to slip.

After a replay review confirmed the spot of the ball, Williams scored to win it.

Rodgers finished 29-of-45 for 298 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Packers' confounding last-minute mistakes.

Trailing 21-10 at halftime, Rodgers drove the Packers to a field goal to open the half. He then put together an eight-play, 95-yard drive ending with a touchdown pass to Donald Lee and 2-point conversion pass to Greg Jennings to tie the game late in the third quarter.

After a defensive stop by the Packers, Rodgers threw a 21-yard dart to Jennings in the end zone, giving Green Bay a 28-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But the Panthers tied the game on a 1-yard run by Williams after a 36-yard completion from Delhomme to Smith on third-and-11.

Smith finished the game with 105 yards receiving — all in the second half. Delhomme was 12-of-17 for 177 yards.

Entry #578

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