Game notes: Marcedes Lewis proves again 'Big Dog' still has plenty of bark

Keisean Nixon sparks Packers before exit, Mason Crosby extends streak

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Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis catches a 1-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of the Packers' 26-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 25, 2022.

MIAMI – Aaron Jones didn't get a good look at the play.

While the Pro Bowl running back was getting his ankle taped on the sideline, all Jones could see out the corner of his eye was the image of a large receiver make a running 31-yard grab down the sideline over a Miami defensive back.

When the player stood up and Marcedes Lewis' No. 89 jersey became visible, Jones was awestruck at the play Green Bay's beloved 38-year-old tight end had just made.

"I'm looking at the board and I'm like, 'Damn, that was Marcedes?'" Jones said. "He rewound the clock a little bit."

The 17th-year veteran made two of the Packers' biggest offensive plays during Sunday's 26-20 win over the Miami Dolphins, beginning with a 1-yard touchdown off a corner route in the second quarter that tied the game at 10. It was one of only a select few times Green Bay had deployed four tight ends on the field at the same time.

Coming out of halftime, Lewis ran a wheel route down the sideline and quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered a perfect pass over the coverage of Dolphins safety Eric Rowe. Running back AJ Dillon scored two plays later on a 1-yard TD run to tie the game at 20.

The 31-yard completion was Lewis' longest reception since his 36-yard catch vs. Philadelphia on Dec. 6, 2020. NFL Next Gen Stats clocked Lewis at 17.22 mph on the play.

"That play, even in practice, A-Rod doesn't really let it go like that in practice to me," said Lewis, who has six catches for 66 yards and two TDs this year. "I feel like I had him beat, saw the ball up there and the rest was fundamental after that. Been doing that all my life and I was just very grateful to be accountable when my number was called."

The two plays were critical in the grand scheme of things for Green Bay's offense, which only went 2-of-5 in the red zone. The Packers also went through an adjustment at the beginning of the second half with Jones dealing with ankle and knee injuries, and Christian Watson out for the remainder of the game with a hip injury.

Rodgers made the most of his weapons, with 10 different receivers catching passes. Let Sunday serve as a reminder that while Lewis is known more for his blocking prowess these days, you can't sleep on the Big Dog in the passing game.

"I said 'Marcedes, you still have some wheels son,'" said Jones, laughing. "That's Big Dog. However you need him to show up, he'll show up. No questions asked. He's a team-first player."

Nixon's impact: Before leaving with a groin injury, cornerback Keisean Nixon helped get the Packers started with a 93-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. It's Green Bay's longest since Randall Cobb's 108-yard touchdown against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 8, 2011.

Nixon now has four kickoff returns of 50 or more yards this season, most in the NFL since Andre Roberts had six for the New York Jets in 2018. Nixon also is the only Packers player to have four kickoff returns of 50 or more yards since at least 2000.

Nixon is still searching for his first TD, though, as Justin Bethal tackled him at the Miami 7-yard line. The play led to a 36-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

"That's why we've got him back there, because at any point in time, he can catch one and he can go the whole field," said cornerback Rasul Douglas of Nixon. "I'm hoping sooner and later that it ends up in the way we all want it to end up and we're all hoping it will end up, with a touchdown."

Next men up: Whether it was Jarran Reed stepping in as the five-technique defensive lineman or Patrick Taylor playing some critical snaps with Jones banged up, the Packers saw several role players step up on Sunday.

Reed's presence was critical after durable veteran Dean Lowry left with a calf injury and didn't return. The seventh-year veteran had six tackles, a sack and forced a fumble of Miami running back Raheem Mostert in the second quarter, which he also recovered.

It turned out to be the first of four Green Bay takeaways.

"It was huge. We started feeling their offensive line start wearing down," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "J-Reed did a great job. … We needed him to step up and play the five and he did a great job getting off blocks and getting the fumble and recovery."

With the Packers being mindful of Jones' workload, second-year running back Patrick Taylor caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-9 that preceded the 31-yard pass to Lewis.

"P.T. stepped up. I'm proud of him, happy for him," said Dillon, who had 48 total yards and the TD. "Aaron was fighting through some stuff. He was out there when he could be. It's just really cool to see the entire team all working together and everybody kind of making plays."

The Packers also lost Yosh Nijman to a shoulder injury, with Royce Newman finishing the game at right tackle.

See scenes from the Christmas Day matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Dec. 25, 2022.

'Memories and moments': All week, Mason Crosby did his best to avoid any conversation about breaking Brett Favre's team record for consecutive games played.

"It's one of those where you don't talk about a no-hitter," said Crosby, laughing. "I don't really get into that all that much but it was just literally the end of this week, (my wife) Molly is like, 'I'm so excited for you.' I'm like, 'Wait, what are you talking about? … We still gotta get there.'"

Crosby breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Packers won the opening coin toss and deferred, meaning his opening kickoff would cement Crosby in first place in team history with 256 consecutive games played.

Crosby played an integral role in the win, too, going 4-for-4 on field goals with two made extra points. On New Year's Day vs. Minnesota, Crosby's streak will move him past London Fletcher for fourth all-time in NFL history.

"It's pretty awesome," Crosby said. "A day like this, it's Christmas, come down to Miami and get a great win, these are the memories and moments. It's not my accomplishment. It's just remembering all these type of things that have been so special."

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