The Packers nearly did the unthinkable by losing to the winless Browns on Sunday. But, they didn’t. All thanks to a pair of late touchdown throws from Brett Hundley to Davante Adams. The Packers diverted disaster and kept their playoff dreams alive with another walk-off touchdown in overtime. With a score of 27-21 the Packers proved that no game in the NFL is a gimme. Not even against the putrid Browns.
The Packers defense struggled the entire first half. Cleveland crushed Green Bay in total yards and took a 14-7 lead into halftime. If not for two boneheaded interceptions, DeShone Kizer looked far from the lowest rated QB in the league. Context is important when remembering this is the Packers defense we are talking about. A defense that allowed the Browns to go 84 yards in four minutes. Josh Gordon capped off the drive with a touchdown catch, his first since 2013.
Kizer completed 71% of his passes and finished the game with three touchdowns.
The Packers offense was miserable to watch trying to move the ball. The only real excitement prior to the fourth quarter was a faked-punt and a fourth down conversion on the first drive of the game.
For much of the day, Green Bay struggled to run the ball and Hundley failed to find any rhythm in the pocket. Jamaal Williams finished with 49 yards on 15 carries. He also caught a touchdown and rushed in for another.
Hundley would eventually find his rhythm late in the game after the offense ran almost elusively out of shotgun.
A Green Bay drive stalled at the 45-yard line with five and half minutes left leaving McCarthy with a tough decision. After going for it on three different occasions he decided to punt it away.
The Browns got one first down but would eventually give the ball back. It almost didn’t happen if not for an official review. Kizer hit TE David Njoku on a slant that appeared to be the dagger in the Packers’ heart. A Packers challenge confirmed the ball hit the ground.
“On the sideline, the ball was clearly moving. I know I saw that. One official, talking to him, he said the ball was moving, but he didn’t think it hit the ground. The information from the box and the sideline was to challenge,” McCarthy said.
On the punt return, Trevor Davis showed why he won the duties outright. A 53-yard punt resulted in a 65-yard return with 2:37 to go. After some initial hesitation, Davis found the edge and was able to operate well in space.
The Packers moved the ball all the way down to the Cleveland one with 20 seconds remaining. While the clock ran, Hundley slung a dart to Adams for the game-tying score. Tied at 21, the game was destined for OT.
The Browns won the toss sending Packer nation into a frenzy. Could the defense really hold up again?
Yes. Yes, they could. On third and two Clay Matthews hit Kizer’s arm as he released the ball causing it to pop up in the air. Rookie safety Josh Jones won the jump ball earning his first career interception.
The drive started at Cleveland’s 42, though the Packers only needed six plays to end the game. Adams caught a 25-yard slant and turned it up the field for six. Game over.
You could of found Aaron Rodgers on the sideline sweating it out as he yelled strategy into McCarthy’s ear. Clearly, he wants to play. If everything goes well that could be next week. Players have stated that Rodgers looks normal in practice, but it all depends on the bone scan he will have sometime this week. If his collarbone is healed he will play.
McCarthy is not ready to talk about it: “We love Aaron Rodgers, but I will not answer any questions about him today. This is about winning the game, and he’s still in the medical situation and as soon as we have the information we’ll try to get it to you.”
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.