Game Recap: Packers Beat Browns 24-22

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week sixteen win against the Browns.  

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Green Bay Packers (12-3, 3-1 NFC North) topped the Cleveland Browns (7-8, 2-2 AFC North) 24-22 at Lambeau Field Saturday during a rollercoaster Christmas Day matchup.

The Packers won the toss and deferred, so the Browns were the first to get a shot on Saturday. They got things rolling early after quarterback Baker Mayfield connected with running back Nick Chubb on a short pass and Chubb barreled through Green Bay’s defense for a 41-yard gain and a first down. Cleveland also picked up an additional 13 yards on the play after safety Darnell Savage Jr. was flagged for a low block, and the Browns were in the red zone in a blink.

From there, Mayfield connected with wide receiver Jarvis Landry for a 12-yard gain on 2nd and 9 to keep the chains moving. After that, Chubb finished the job and rushed 1 yard for a touchdown. However, the Browns missed the extra point attempt, so they only took a 6-0 lead.

After failing to convert on their first three plays of their opening possession, the Packers took a major risk and went for it on 4th and 1 at their own 34. The gutsy decision proved to be worth it after running back Aaron Jones rushed for 4 yards to keep the drive alive. However, the momentum was short lived after Green Bay failed to convert on their next three plays and was forced to punt it away.

The Browns next drive didn’t last long, though. On the first play of their next possession, Mayfield heaved the ball deep downfield, and Savage was there to make the interception at Green Bay’s 45-yard line.

The Packers made sure to take advantage of this Christmas gift from the Browns and wasted no time doing so. On 2nd and 6, Rodgers connected with WR1 Davante Adams for 33 yards to quickly propel Green Bay into the red zone. From there, it was easy money for the Packers, and Rodgers found wide receiver Allen Lazard for 11 yards and a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead over the Browns. The play was one for the history books for the Packers as Rodgers threw his 443rd career touchdown pass, breaking Brett Favre’s franchise record.

The Browns weren’t going down without a fight in this one, but Mayfield wasn’t doing them any favors. After three first down pickups from wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, Chubb and wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, Mayfield was picked off for the second time Saturday, this time by cornerback Chandon Sullivan in the red zone. Sullivan returned it to Green Bay’s 22-yard line, and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took over.

On the first play of the drive, Rodgers immediately launched one deep to Lazard, who came through with an impressive 34-yard catch to put Green Bay at the edge of the red zone. Then, Jones rushed for 2 yards on 3rd and 1 to keep the chains moving. From there, Lazard continued to stay involved and picked up 13 yards on 1st and 10 to position the Packers in the red zone. Then, on 2nd and 2, running back AJ Dillon rushed for 3 yards to bring Green Bay within the 10-yard line with a fresh set of downs. From there, Rodgers connected with Adams for a 9-yard touchdown on 3rd and goal to take a 14-6 lead.

The touchdown marked another historic moment for Green Bay, as it was the 66th time Rodgers and Adams have connected for a touchdown. That makes them the most productive touchdown duo in Packers’ history, surpassing Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Despite Green Bay’s early dominance, Cleveland continued to battle and even made things interesting on their next drive. On 1st and 10, running back D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 17 yards and a first down. On the next play, Mayfield connected with tight end Austin Hooper for an 11-yard gain and then hit Landry for a 24-yard gain to continue moving the chains. From there, Mayfield connected with wide receiver Rashard Higgins for 14 yards and the first down. Then, on 1st and goal, Mayfield connected with tight end Harrison Bryant for a 1-yard touchdown. Cleveland attempted a two-point conversion to tie the game but failed, so Green Bay maintained a 14-12 lead.

The Packers went three and out on their next drive and were off the field just as quickly as they came on. During the possession, Rodgers’ injured toe was stepped on twice and he clearly appeared to be in pain.

On Cleveland’s next offensive drive, they continued to gain momentum after Mayfield connected with Higgins deep over the middle for 16 yards and the first down. However, Mayfield’s struggles continued and, at the beginning of the Browns’ two-minute drill, he threw his third interception of the game after cornerback Rasul Douglas picked him off around midfield.

And, unlike their last drive, the Packers took advantage on their next possession with Rodgers and Adams leading the way. On 2nd and 7, Rodgers connected with Adams for 10 yards and a first down. Then, on 2nd and 1, Jones rushed for 3 yards to keep the chains moving for the Packers. From there, on 1st and 10, Rodgers found Adams for 12. On 2nd and 9, Rodgers found Adams one more time before then connecting with him for a 1-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the half to extend their lead to 21-12.  

To open the second half, the Packers picked up right where they left off and Jones exploded out of the backfield for a 27-yard gain. Then, on 2nd and 4, Rodgers and Adams connected for another big gain, this time for 17 yards. From there, Rodgers found Jones on a short pass right for a 10-yard play on 2nd and 10 to move the chains. After that, Dillon got involved and picked up 6-yards on 2nd and 4 to keep the drive alive. However, the balanced start wasn’t enough and Green Bay had to settle for a field goal. Kicker Mason Crosby’s 32-yard attempt was good, and the Packers extended their lead to 24-12.

After a pair of strong runs from Chubb, the Browns were quickly approaching scoring position on their opening drive of the half. But, linebacker Rashan Gary came up clutch for the Packers and sacked Mayfield for an 11-yard loss on 3rd and 5. Just like Green Bay, Cleveland was forced to settle for a field goal and their 37-yard attempt was good to cut the Packers’ lead to 24-15.

After an action-packed start to this Saturday matchup, both teams were forced to punt on their next drives. On their next possession, Green Bay continued to struggle and went three and out for the second time in a row. But, Cleveland was eager to break the mold and found success in the run game to help make that happen.  

On 1st and 10 on their next drive, Chubb bullied his way out the backfield for a 12-yard gain to move the chains. Then, on 2nd and 2, Mayfield connected with Chubb in the air for an 11-yard gain to keep the drive moving. From there, Mayfield started to find his sense of rhythm and connected with Higgins for 10 yards and the first down on 1st and 10. After that, Johnson exploded for a 30-yard play to put the Browns at the 5-yard line. Then, Mayfield connected with Schwartz for a 5-yard touchdown to cut Green Bay’s lead to just 24-22.

With just over four minutes left on the clock and a mere two-point lead, the Packers desperately needed to find something on offense to put this game away. Even more so with the run defense slowly falling apart. However, after a nice first down pickup on the ground from Dillon, Adams had two uncharacteristic drops and the Packers were forced to punt with just over two minutes to play.

After dominating Green Bay on the ground, for some reason Cleveland chose to abandon the run game on what could have been a game-winning drive. The decision was deadly for the Browns and, with 50 seconds remining in the game, Douglas came up clutch again for the Packers and picked off Mayfield for his second interception on Saturday to seal the 24-22 win for Green Bay.  

 

What we learned: There’s still work to do

Saturday’s game was a perfect reminder that although the Packers appear to be contenders, there is still lots of work left for them to do. It isn’t anywhere close to doomsday for Green Bay, but they surely need to clean some things up before what is hopefully a long Super Bowl run.

 

What went right: Rodgers to Adams

Congratulations to Santa’s favorite helps, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, for delivering a vintage performance for Packers fans this Christmas. These two are truly a real-life cheat code and now are officially the most productive touchdown duo in franchise history for Green Bay.

That honor really does all the talking.  

 

What went wrong: Run defense

Green Bay’s run defense is getting coal in their stockings this year because, my goodness, was that performance terrible. The Browns averaged 8.8 yards per carry (ESPN stats) and just dominated the Packers on the ground.

This and special teams are two of the Packers’ “must fix” areas before playoffs. Although, I will give special teams a break today. 😊

 

Offensive MVP: Davante Adams

Death, taxes, and Davante Adams clowning another team’s defense. Just one day after his 29th birthday, Adams went off for 10 catches for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns (ESPN stats).

 

Defensive MVP: Rasul Douglas

Rasul Douglas is truly the gift that just keeps giving for the Packers. With 5 total tackles, all of which were solo, 2 pass deflections and 2 interceptions, including the game-sealing one (ESPN stats), Douglas was absolutely defensive MVP in week sixteen. I still can’t believe this guy was on someone’s practice squad.

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers get a visit from the Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff is set for Sunday, January 2 at 8:20 p.m. EST from Lambeau Field.  

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

9 points

Comments (23)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lphill's picture

December 25, 2021 at 07:46 pm

Packers defense regressing at the wrong time , if not for the poor play of Mayfield Packers lose . Poor play calling by Lefluer late in the game .

13 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

December 25, 2021 at 07:55 pm

Adams didn't help with the late affliction of the dropsies.

5 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:12 pm

Lp, when is the right time for the defense to regress?

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Kevin Carpenter's picture

December 26, 2021 at 07:45 am

Any time but the playoff run at the end of the season?

2 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

December 26, 2021 at 10:10 pm

apparently there will be a lot of angry packer fans when the team slips through the playoffs with < 6 point wins, and squeeks by in the super bowl.

i have an idea. scoreboard, bitches.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

December 25, 2021 at 07:51 pm

My doctor has prescribed - that in order to maintain good mental health - that I should only watch the 2nd and 3rd quarters of Packers games.

13 points
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CHEESEHEADDALLAS's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:09 pm

Why don’t start are pass defense in the parking lot and pay the rest of the of the team to stand their and watch with their thumb up their ass instead of trying to stop the run they would more and likely do a better job we do not deserve the win

-2 points
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SteelyPhil's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:12 pm

Never apologize for wins in the NFL but this is about as close as it gets to meriting one.

5 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 26, 2021 at 07:18 am

In the watch Party thread, my comment was never apologize for a win in the NFL, but this one is not something to brag about.

Great minds and all that.

3 points
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fordguy's picture

December 26, 2021 at 03:15 pm

If the Packers are in the Super Bowl and our defense is on the field with 2 minutes to go it could be a 6 beer 2 minute drill.

0 points
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SterlingSharpe's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:46 pm

Remember what the 49ers did to us in the NFC Championship game 2 years ago running it right thru us? It's Christmas, not Thanksgiving, but I'm thankful Cleveland let Mayfield throw so much.

7 points
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ImaPayne2's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:48 pm

play calling is tentative again. no fancy plays, screens, just blah. getting into 2 runs and a pass mode again with too much clock left.
Stokes is an absolute steal for a third round back up fill in.

3 points
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Gman1976's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:52 pm

Correction: Stokes was a 1st. You are thinking of Douglas.

4 points
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Kevin Carpenter's picture

December 26, 2021 at 07:47 am

Stokes is still a great addition. Imagine, if we didn't have him, Kevin King and Isaac Yiadom would be out there. Stokes is such a good young player, but damnit he needs to hang on to those interceptions!

4 points
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barutanseijin's picture

December 26, 2021 at 07:25 pm

That’s the joke

1 points
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GP1's picture

December 26, 2021 at 12:04 am

The whole team and the head coach seem to be regressing; we can't play like that and hope for a long run, much less the big dance in the post season.

5 points
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ImaPayne2's picture

December 26, 2021 at 10:55 am

I think a big big part of the funk on this team is lack of practice due to Rodgers Pinky toe. My guess, LaFlower doesnt want to pass much but would prefer Rog just hands the ball off but the run game hasnt been wowing anyone of late so that screws with his game management.
Jones and Dillon are not lighting it up as of late. Rodgers passes are off the mark and again its that dam pinky toe the should have just removed. LOL

1 points
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Grimbo's picture

December 26, 2021 at 02:10 am

Offense did not look that great either. Here’s what I think is going on with the team. LaFleur helped Barry get defense on track earlier in season while neglecting offense a bit. Then focuses back on offense and gets it going. Then special teams, oh my, did Mo need some help. Focuses totally on that. Defense slides. Offense gets vanilla. So, is special teams fixed? Looked better, that’s for sure. If I’m Lafleur, with Minnesota next up, I go back to helping defense and trying to help Barry figure out how to stop the run. If they can figure that out and figure out what the heck is wrong with Savage, I think this team could get it all clicking at the right time and go all the way. And Rasul! That man saved this defense this year and saved at least 2 games. He’s not the fastest DB, but is physical, anticipates well, and is quick to the ball with great timing. The guy can flat out play!

5 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 26, 2021 at 05:00 am

I'm not going to lie, this was a AWFUL game by the Packers run defense...BUT...This was also the FIRST 100 yard runner the Packers have given up all season. Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come.

Joe Barry needs to get in the face of his defense. Jerry Montgomery needs to get in the face of his D-Line. Jerry Gray in the face of Savage, and Mike Smith in the face of Rashan Gray....ESPECIALLY this last two coaches.

5 points
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ImaPayne2's picture

December 26, 2021 at 10:57 am

Could have been a 200 yard runner and won the game by not allowing Mayfield to pass. If mayfield would have targeted Stokes more and the refs not missed two huse pass interference calls, the packers would have lost again.

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porupack's picture

December 26, 2021 at 07:13 am

I agree with the comments about horrible defense. But one consideration we should entertain: Mayfield is prone to mistakes in over-aggressive, gunslinger type propensity, so it would be a good game plan to yield the run game and set up the backfield for Mayfield's inevitable errant throws. Maybe? Maybe? If so, the defense still would have way under-performed, but the idea and resources to play against the pass play would have been reasonable. They just under-estimated the Brown's oline, who really should be credited for Chubb's great stats. The Browns would be in the top 2-3 olines, I would guess.

2 points
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ImaPayne2's picture

December 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

No coach on the team is as smart as you think they are. I looked into the face of Bary and he looks like a doofus who is in way over his head.
In 15 games plus pre season, Stokes has NOT one iota improved his coverage sklls. Either he is too stupid to learn or Bary is too stupid to show him how to play the position. Hell anyone can sit way back let the receiver catch the ball un contested and come up and make a tackle.
That is not how you do it. Thus there is no genius on this teams coaching staff.

-3 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

December 26, 2021 at 10:07 pm

you must be fun at parties.

2 points
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