GREEN BAY -- The sun set for the Green Bay Packers in Arizona on Saturday, January 16th. Larry Fitzgerald set up and scored the winning touchdown on the third play of overtime Saturday night, taking a 5-yard pass from Carson Palmer that lifted Arizona past Green Bay 26-20 after Aaron Rodgers sent the game to an extra period with a desperation 41-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Janis on the final play of regulation.
On Monday, January 18th, back in Green Bay, it was time for the Packers players to clean out their lockers, and meet with reporters one last time.
The Packers players arrived at Lambeau Field around 8:00 a.m. for the final time this season.
After Saturday night's emotional loss in the playoffs on the road, some players reflected on another season now in the books.
"Definitely bittersweet. You love playing. You love coming to work. Of course our ultimate goal -- we all want to go to the Super Bowl. I heard it's an amazing experience, and I want to win it. That's something that I'd really like to do, and I feel that we will one of these days, one of these years. But in the off season, you take care of your body, enjoy your family, time away from everything in this, and then you train, come back at it and get ready to go," Packers LT David Bakhtiari said.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy spoke with reporters in his season-ending news conference at 5:00 p.m. at Lambeau Field.
McCarthy spoke about Packers WR Randall Cobb -- who was hospitalized after leaving the game Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals with a chest injury.
The Packers' leading receiver posted on Twitter on Sunday that he was discharged from a Phoenix-area hospital after being held overnight for observation.
Cobb was hurt in the first quarter after stretching out for a diving 51-yard catch to the Arizona three-yard line and landing hard to the turf.
"Thank you for all the prayers and support," Cobb wrote. "Such a tough way to go out."
Coach McCarthy said Monday evening he hadn't spoken with Cobb, but said it was his understanding that Cobb was en route to Green Bay. McCarthy said he doesn't believe there's any long-term concern when it comes to Cobb.
McCarthy also spoke about the end of the game vs. the Cardinals, answering a question about whether the Packers should've gone for two -- saying "You consider all your options. A two-point conversion wasn't the right option. The way our D was playing, I had great confidence."
Ahead of this Green Bay Packers season, Coach McCarthy announced he was handing over play-calling duties to Tom Clements. During the season, Coach McCarthy resumed play-calling duties, and on Monday, McCarthy said he would be the one calling plays from here on out.
McCarthy spoke on Jeff Janis -- who caught Hail Mary 2.0 -- the TD catch that forced the game vs. the Cardinals into overtime.
McCarthy said Janis had a "tremendous game" in Arizona.
As for QB Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy said: “This is the most adversity he’s had to play through since ’08. I thought he did a heck of a job dealing with it."
McCarthy also commented on Jordy Nelson. The Packers wide receiver suffered a significant right knee injury in the Packers pre-season matchup vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was out for the season.
McCarthy said he fells that Nelson will come back next season better than ever. The coach said Nelson is "so far ahead with rehab," and that he "looks great."
CLICK HERE for more on Coach McCarthy's year-end news conference via Packers.com.
The Packers signed eight free agents on Monday:
All of these players finished the season on the Packers’ practice squad.
There are four teams still battling it out in the NFL.
The championship games are set, with the top two seeds in each conference coming through with victories over the weekend.
In the AFC, it will be the New England Patriots at the Denver Broncos; in the NFC it's the Arizona Cardinals at the Carolina Panthers.
The winners meet in the Super Bowl in Santa Clara, California on February 7th.
And what a group of star players, featuring yet another Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady showdown.
Manning and the Broncos took a late lead and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-16 on Sunday, January 17th in Denver. A day earlier, Brady led the defending Super Bowl champions to 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
"We'll enjoy this one tonight. I think you knew that answer was coming," Manning said. "To kind of quote Bill Belichick, we'll be on to New England. But I'll be talking about them on Wednesday."
In the NFC, it'll be Cam Newton leading his team against the Cardinals and standout receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The Panthers beat the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 on Sunday, a day after the Cardinals beat the Packers.