2021 Week 16 - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and key players following Green Bay's record-breaking win against the Browns on Christmas Day. 

The Packers improved to 12-3 on the season after beating the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day 24-22. 

It was a historic evening at Lambeau Field, with Aaron Rodgers breaking the franchise record for touchdown passes by throwing No. 443 to Allen Lazard in the first quarter. It was an 11-yard score that required Lazard to dive to the pylon with the ball extended. After the touchdown was confirmed on the field, fans in the stands started chanting “MVP” as a message of congratulations from Brett Favre played on the scoreboard. Rodgers called it a moment he’ll never forget. 

“The emotions just kinda hit me, the gratitude for such a long career, and to be a part of history like that for this franchise is something that I'm really proud of and extremely grateful for. The opportunity to play here for so long,” he said. “This is a special place, and to be a part of history like this is not lost on me at all.”

For Lazard, he felt grateful to be the recipient of the record-breaking score, though it wasn’t something the locker room really discussed prior to the game, at least regarding who would snag the milestone reception. “My reaction was just like, ‘oh sh*t, I caught it.’” He said, adding that Rodgers breaks so many records, he feels like every time he goes on social media he’s reading about another record Rodgers has achieved. 

Speaking of those records, Rodgers and Adams also became the most prolific touchdown duo in Packers history with Adams hauling in two scores to bring his touchdown total to 67 from Rodgers, eclipsing the previous high of 65 set by Jordy Nelson. 

When asked about the record, Adams answered simply “We’re not done yet.”

He also made some history of his own after snagging 10 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns this past Saturday. Adams became the first player in NFL history to register eight games with 10-plus receptions, 100-plus yards, and two or more touchdowns. 

“I’m chasing myself at all times,” he said of his records, adding that despite knowing the rich history of the franchise, he focuses on his play and what’s in front of him, though he called it humbling to keep climbing franchise records. 

“When you start stacking up the numbers for Davante, it’s mind blowing,” added Rodgers. “I really feel like he’s the best player I’ve played with.” 

Even with the historic outing, it felt like a tale of two halves from the Packers offense. The unit scored three touchdowns in the first half, all off Browns turnovers, yet put up only three points in the entire second half. After kicking a field goal with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter, Green Bay didn’t score again.

Adams had eight receptions in the first half for 88 yards, then saw only four more targets (two of which he caught) for 26 yards in the second half. The Packers also went 3-of-6 on third down in the first half, then failed to convert another third down all game, ending the day with only a 30% success rate on third downs (3-of-10). 

The defense, though, helped the offense capitalize in the first half with Darnell Savage, Chandon Sullivan, and Rasul Douglas all snagging interceptions in the first 30 minutes of the game. That led to 21 points for the Packers and helped the team weather a low-scoring second half. 

The unit ended the day with four total interceptions, including the game-sealing pick by Douglas, and five sacks. 

“I think there’s a lot of mixed feelings I would say,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur. “The splash plays are great obviously. The difference in the game was the four turnovers and five sacks.”

Green Bay now leads the NFL in turnover differential through 16 weeks at plus-16, two more than both the Cowboys and Colts. 

LaFleur added that the team needs to be more consistent on an every-down basis, though he called Browns running back Nick Chubb a premier back in the National Football League. 

Chubb became the first rusher to eclipse 100 yards against the Packers all season, with 17 attempts for 126 yards and a score giving him a 7.4 yard average on the ground. The Browns as a whole had a whopping 219 rushing yards and averaged 8.8 yards per carry. 

With his two interceptions, Douglas now has a team-leading five picks on the season, which is especially impressive considering he joined the Packers in October. His teammates and coaches have had nothing but high praise for him since his arrival in Green Bay. 

“I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s a superstar at the cornerback position,” said Adams.

“He’s a star. He’s got incredible ball skills, he’s around the football all the time, and he’s changed our team. He really has,” echoed Rodgers on Douglas. 

“He’s a guy that we can consistently count on to go out there, give great effort, compete to the highest of levels and do his job. And we are very very fortunate to find a guy like that,” said LaFleur, adding that he’s never seen anything like this during his time in the NFL, where a player comes in mid-season and has such a dramatic impact on the team. “We are very fortunate to have Sul and I just can’t say enough great things about him.”

For Douglas, he just wants to keep working. His coaches have discussed at length his penchant for watching film, something he might do more than anyone on the team. In that film study, he looks at which routes he may be able to jump each week to give him opportunities for turnovers. 

“It always transfers over. I go through every week, the same mindset.” Douglas said of how he watches film. “I try and look for plays that maybe I can get an interception on and I can jump. And I always tell my safeties what plays I’m gonna jump so in case I do and it’s not that, hopefully they’re in the post, if not, hopefully Jesus is in the post to save me.” 

Nickel corner Sullivan’s interception brought his season total to three, which ranks second on the team and gives him a career high. He mentioned that his sisters and brothers got to see him play for the first time on Christmas, calling it a day he’ll never forget. 

The front also generated plenty of pressure against Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, with the unit bringing him down five times for a loss of 33 yards. In contrast, Rodgers didn’t take a sack all game. 

Rashan Gary led the defense with two sacks, bringing his season total to a team-leading 8.5. Preston Smith, Tipa Galeai, and Dean Lowry all had one sack apiece. 

Despite giving up over 400 net yards and 22 points, the team still feels like the defense can come up in big moments and end games. 

“Our defense has closed out a lot of games,” Rodgers said, referencing the defensive stop on the two-point try against Baltimore last week and the Douglas interception against the Browns. He added that the team isn’t consistent enough right now and they need to close teams out. 

“We always want it to be on us as a defense. That’s what we pride ourselves on. Getting that stop or that key turnover to change the game or to end the game,” said Douglas. 

“Once we come together and play our perfect game it’s going to be hard to stop, y’all have yet to see us play our perfect game so there’s always room to improve, that’s the upside and that’s the happy part,” added Gary of the team’s performance. 

As LaFleur has said in the past, the team will never apologize for winning close games. There aren’t style points associated with a 12-3 record. “You’d rather learn from your bad plays or your mistakes after a win than after a loss.”

The final two games of the 2021 regular season will happen against NFC North rivals, with the 7-8 Minnesota Vikings coming up next on Sunday Night Football at Lambeau Field.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

6 points

Comments (6)

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

December 28, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Even if we don’t make it all the way to the Super Bowl it’s been a great ride.

5 points
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PeteK's picture

December 28, 2021 at 12:44 pm

However, it would rank as one of the best because of all the adversity we had to overcome.

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 28, 2021 at 01:02 pm

When you get 4 INTs and 5 sacks from your D, I would think the team would have won in a blow out.

Good teams find a way to win...failing teams find a way to lose. Cleveland has lost 7 games by one score, Packers have won 5 games by a score.

4 points
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scullyitsme's picture

December 28, 2021 at 01:24 pm

You are correct, during that span Rodgers hasn’t turned the ball over once, as usual, that’s the difference,

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canadapacker's picture

December 28, 2021 at 01:43 pm

I cherish 2 things every year - Beating da Bears and beating the Vikings. Now not happy with the way that we lost to the Vikes - all it would have taken was to hold onto the INT and a short drive - but now we have the chance to do something to be even more cherished - Beat the Vikes and eliminate them from the playoffs in one swoop.

3 points
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greglombardi's picture

December 28, 2021 at 06:57 pm

"What the hell is going on out there" This year is truly all or nothing, My biggest concern defensive depth is truly defensive... We absolutely cannot lose anymore starters, can you imagine Tyler ( slow as dripping sap ) Lancaster, T J Slaton, J Heflin starting and being backed up by Oren ( I cant tackle ) Burks and Ty ( I cant run or tackle ) Summers with Isaac ( I cant do anything ) Yiadom playing cover !!! You mean to tell me you cannot go out on the street and find better football players than these? ( Really )
This is an all or nothing season, next year there will be changes in the roster starting with the QB ? And once again the star power of this team is in the offence and its good, but without our best two Packer defenders Alexander, Smith ( pray we get them back ) our defense is only a couple players away from another NFC championship disaster..

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