The Cleveland Browns almost pulled off the Christmas miracle, but in the end the Green Bay Packers survived with a 24-22 victory and improved their record to 12-3.
As the Browns lost their lead, the Packers were unnaturally attacked in the second half. Baker Mayfield threw four picks in the game, three of which were in the first half, and it was different.
Nick Soup and D’Ernest Johnson bounced back from a 12-12 deficit, and they were outplayed by a cut-off run from the right side of the line. In two minutes of practice they had a chance to drive a game-winning field goal and Chapin took them close to midfield after several strong wins, but Mayfield threw two consecutive incomplete passes before being knocked out by Douglas. Packers Corner could have escaped by catching wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones.
The Browns had several chances to add points earlier in the game, but a missed extra point, interception outside the red zone and an untimely sock shattered them. Eventually, those points they left on the field became more valuable.
Aaron Rodgers became the Packers’ all-time leader in touchdown passes after Mayfield’s first interception, breaking Alan Lazard’s tie with Brett Favre in the 11-yard score. He then found Davenport Adams for two extra touchdowns, and Mason Crosby’s 32-yard third-quarter goal difference was different.
Read more about the game …
Why the Packers won
Rodgers & Co. converted three first-half sales to 21 points. After each interruption of Mayfield, the Packers hit five plays at 53 yards and a touchdown, 10 plays at 78 yards and a touchdown, and nine plays at 49 yards and a touchdown. This was all the score needed for the Green Pack, however the Packers’ field goal in the opening run of the second half ended in a real game-winning score.
Why Browns lost
There are some games where it is difficult to say why one team won and the other lost. This is not one of them. The Browns failed because their quarterback threw four back-breaking interceptions and made some bad excuses, and had no response to their runner-up Down Day Adams. Sometimes the explanation is too simple.
The Browns started the game with an efficient, five-game, 75-yard touchdown drive. They stopped the bakers in their first possession and forced a ball. But after Mayfield was taken in the first game of the next drive, Rodgers made Downfield for the touchdown.
The Browns had the opportunity to respond to the drive with their own score, and dropped themselves on the field and out of the red zone. That’s when Mayfield threw the second interception of the night.
That was a bad throw. Mayfield did not enter it because the pocket full of mud in front of him, and the throw went over Jarvis Laundry’s head and into the hands of Sandon Sullivan. The Packers will once again be on the field for a touchdown, further extending the lead they have never given up.
Highlight the game
The quarterback-white receiver combination is no better at working sideways than the Rodgers and Adams. They were hooked to throw an outrageous back-shoulder in the second quarter – they made a play much easier than watching any business.
As Joe Buck and Troy Aigman noted on the broadcast, “there’s nothing you can do about that kind of accuracy.” A pair of elite players act at the peak of their powers and do what they do best in a big moment. You can not stop.
Green Bay holds the No. 1 spot in the NFC, and if it wins it will receive both a first-round bag and a home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. Next up for the Bakers is a home game against the Vikings. They end the season with a road trip to Detroit to play the Lions.
Cleveland has dropped out of the playoffs and needs help getting into the playoffs. The Browns are due to visit the Steelers next week, before hosting the Bengals in the 18th week.