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Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' dramatic win over Browns

Historic night comes down to the wire

Green Bay CB Rasul Douglas secures the first of his two interceptions in the Packers' 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, Dec. 25.
Green Bay CB Rasul Douglas secures the first of his two interceptions in the Packers' 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, Dec. 25.

GREEN BAY – The Packers once again hung on for a tense victory, beating the Browns 24-22 on Christmas Day at Lambeau Field.

Here are five takeaways from the dramatic triumph.

1. Rasul Douglas did it again.

Apparently it wasn't enough that Douglas had one of the Packers' three interceptions in the first half that the offense converted into a touchdown.

The former Arizona practice-squadder had to be the hero again, getting the defense's fourth pick of Browns QB Baker Mayfield with 43 seconds left in the game and the Browns less than 20 yards from a shot at the game-winning field goal.

It was the third time Douglas has made either a game-saving or game-altering play, following his last-second interception in the end zone to beat the Cardinals in Week 8 and his pivotal pick-six against the Rams in Week 12.

Receiver Davante Adams called him "a superstar at the cornerback position," and there's "not enough" he can say about him. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers followed up:

"I don't think Rasul is a role player. He's a star," Rodgers said. "He's got incredible ball skills, he's around the football all the time, and he's changed our team. He really has."

All this from a guy signed in mid-October. Douglas was just named a Pro Bowl alternate and now leads Green Bay's defense with five interceptions on the season.

"I've never seen anything like this, I know, in my time in the National Football League, where somebody that comes in midseason has had such a tremendous impact on your football team," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "I love what he's all about. I love how he competes. I love his approach on a daily basis.

"There might not be anybody on our team that watches more tape than him. He's just constantly grinding, working at it, and it's paying off for him."

2. But the Packers know the game shouldn't have come down to the last drive.

An early third-quarter field goal gave Green Bay a 24-12 lead, but on its next three possessions, the offense produced just one first down. Meanwhile, the defense gave up a field goal, got a key stop in Green Bay territory with back-to-back sacks, and gave up a touchdown when it continued getting gashed with the run.

The Browns piled up 219 rushing yards, with Nick Chubb getting 126 of them on 17 carries, with a touchdown.

Cleveland got the ball back one last time when Adams lost a third-down sideline pass in the lights and dropped it, setting the stage for Douglas' heroics.

"That's not our standard, finishing games like that," Adams said. "I've got to make that play.

"It was terrible for me. I'm not going to lie. It was terrible. Obviously 10 times out of nine, I'm making that play."

Lambeau Field hosted the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day.

3. Plenty of history was made in this one.

Rodgers' 11-yard touchdown toss to receiver Allen Lazard with 5:13 left in the first quarter gave the Packers a 7-6 lead and surpassed Brett Favre's franchise record for TD passes. It was No. 443 in his career, and the moment was followed by a scoreboard message from Favre and a video tribute to the new recordholder.

"This is a special place," Rodgers said. "To be a part of history like this is not lost on me at all. There was a part of me that was glad we got it over with … now hopefully we get Davante a touchdown so he can get his record."

Which he did on the Packers' next drive, a 9-yard TD on a blitz-beater over the middle that was the 66th touchdown connection in the regular season between Rodgers and Adams, beating the mark of 65 set by Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Adams went on to get a second TD and finished with 10 catches for 114 yards, while Rodgers posted a 115.1 passer rating by going 24-of-34 for 202 yards with three TDs.

4. It's hard to understand such a mixed-bag performance by the defense.

The Packers picked off Mayfield four times, holding him to a 55.3 rating (21-of-36, 222 yards, two TDs), and could've had five if not for a drop by cornerback Eric Stokes.

They also sacked him five times, the biggest being the aforementioned consecutive ones by Preston Smith and Dean Lowry to force a punt early in the fourth quarter with the Browns on the edge of field-goal range. Stokes stopping a two-point conversion in the first half proved huge as well.

But the Browns rolled up 408 yards in all, gained 28 first downs, converted 8-of-13 on third and fourth downs, and seemingly had the Packers on their heels when that final drive began.

"It's up to us to win the game," was the defense's mentality despite the struggles, according to Rashan Gary, who had two of the five sacks. "They can't score. We gotta keep them to where they're at.

"We had to look each other in the eyes and go to work."

They did just enough.

"To a certain extent, we got lucky," Adams said. "You're just a play away then … if they get in field-goal range and they hit a field goal, it's tough."

5. The NFC's No. 1 playoff seed is squarely in the Packers' sights.

At 12-3, Green Bay remains in command in the playoff chase. In essence, the magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference is down to two.

The Packers can either grab the top seed by winning their last two games, or one win plus a loss by the Cowboys would do the trick as well.

Dallas plays Washington on Sunday night, a day off for the Packers before they return to work Monday to begin preparations their Week 17 home matchup with Minnesota.