Aaron Rodgers is now 2-0 on Christmas Day, and this year his gift was his 443rd touchdown to pass Brett Favre on the Packers’ all-time passing touchdowns list. After the touchdown was confirmed, Favre delivered a message to Rodgers and everyone in attendance at Lambeau Field.
“Go get us a Super Bowl,” he said.
The good news is another win has Green Bay still in control of the top seed in the NFC, but the bad news is it wasn’t a great showing from the defense despite four forced turnovers. Cleveland crept back into the game late as the Packers’ defense allowed their first 100-yard rushing game to Browns running back Nick Chubb. Chubb is one of the best in the business, but they came in with a very poor game plan to limit his impact.
This defense has been trending in the wrong direction for the past month and needs to do something to correct it. Luckily, they have a top-tier offense that can outscore anyone you put in front of them. Still, it would get a player like Jaire Alexander back to provide a boost.
In the end, it’s a win Green Bay will happily accept, and while we’re at it, let’s check out the standouts.
S Darnell Savage
Savage had one of his worst games of the season last week against the Baltimore Ravens, but the Packers’ safety rebounded by intercepting Baker Mayfield in a solid follow-up performance. The interception came on a play in which Mayfield looked deep down the field for wide receiver Donavon Peoples-Jones. However, Jones was double covered by Savage and Rasul Douglas. Savage, who had great leverage over the top, easily came down with his second pick of the season.
Edge Rashan Gary
With a little help from his teammates, Gary is now up to 8.5 sacks for the season. With Cleveland threatening to score at Green Bay’s 15-yard line, Kenny Clark helped set up Gary’s first sack on Mayfield for a loss of nine. The sack eventually led to a 3rd and long in which Mayfield threw his second interception of the game to Chandon Sullivan. Then, in the third quarter, Preston Smith was the first to get a hand on the quarterback, but Gary was there to finish things off on third down. The Browns were forced to attempt a field goal after an 11-yard loss. Gary has been the team’s most disruptive pass rusher and is starting to make a name for himself after he was named an alternate to this year’s Pro Bowl.
Edge Preston Smith
Smith could end up getting a half-sack for his role in Gary’s second sack, but he left no doubt on his play with the Browns driving in the fourth quarter. Smith got around Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio before tracking down Mayfield, who was looking to step up in the pocket. Now up to eight sacks on the year, Smith earned himself a $750,000 performance bonus, which could go up even more if he continues to rack up sacks. He finished the year with just four sacks in 2020.
DE Dean Lowry
Right after a sack by Smith, it was Lowry who took Mayfield down for the defense’s fifth sack of the game. Lowry used his power to overcome the left guard and sack Mayfield for a loss of eight. Backed out of field goal range thanks to Lowry, Cleveland was forced to punt down by nine in the fourth quarter. Lowry’s pivotal play set a new career-high with four sacks in a single season.
CB Rasul Douglas
Not one, not two, not three, but four interceptions were thrown by Mayfield and two fell in the hands of Douglas. It seems like Douglas’ play has been highlighted in every game since he was signed from the Arizona Cardinals practice squad earlier in the season, but it’s kind of hard not to when he keeps making plays week after week. Douglas made a nice adjustment to record his fourth interception of the season on a pass intended for Jarvis Landry. It appeared Landry was wide open downfield until Douglas utilized a speed turn to jump the route. Douglas flashed his ball skills yet again in crunch time with the game-ending interception on a pass intended for Peoples-Jones. It’s the second time he has made the game-winning interception, with his first coming against the Cardinals in Week 8. Douglas is now up to a team-high five picks in 2021.
QB Aaron Rodgers
The accolades keep piling up for Rodgers, but this one is extra special as he passes his predecessor on the all-time passing touchdown list. Rodgers delivered a strike to Allen Lazard, who did the rest finish the touchdown on Green Bay’s second drive. Rodgers, of course, wasn’t done yet. After having his injured toe stepped on a couple of times throughout the game, he continued to dissect the Browns’ defense. The second half wasn’t nearly as productive, but Rodgers finished the game with a completion percentage over 70 percent, 202 passing yards, and three touchdowns. With two games left in the regular season, Rodgers could very well win his fourth MVP award and second in as many years thanks to his impressive play.
WR Allen Lazard
Lazard was on the receiving end of Rodgers’ record-breaking touchdown pass. He helped deliver the goods on a nice second-effort reach for the endzone to punch in the 11-yard score to pass Favre. However, Lazard didn’t stop making plays after making history. On the following drive, he made an incredible one-handed grab against tight coverage. Lazard hauled in the pass running down the sideline and picked up 34 yards in the process. The versatile receiver also added a 13-yard rushing attempt to his stat line. Lazard finished with two catches for 45 yards and continues to be one of the most reliable players on the team.
RB Aaron Jones
It was only right for Jones to have a big day after a touching tribute to his late father in the pre-game show. Jones has picked it up in the last two weeks since an MCL sprain in Week 10. He put up 58 yards on the ground in Baltimore and added 66 more on 12 carries against a top 10 run defense in Cleveland. Jones is starting to get back on track at the right time with the playoffs rapidly approaching.
WR Davante Adams
He didn’t catch the big one, but Adams still came away with two touchdowns and another 100-yard game. That’s three out of the team’s last four games with at least 100 receiving yards for the Green Bay receiver, who was also named to his fifth straight Pro Bowl. The Browns did not have a special defensive package to take away Adams similar to how the Ravens did but perhaps they should have. Adams caught 10 out of 13 targets 114 yards, including a 33-yarder against Pro Bowl corner Denzel Ward in the first half.
LT Yosh Nijman
Myles Garrett was playing through a groin injury, but you didn’t hear his name called much going up against Nijman. With David Bakhtiari out for another week, Nijman made his seventh career start only to be matched up with possibly the defensive player of the year. However, Nijman held Garrett to zero sacks and just one QB hit on the day. Nijman exited the game briefly during the fourth quarter with an apparent injury, but he did return.