Christmas Day featured a thrilling matchup in Lambeau, as the Green Bay Packers hosted the Cleveland Browns. Fortunately for the Browns, quarterback Baker Mayfield was activated off the Covid reserve list and was on fire out of the gate, completing all three passes for 60 yards. The drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb. The point after was missed by kicker Chris Naggar, which gave the Browns a 6-0 lead. Despite Aaron Rodgers pushing the ball down the field, Green Bay came up empty in their first possession.
The Browns were inside their five-yard line when Baker threw a ball down the field by overthrew Donovan Peoples-Jones and Darnell Savage intercepted the pass. Aaron Rodgers would make history as he darted an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Adam Lazard who dove full extension to the pylon and scored. Aaron Rodgers’s touchdown pass was his 443 touchdown pass, which placed him in first place for all-time passing touchdowns in Packers history, passing the legendary Brett Favre. Green Bay took the lead 7-6. I’m not making excuses for the Browns’ defense, though Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great and can pick apart any solid defensive unit. Baker continued to struggle as he overthrew Jarvis Landry and was intercepted. It was frustrating, as the team was near the red zone and unable to score points.
Green Bay marched down the field, and this time Rodgers connected with Davante Adams on a nine-yard touchdown pass to give the Packers a 14-6 lead. It was surprising that Adams was wide open as he should be double covered by opposing defenses. On the Browns’ next drive, Baker redeemed himself as he rolled out to his right and hit the tight end, Harrison Bryant, on a one-yard touchdown pass which cut the lead to 14-12 Green Bay, as Cleveland was denied, going for the two-point conversion. It seemed every time Baker dropped back, plenty of pressure was coming his way, which resulted in another interception thrown by Baker. Green Bay would capitalize on the opportunity, as Aaron Rodgers would hook up with Davante Adams on a one-yard touchdown pass to give the Packers a 21-12 lead heading into halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, Green Bay running back Aaron Jones had his way, running for a large chunk of yards. The Browns held the Packers to a field goal, which put the Packers up 24-12. Browns kicker Chris Naggar would connect on a 37- yard field goal to cut the deficit to 24-15 Packers. The Cleveland defense stopped the Packers, which gave them plenty of time to come back. On the Browns’ next possession, running backs Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson provided a spark to the offense. Baker Mayfield threw a pass in the back of the end zone to wide receiver Anthony Schwartz for a five-yard touchdown pass. The Packers were leading 24-22, late in the game. The Browns had time left on the clock, thanks to their defense. Nick Chubb impacted the game as he pushed the offense down the field. Less than a minute remaining Baker, dropped back and threw a pass intended for Donovan Peoples-Jones. Baker was intercepted, which sealed the deal for the Packers. A Packers defender held Peoples-Jones it was so obvious, which makes it so frustrating. That play changed the whole complexion of the game.
Who knows, maybe a flag thrown on the play sets up a game-winning drive for the Browns.
Nick Chubb played well as he finished the game rushing for 126 yards, on 17 carries and a touchdown run. Baker Mayfield did not play well, and not all the blame should be on him. It remains to be seen if he is the franchise quarterback, though I will discuss that in a future blog. The Browns have now dropped to seven wins and eight losses. There will be plenty of questions that will need answers, the Browns have plenty of soul-searching to do. They will need to win out and need a ton of help to reach the playoffs. The Browns will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers on Monday night football.