Aaron Rodgers, Packers Overcome Rain, Injuries Defeating Cleveland
Neither rain nor injuries could stop Aaron Rodgers from throwing three touchdown passes en route to a 31-13 Green Bay victory over Cleveland.
"Hang with us fans, it might not be the prettiest game," Rodgers said. "But we've got to ki
nd of win with defense, not turn the ball over and make the plays that are there."
Hanging with the team is never in question. Rodgers and his teammates played in front of the 314th straight home sell-out.
Playing without two wide receivers, a starting middle linebacker and a starting outside linebacker, Green Bay was able to out-gain Cleveland 357 yards to 216.
Rodgers barely missed a beat down two starting wide receivers, he was an efficient 25-of-36 for 260 yards, 3TD, 0 INT, and a 117.8 passer rating.
Following last weeks game linebacker A.J. Hawk said it has been next man for a long time in Green Bay.
Missing Randall Cobb and James Jones, the next man up for the receiving corp was Jarret Boykin.
Second year wide receiver Boykin, making his first career start, amassed game highs of 108 yards and eight catches, and enjoyed his first Lambeau leap when he scored from 20 yards out in the fourth quarter with an impressive display of power, running over a Browns defensive back on the 5-yard line and stretching the last yard for the goal line.
"I just had to stretch it," he said. "I can't be denied at that point." It is that attitude that resonates through the Green Bay roster.
Cleveland tried to keep up. Going for it on 4th down five different times, converting two of them, and even one of those was a very questionable spot to get the first down.
Not able to find the end-zone on it's last six red zone trips, Green Bay converted touchdowns on 3-of-4 this Sunday.
Rodgers to Jermichael Finley was the first of the three and the first scoring play of the game.
Finley had even more impressive display of power on a quick out he broke three tackles including his own bulldoze of a Cleveland Browns defensive back for a 10-yard score and 7-0 Green Bay lead.
Finley was playing wide out with Green Bay down to just three active wide receivers. Finley was in beast mode running through and over tacklers on more than one of his five receptions and 72 yards before he left the game on a stretcher after a nasty hit midway through the 4th quarter.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy got in on the act on the next Green Bay drive, capping an 11-play 56 yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge and a 14-0 Packer lead.
Lacy ended with game highs of 82 rushing yards and 22 carries.
Cleveland put its first points on the board with 5:15 left in the first half on a 46-yard Billy Cundiff field goal.
Green Bay answered on its next drive running the rest of the time off the clock, ending with a Mason Crosby 26-yard field goal and a 17-3 halftime lead.
It was the first game all season in which Cleveland has trailed at halftime.
Neither offense was able to get much going in the third quarter. Cleveland scored the only points of the third quarter.
A poor Tim Masthay punt set Cleveland up at the Green Bay 46-yard line.
It took 7 plays to go 20 yards before Cundiff kicked his second field goal of the game and a 17-6 score.
It was Green Bay's first drive of the fourth quarter, during which Finley was hurt, and Boykin had the games longest offensive play of 39 yards. One play later Jordy Nelson caught his 27th touchdown in his last 34 games on a 1-yard slant putting Green Bay up 24-6.
Cleveland return-man Travis Benjamin answered with the games longest play, an 86-yard kick return all the way to the Green Bay 20-yard line.
Like their last scoring drive it took 7 plays to go the remaining 20 yards when Brandon Weeden threw to tight end Jordan Cameron on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line. This cut the lead to just eleven points 24-13.
A game that looked to be in-hand for the Cheeseheads took a nasty turn when Cleveland recovered the ensuing onside kick. However they were off-sides.
Cleveland also recovered the onside re-try, but this time they were flagged for an illegal touch as the ball had not traveled the required 10 yards.
Green Bay took over and made certain this game was over. On just 4 plays they covered
54 yards ending with the Boykin touchdown and final score of 31-13.
Weeden didn't have any success, even with all his weapons healthy. Poor targeting and timing led to a 17-of-42, 149 yard day with 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 48.6 passer rating.
"It was definitely slippery, but that's no excuse," Weeden said. "Aaron was throwing the ball just fine" in the rain.
Cameron caught seven of the nine balls thrown his way for 55 yards and the one touchdown. Greg Little caught four balls and no one else caught more than two passes for Cleveland.
The depleted Packers, (4-2), go to Minnesota (1-4), while Cleveland travels to Kansas City, (7-0).
Finley left with 10:22 left I the fourth quarter with a head/neck injury. He had full movement of his extremities.
Green Bay doubled Cleveland's yardage in the first half 180 yards to 89.
The Browns were 2-of-8 on third down attempts in the first half and 7-of-18 for the game.
Coming in Green Bay averaged 6.74 yards per play, best in NFL.
Coming in Cleveland held opponents to 4.4 yards per play, fewest in NFL.
Continuing his stellar season Hawk had 12 total sacks and just missed his fourth sack of the year.
As often happens injury can lead to the discovery of good players. Rookie linebacker Jamari Lattimore is one of those discoveries as he has looked outstanding since being pressed into duty. He recorded 12 tackles and a sack Sunday.
Green Bay has found an excellent punt returner in rookie Micah Hyde. He is now averaging 10.7 yards per return since taking over. Hyde has made his presence felt on defense and special teams coverage as well. Even though Cameron beat him on two out routes, the throws were perfectly placed. They had to be, because Hyde was in great position on both. Hyde fell all they way to the fifth round in the draft because he wasn't very fast or even very athletic at the draft combine. But he managed to chase down the speedy Benjamin from behind on the 86-yard kick return.
Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon was averaging 107.8 yards per game receiving. He had two catches for 21 yards in the game.