Orchard Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Thigpen had a punt return for a touchdown and Dan Carpenter hit four field goals as the Buffalo Bills pulled off a 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Kyle Orton went just 14-for-27 for 158 yards with an interception, while Fred Jackson added 71 yards on 20 carries for the Bills (8-6), who have won three of their last four games and also finished 4-0 against the NFC North this season.
"The running backs had a really good game today, both on the ground and with passing," said Orton. "They were able to get the tough yards when we needed them."
Buffalo was able to keep pace in the hunt for a wild card spot, and got some help thanks to losses by San Diego, Miami and Houston. Pittsburgh and Baltimore currently hold the wild card spots with nine wins apiece.
"I think the whole defense played at a very high level", said Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone. "The guys have done a good job all year and when you have a defensive effort like this you see how hard they work."
Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the year, as he was a paltry 17-for-42 for 185 yards with two interceptions, along with a fumble on his final possession that turned into a safety.
"It was a frustrating game, they did a good job on defense," said Rodgers. "We had some great opportunities, and just didn't execute on offense."
The Packers (10-4) had a five-game winning streak stopped and now sit tied with Detroit for first place in the NFC North as the Lions defeated the Vikings on Sunday. The Lions currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to a Week 3 win over the Packers, but the two will meet in Green Bay on the final week of the season.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game because this is a tough place to play," said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "They more big plays than we did and this is where we are."
Buffalo started the second half with the ball and the game tied, but took the lead on a 51-yard field goal from Carpenter. Anthony Dixon was able to convert a pair of short third downs on the drive.
After forcing a Green Bay punt, the Bills got the ball back at their own 22 and the first snap saw Jackson go for 13 yards. Bryce Brown caught a short pass and took it 40 yards down to the Green Bay 19. The drive stalled there, though, and Carpenter hit a 35-yard field goal for a 16-10 advantage with 4:18 left in the third.
The Bills then pulled off a big turnover, as Bacarri Rambo picked off Rodgers. However, they were unable to take advantage and had to punt.
Once again, though, it was Rambo coming up with the big play as he again picked off Rodgers to give his team the ball back near midfield and that led to a 48-yard field goal from Carpenter for a nine-point lead with 9:23 to play.
Green Bay was able to answer on its ensuing touch, as Rodgers guided his team on a 10-play, 66-yard drive that Mason Crosby finished with a 34-yard field goal to make it 19-13 with 4:51 to play.
The Packers eventually forced a punt and got the ball back at their own 10 inside the two-minute warning.
On the first play, though, Mario Williams was able to rush around the corner and stripped the ball out of Rodgers' hands, and the ball fell into the end zone where Eddie Lacy picked it up.
By rule, though, the ball was dead as soon as Lacy touched it and the Bills were awarded a safety, and Orton went into the victory formation after the team got the ball back.
The first four possessions ended in punts before Green Bay was able to put points on the board on its third touch.
Rodgers converted a 3rd-and-8 with a 19-yard scramble, which turned out to be the biggest gain of the drive. Crosby booted a 45-yard field goal to give the team a 3-0 lead with 4:27 to play in the first quarter.
Buffalo then had to punt and Green Bay was forced to a three-and-out, but the Bills' special teams came up with a big play.
Thigpen fielded the ball at the 25 and cut it back to the left, racing down the sideline then cutting back right to get into the end zone for a 75-yard score and a 7-3 lead.
Lacy's first three carries on Green Bay's next drive went for 15, 17, and 22 yards. An 11-yard catch from Randall Cobb down to the Buffalo 1 set up Lacy's bull rush into the end zone for a 10-7 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.
The Bills came right back to tie the game as a 10-play, 71-yard drive was finished on a 27-yard field goal from Carpenter with 8:04 to play in the first half.
Crosby lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt on the Packers' next possession, but Williams was able to get a hand on the ball.
Rodgers had just three interceptions coming into the game, and it was his first interception in 203 pass attempts ... Lacy totaled 97 yards on 15 carries ... Buffalo leads the series with Green Bay, 8-4, and has never lost to the Packers in Orchard Park ... Buffalo controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes ... The Bills finished the home portion of their season with a 5-3 mark, and play games in Oakland and New England to finish the regular season ... Green Bay plays at Tampa Bay next, before a home matchup with Detroit to close the regular season.