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Packers rally, only to falter late

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers had seemingly righted their early-season problems with a three-game winning streak that put them squarely in playoff position.

They had an easy schedule over the final five games, and winning out seemed a possibility.

Tommy DeVito and the New York Giants spoiled all that Monday night by rallying for a 24-22 victory that left the Packers one of six NFC teams with a 6-7 record. The playoffs are up for grabs again.

Next up is a date Sunday with the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another team sitting at 6-7 and fighting for a playoff spot.

Defensive lineman Kenny Clark refused to say this was a trap game for the Packers, who were coming off a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“I’m not going to disrespect them like that,” Clark said of the Giants (5-8), who won their third straight behind DeVito, an undrafted rookie quarterback. “They showed up and they made plays. We’re in the NFL. You don’t play your best ball, I don’t care who you’re going against, you’re going to lose. Credit to the Giants. They made some great plays today and they showed up and we didn’t.”

Packers coach Matt LaFleur was disappointed after seeing his team lose for the first time in 17 December games since he took over in 2019. Green Bay didn’t take advantage of opportunities, turning the ball over three times and having to settle for two short field goals by Anders Carlson after getting into the red zone.

“I think we’ve got a great team,” LaFleur said. “Obviously, we’re a team that’s been in this situation, lost some tough games and been able to bounce back. I know we’ll be able to bounce back next week.”

The Packers were outgained 367 yards to 326 and limited to 5 of 14 on third down. New York also shredded the Green Bay defense for 209 yards rushing, with Saquon Barkley running for two touchdowns and DeVito gaining 71 on scrambles and one planned 26-yard run that set up Barkley’s 1-yard go-ahead TD.

“A lot of times we had flybys right by the quarterback,” LaFleur said. “For whatever reason, we just missed the quarterback.”

Despite the mistakes, the Packers were in position to win after Barkley fumbled at the Green Bay 19 following a 34-yard run. The ball popped out of his hands as he stumbled to keep his balance. Carrington Valentine scooped up the ball amid the confusion and returned it 50 yards to the Giants 36.

Jordan Love hit Malik Heath with a 6-yard TD pass for a 22-21 lead, but the 2-point conversion run by receiver Jayden Reed was stopped.

DeVito then led the Giants on an eight-play, 57-yard drive that included a 32-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson and ended with a game-winning 37-yard field goal by Randy Bullock.

“I’ve got to go back and see how the final drive went, but losing games like this when you’re in it, of course it hurts,” Packers defensive lineman Rashan Gary said. “It only gives us more motivation going into next week.”

Love finished 25 of 39 for 218 yards with one touchdown, one interception and one lost fumble.

“Not good enough,” he said. “Obviously not good enough to get the job done there at the end. Obviously two costly turnovers hurt us a lot. Just not good enough.”

The Packers have four games left to make things right.

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