Green Bay Packers (6-6) 21, Houston Texans (6-6) 13
Sunday December 4th 2016 (at Green Bay)
GAME RECAP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(GREEN BAY) - With snow falling at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers were back in their element. The Packers are back at .500 after beating Houston 21-13 on Sunday for their second straight win as they try to keep pace with Detroit in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, Jordy Nelson had 118 yards receiving and a score, and Green Bay pulled away from the Texans with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. ''Well, that was a good bad-weather win,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ''A lot of fun to play in that type of atmosphere in Lambeau Field.'' The Packers (6-6) weathered wintry conditions, making just enough plays on the cold turf to even their record for the first time since they were 4-4 after losing to Indianapolis on Nov. 6. They're two games back of division-leading Detroit after the Lions beat New Orleans on Sunday. Brock Osweiler connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 left to get within eight for Houston. Nick Novak missed the extra point, with footing slippery at Lambeau. The Texans (6-6) had one last shot after the Packers failed to run out the clock. But Osweiler's last-ditch pass-and-lateral play from Houston's 12 with 4 seconds left failed, handing Houston its third straight loss. ''There's not much a margin for error with our team, and we've got to do a better job in the fourth quarter,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. The Texans are tied with idle Tennessee and a half-game ahead of Indianapolis, which plays the New York Jets on Monday night, for the AFC South lead.
JUST JORDY: The Packers broke a 7-all tie when Rodgers found Nelson open in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 12:42 left after Texans cornerback Charles James slipped on the turf. Nelson, who missed last season with a knee injury, finished with eight catches. ''I don't know how much more Jordy needs to prove,'' McCarthy said. ''He's going through what every great player goes through in that first year back from major injury.''
QB COMPARISON: Rodgers was 20 of 30. He looked OK after being limited in practice with a left hamstring injury, taking off for a couple runs, though he didn't seem to have his usual mobility on the slippery turf. Rodgers didn't face much pressure in the first half against a Houston defense minus injured end Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans started getting more pressure on Rodgers in the second half. ''I don't know if you ever come out better than you did coming in, but I feel good about where I'm at,'' Rodgers said. ''I had decent movement and didn't do anything to create a major setback.'' Osweiler has faced heat for the Texans' offensive struggles this season. He was composed in the second half in leading Houston on 10-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin on fourth-and-1 to tie it at 7 with 7:32 left in the third quarter. Osweiler finished 22 of 35 for 202 yards. ''We're tired of being close, we really are as a team. We're all able to see it on the film every single week that we're so close to turning that corner,'' Osweiler said. ''And if you're tired of seeing it, we're tired of living it.''
SNOW DAY: Randall Cobb had fun in the snow. The wide receiver did a snow angel in the end zone after a sliding, 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that gave the Packers a 7-0 lead. In the third quarter, Ryan Griffin did a Lambeau Leap into the waiting arms of a group of Texans fans after his 6-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-1 finished a 10-play, 63-yard drive to tie the game at 7.
STILL GOING: Julius Peppers still packs a pass-rushing punch for the Packers. A sack of Osweiler on second-and-1 at the Houston 41 with 56 seconds left in the second quarter gave the 15-year veteran 142 1/2 for his career, snapping a tie for fifth on the career list with Michael Strahan. Chris Doleman is fourth on that list with 150 1/2.
INJURY REPORT: Texans: WR Braxton Miller left with a shoulder injury after being driven to the cold turf by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the second quarter. Packers: LB Jake Ryan left for a few series in the first half after appearing to aggravate an ankle injury that kept him out the previous two weeks. ... LB Nick Perry, who leads the team with eight sacks, returned with his left hand heavily wrapped after missing most of the first half with the injury.
                           HOUSTON     GREEN BAY
First downs                     17            16
Rushes-yards                27-123        26-109
Net Passing yards              184           200
Passing (Att-Comp-Int)     35-23-0       30-20-0
Sacked-Yards Lost             2-18           1-9
Punts-Average               5-41.0        5-43.0
Fumbles                        1-1           1-1
Penalties-Yards               3-12          4-30
Time of Possession           31:31         28:29
HOUSTON   -  0   0   7   6 - 13
GREEN BAY -  0   7   0  14 - 21
1st - GB - Davante Adams, 12-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
1st - PHIL - Carson Wentz, 1-yard run (Caleb Sturgis kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - GB - Adams, 20-yard pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 14-7
2nd - PHIL - Sturgis, 48-yard field goal GREEN BAY 14-10
3rd - GB - Crosby, 33-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-10
3rd - PHIL - Sturgis, 50-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-13
4th - GB - Aaron Ripowski, 1-yard run (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 24-13
4th - GB - Crosby, 32-yard field goal GREEN BAY 27-13
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING
GREEN BAY - Ty Montgomery 6-40, Christine Michael 9-19, Jeff Janis 1-19, Aaron Rodgers 3-16, Aaron Ripowski 3-14 1 TD, James Starks 4-1
HOUSTON - Jonathan Grimes 5-43, Alfred Blue 5-38, Lamar Miller 14-22, Brock Osweiler 3-20
PASSING
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 30-20-209 2 TD
HOUSTON - Brock Osweiler 35-22-202 2 TD
RECEIVING
GREEN BAY - Jordy Nelson 8-118 1 TD, Randall Cobb 3-19 1 TD, Jared Cook 3-19, Ty Montgomery 2-16, Richard Rodgers 2-16, Davante Adams 1-17, Aaron Ripowski 1-4
HOUSTON - C.J. Fiedorowicz 6-44, Will Fuller V 5-59, Ryan Griffin 4-35 1 TD, DeAndre Hopkins 3-58 1 TD, Alfred Blue 2-3, Jonathan Grimes 1-15, Lamar Miller 1-(-4)
NFC NORTH DIVISION STANDINGS
Detroit   8  4  0 .667 275  241
Minnesota 6  6  0 .500 248  226
GREEN BAY 6  6  0 .500 295  302
Chicago   3  9  0 .250 204  279

AROUND THE NFC NORTH - WEEK 12
THURSDAY DECEMBER 1ST
Dallas 17, MINNESOTA 15 - Dez Bryant sashayed through the Dallas locker room with an unmistakable swagger and had nothing but good things to say about his adversary this time around. It was a stark change from a week ago, when he sparred with Washington cornerback Josh Norman on Thanksgiving. The trash talking Dez and the polite Dez share one thing in common: they both win. Bryant caught four passes for 84 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping the Cowboys win their 11th straight game with a 17-15 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night. In a hard-fought battle with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Bryant's 56-yard catch set up Ezekiel Elliott's 1-yard TD in the first half. Bryant caught an 8-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter after a fumbled punt by Minnesota's Adam Thielen. ''I knew coming into this game it was going to be a tough match and I had to be on my 'A' game,'' Bryant said. ''Because if I wasn't, he can get the best of you. We had a good battle. We shared our thoughts throughout the game. It was good thoughts. It's nice playing games like that.'' Elliott rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries for the Cowboys (11-1). They have the longest single-season winning streak in franchise history. Sam Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon with 25 seconds to play, but the 2-point conversion pass failed. Bradford argued for a penalty after he was hit in the face by a defender, but there was no call for the Vikings (6-6). Minnesota played without coach Mike Zimmer after he had emergency eye surgery Wednesday night. ''I'm sick and tired of the reffing in this league right now,'' Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. ''I'm sick and tired of it. You've got holding calls all over the place that people don't want to call. Bradford gets hit in the face at the end of the game and you don't call it. I'm not laying this loss on reffing, but at some point it's got to get better.'' Bradford completed 32 of 45 passes for 247 yards, Danielle Hunter had two sacks and Kai Forbath kicked three field goals for Minnesota, which has last six of the last seven games after a 5-0 start. Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was elevated to head coach for the game and it remains unclear how long Zimmer will be out. Minnesota's third-ranked defense did their fiery leader proud, holding the explosive Cowboys offense to season lows in points, yards (264) and first downs (13). ''It's not the best game we played, but we showed up when we needed to and made the plays at the end,'' Elliott said.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 4TH
Detroit 28, NEW ORLEANS 13 - Matthew Stafford's powerful arm and fourth-quarter poise delivered Detroit its most comfortable victory yet in a campaign that now looks destined to culminate in a playoff berth. Maybe a first division crown in two decades, too. Stafford passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns, Detroit became the first team in 60 Saints home games to stop Drew Brees from throwing a touchdown pass, and the Lions pulled away from mistake-prone New Orleans, 28-13 on Sunday. ''It feels good to come in here and play a little bit closer to a 60-minute game,'' Stafford said. ''Our defense played unbelievable.'' Stafford was at his best when the Saints were on the brink of seizing momentum early in the fourth quarter
and locking the Lions into yet another high-stress affair. The Superdome crowd was deafening after Stafford's second-down pass had been batted and nearly intercepted by Cameron Jordan in Detroit territory. New Orleans had scored on its previous drive to pull to 19-13, needed a stop on third-and-10 to set up Brees and Co. with a chance to drive for a go-ahead score. Stafford said he sensed the Saints were about to blitz, adding, ''We had a different play call and I checked to one I thought would be good.'' He thought right. Golden Tate broke into the clear behind cornerback B.W. Webb, with safety Vonn Bell too far away to help out. Stafford rifled a long, accurate pass Tate caught, then cut across the field for a 66-yard touchdown. ''Mentally, we stayed locked in and ready, and I think we kept our foot on the pedal,'' Tate said. ''We're rolling right now.'' The Lions (8-4), who've won seven of eight, dominated statistically. But four opportunities inside the New Orleans 20 ended with Matt Prater field goals, allowing the Saints (5-7) to stay close until Tate's big play. This time, in sharp contrast to seven previous victories by between one and seven points, Detroit cruised. Brees finished 31 of 44 for 326 yards, but was intercepted three times, by Glover Quin , Tavon Wilson and Miles Killebrew. Brees called the first half, ''abysmal.'' Saints coach Sean Payton said his team looked, ''sluggish, like we came off a short week or something.'' ''We missed some throws,'' Payton continued, and called his offense ''sloppy'' in general and ''awful'' in third-and-short situations. Tate finished with eight catches for 145 yards . Stafford's other touchdown went to running back Theo Riddick from the 1. John Kuhn scored New Orleans' only touchdown on a 1-yard run.
CHICAGO 26, San Francisco 6 - The Chicago Bears were struggling to complete a pass, let alone find the end zone. Good thing for them, they were playing the 49ers. Jordan Howard ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and the Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss, 26-6 on a snowy Sunday. The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-record losing streak and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert. The Bears (3-9) finished with a season high in points and picked up a rare win in a matchup between two of the NFL's worst teams. ''It does feel good,'' coach John Fox said. ''Hats off to those guys in that locker room. ... Different guys had to step in and did a very nice job.'' Matt Barkley , making his second start with Jay Cutler sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury, went nearly the entire first half without a completion. But he adjusted his arm angle because of the conditions, led a touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter and finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards. By the end of the game, his confidence was soaring. ''Probably at an all-time high in this league,'' said Barkley, drafted by Philadelphia in 2013 when Chip Kelly was coaching the Eagles. ''Just knowing that I can play, that we can make plays as an offense.'' Howard , who came in with two rushing touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the first half. A fifth-round draft pick from Indiana, he added a 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third and a 5-yard run midway through the quarter. Howard's three rushing TDs are tied for the second-most by a Bears rookie in a game. Willie Galimore (1957) and Rashaan Salaam (1995) also did it. The only Bears rookie to rush for more in a game was Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965. Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks to help Chicago stop a three-game slide. 
Green Bay Packers strong safety Morgan Burnett (42) is pushed out of bounds by Houston Texans tackle Duane Brown (76) after Burnett recovered a Houston fumble in the first quarter (Credit: Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.)
Green Bay Packers' Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, left, and Morgan Burnett, right, celebrates Dean Lowry's (94) second quarter sack (Credit: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.)
Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter (Credit: Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.)