GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Giants did their part Sunday. Unfortunately for Big Blue, the Bears didn't do theirs.
The Giants' 17-14 victory at Washington was rendered meaningless when minutes earlier, the Packers beat the Bears, 10-3, in a defensive slugfest at Lambeau Field.
Last week, Green Bay was nearly unstoppable offensively in a 45-17 home win over the Giants that gave the Packers the head-to-head tiebreaker. But costly penalties and drops prevented the Packers from moving the ball for most of the game against NFC North champion Chicago (11-5).
The top-seeded Falcons won before the Bears-Packers kickoff, so the Bears knew they couldn't improve on their No. 2 seed. But they still played their starters the entire way, just as coach Lovie Smith had promised.
Aaron Rodgers' 1-yard pass to Donald Lee on a play-action fake put Green Bay ahead 10-3 with 12:42 to play. The Packers finally secured a playoff berth for the second consecutive season when safety Nick Collins intercepted Jay Cutler at the Packers' 11 with less than 20 seconds remaining.
"We kind of knew after we lost to New England [Dec. 19] that if we just win our last two, then we're in," said Rodgers, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception a week after throwing for 404 yards and four TDs vs. the Giants.
"We played a good Giants team and played excellent on offense and defense. Tonight, we struggled, but it's nice to know that we could keep the momentum going."
The Giants probably would be making plans for another rematch with the Eagles had it not been for Green Bay's swarming defense, which finished the regular season ranked second in points allowed per game (15).
The Packers sacked Cutler six times, including the first two of linebacker Eric Walden's career. Walden, starting for the injured Frank Zombo, signed with Green Bay Oct. 27 after being released by Miami. Walden also tied A.J. Hawk for the team high with 11 tackles.
"You could tell that this game really meant something. We knew it was a do-or-die situation for the team, and I think that's the way everybody played," said Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who had one sack and six tackles and batted down three passes.
"A lot of guys, probably names you haven't heard all season, came up big for us today, especially Walden. He had a huge day."
Safety Charlie Peprah made the first of Green Bay's two key interceptions when he jumped in front of a Cutler pass intended for Johnny Knox in the end zone early in the third quarter. Had Chicago scored a touchdown on that drive, it would have taken a 10-0 lead.
"There were times when we had control. You have to score points, though," Smith said. "You have to get the ball in the end zone."