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Inbox: There's no more reliable formula for victory in this crazy league than …

That’ll never change

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CBs Jaire Alexander & Rasul Douglas

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

Hi Spoff! Are you sifting through joyful comments on the plane? Thanks for missing family time to bring us news on our beloved Packers.

It was my pleasure for a game like that. A Christmas like none other for me, I'll say. A season like no other for me, too, so I guess it all fits.

Dale from Fenton, MI

Now it's getting interesting!

Sure is.

James from Appleton, WI

I saw more than three ghosts in the first half, but in the second half, the defense put a twist on Dickens and, instead of serving the Christmas goose, dished up a goose egg. God bless us, everyone!

Not bad.

Will from Glendale, AZ

Is Rasul Douglas going to be known as Santa Claus after gift wrapping two Packers wins on back-to-back Christmas games?

Rather remarkable. Aaron Rodgers has more TD passes than any QB on Christmas, but Douglas' three picks now must be a top holiday mark as well. Hat tip for Rasul's much improved situational awareness compared to last week.

Emma from Davenport, FL

I was fortunate enough to drive down to Miami to see the game. It's hard to explain how gratifying it is to hear thousands of Packers fans cheering "Go Pack Go" in an opponent's stadium!

Hat tip to you, too, for showing up and showing out. The green and gold fans made themselves heard, and there were a lot of empty seats. They don't like 47 degrees down there, I guess. For the record, it was the second-coldest Dolphins home game ever, behind a 40-degree contest vs. Kansas City in 1989.

Steven from Alexandria, MN

Tua really just wanted to read Path to the Playoffs with the rest of us!

Ha. As I was hustling to the elevator to get downstairs after filing the bulletin on the final, I heard two Dolphins employees talking and one said, "Man, we usually back our way into the playoffs. Now we're backing our way out of them." Tua was having a tremendous year but had an awful quarter of football at the wrong time. His season INT total went from five to eight in three possessions.

Vince from Auburn, VA

Joe Barry's words of advice to the defense at halftime – "Read Tua's eyes."

I thought LaFleur's postgame comment about Tua being a very anticipatory thrower was interesting, as were Douglas' comments about the chewing out the DBs got at halftime from Jerry Gray.

Brian from Reno, NV

I know interceptions are more flashy but the play of the game was the fumble recovery before halftime. Grab three points, score a touchdown after halftime, and it was game on from there. The game wasn't perfect but that's complementary football to give yourself belief. Here's to getting the guys who were nicked up back healthy next week!

I actually felt in the moment the Packers blew that chance before halftime, getting the ball at midfield on the fumble and settling for a long field goal. But when they cashed in the opening drive of the second half for a TD (for the second straight week, mind you), all the missed opportunities didn't mean anything at that point. It was a quarter and a half to go in a tie game. Play ball, and the Packers were far less mistake-prone at crunch time.

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

Andrew from Burke, VA

It's incredible what a turnover and field goal before halftime can do for a team. If Miami scores and goes up 27-10, I think that may have been the end of the game, and the season. Did you see any other momentum shifts bigger than that one?

Alexander's INT came one play after the non-DPI INT in the end zone. A turnabout can't occur any quicker than that.

Jake from Albuquerque, NM

I was able to open my Christmas present late. When is the last time the Packer defense got three interceptions on three consecutive opponent drives?

The last time Green Bay had three picks in the fourth quarter was at Houston in October of 2012, and those did come on three straight possessions. If it happened in another quarter anywhere in between I'm not aware.

Lance from Grafton, WI

They sure come in bunches, don't they.

Clichés may be boring but they're also true.

Douglas from Bemidji, MN

After the Big Dog (non) catch was shown on replay, I'm screaming at Aaron Rodgers to snap the ball and they just took their time. Why wouldn't the Dolphins challenge that?

Maybe they didn't get a good look at the replay or thought it was too iffy to overturn, I don't know. It wasn't a slam-dunk reversal in my view.

Pete from Hillsborough, NC

The Packers are finally playing some complementary football. Now if they can just play some complete football, it would be a lot easier on the heart.

They left a lot of points out there, but that was also no slouch of a team they just beat. The margin is always thin, especially against contending teams. I thought on second-and-13 from the 18-yard line AJ Dillon was going to burst into the end zone to clinch it and make it easier on all our nerves. That hole was so huge.

Greg from South Bend, IN

After watching the past few weeks of football is appears there are less illegal contact penalties being called than the first six weeks. It also appears the time it takes to call forward progress is taking longer than the first few weeks. Did the NFL change their point of emphasis in the second half of the year?

Not that I know of, but I agree with your observations. Apparently pass interference isn't a penalty on Christmas either.

Randy from Grand Junction, CO

Mike, do you eat with that mouth (just kidding)? What a game. They need to do something about the officiating. You have had some pretty good ideas maybe they should listen to them?

That's about as frustrated as I've ever gotten in the live blog with the officials. I'd really like to know after the league supervisors review that game how they assess that crew's afternoon of work. I have to go back to channeling my inner Dory … just keep playing, just keep playing.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, with the season on the line, the injured Packers didn't return to the game. Do you think that says a lot about their probable availability for the last two games?

No way to know. Keisean Nixon and Christian Watson were ruled out pretty quickly. I'm assuming Watson's hip injury occurred on that wallop he took on the fourth-down reception just before halftime, and it would be a shame to lose the return spark just when he reached his hottest. Nixon has been developing into a defensive fixture, too. Yosh Nijman and Dean Lowry are two experienced big guys you'd like to have available here as well. We'll have to see. But props to Innis Gaines, Darnell Savage and Devonte Wyatt for stepping up on defense, and Royce Newman for hopping in at right tackle after a long layoff. Newman sat right in front of me on the bus ride to the stadium, so I'm filing that one away.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Mike, you never know a good book after reading the first page. Rarely do you know it before you're halfway through. After Week 16, this book is heating up. They are making the plays at crunch time now. And to be honest, sometimes, that's all it takes.

There's no more reliable formula for victory in this crazy league than being the better team with the game on the line. That'll never change.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

Absolutely loved the triple block by Allen Lazard and his and Rodgers' reactions after the play. It was a critical play on that drive.

It certainly was. I believe my comment in the live blog referenced bowling pins. Kudos to Mike McDaniel for the strategy with the intentional offside to follow, but that run by Jones forced the Dolphins to use all their timeouts, and the clock was past the two-minute warning when they got the ball back for the last time.

Kyle from Baldwin, WI

Hi Mike, first off, wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas...Wes too! And to say thanks for the great in-game blog. I watched Rodgers' postgame interview and was wondering if you were the "Mike" he addressed when talking about playoffs. I thought his response was entertaining.

Yeah, that was me. The nasty Midwest weather prevented several Green Bay media from getting to the game, so I was doing my best to ask LaFleur and Rodgers questions to help out everyone with their stories, and my own of course. I was taking live notes on my laptop at the same time, too, which helped me get my game recap sent back on the bus ride and the editorial shipped before the plane took off. I missed a couple road trips this year, but I was back in the zone yesterday, baby. I hope Vic is proud.

Mike from Wilson, WI

Sean Payton is looking at returning to the NFL and will garnish a hefty sum. Is there a cap on coaches' salaries?

Nope.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Which team has been the biggest surprise so far this season and which team has been the biggest disappointment?

For biggest surprise I'll go with the Vikings. Improvement was expected after 7-9 and 8-9 the past two years and the regime change that followed, but 12-3 with two games left is still eye-opening. There have been a lot of disappointments in the NFL this season, but I'd have to put the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams, yesterday's blowout win notwithstanding, at the top of the list.

John from Johnstown, NY

I know I'm getting ahead of myself here but should we all start sending Mike McCarthy gift packages asking him to play his starters Week 18? Crazy to think GB's playoff chances may come down to whether or not their former coach plays his starters in the final week.

That's certainly beyond anyone's control, so I guess it's, yup, sorry, just beat the Vikings.

Adam from Great Meadows, NJ

This is why Rodgers wanted to play until the Packers were officially eliminated. Nothing against Jordan Love. But as I sit here on Christmas night, the Packers have a pair of "playoff" games at home in January. Win both, and they might just sneak in. Just beat the Vikings, I know. But I can't lie...I'm giddy right now.

This is why you don't throw in the towel until the math (as little of it as we allow in Inbox) says you're out, and there's no such thing as being in until the math says so as well. The Dolphins were 8-3 a month ago and now they're fighting for their playoff lives just like the Packers have been. You just never know in this league.

Stan from Jupiter, FL

The Fins' top two wideouts combine for 246 receiving yards, GB's running back tandem is held to 61 yards rushing and the Pack loses both its top deep threat and its newfound phenom return man. Pack loses by 14, right?

Did I mention you just never know?

Ben from Pensacola, FL

There is hope! And it finally doesn't seem like a fool's hope. Bring on the Vikings, and let's see if their luck will run out.

It seems a given next week's contest will be decided by one score, with the Vikings' incredible streak in close games either continuing or ending. It's hard to envision anything else.

Eric from York, PA

Morning Mike,

Seattle loss, check; Giants loss, check; Washington loss, check; Detroit loss, check; Packers beat Miami, check! Best Christmas present ever. Just beat the Vikings! Looking forward to Path to Playoffs as well as a Lego Miami recap! Have a great week and hope you got home in time to celebrate some Christmas with your family!

Oh yeah, the Lego idea from a couple weeks back. I'll pass that along again for anyone who needs the reminder.

Bob from Eau Claire, WI

My smart watch keeps sending me relax reminders during the game.

Are they working?

Tony from San Juan Capistrano, CA

Mike, my wife has been in the hospital for several days now and we're spending Christmas away from our family – not the Merriest Christmas. But our Packers have given us, and all Packer Nation, a wonderful gift as we get to keep our hopes alive for another week as the NFL landscape shifted in our direction. Best holiday wishes to you and Wes!

Best to you as well, and to your wife for a full and speedy recovery.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

The Packers don't decide their own destiny yet but the dust has mostly settled.

Based on the matchups, the help might be harder to come by, but there's only a little left that's required.

Vishnu from Granite Bay, CA

How crazy is it that this will be Kirk Cousins' first start at Lambeau in December/January since he joined Minnesota in 2018?

Hadn't realized that, but it's interesting.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Mike. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! Go Pack Go!

Who needs to channel Dory when we've got Blutarski.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

They fought through some bad plays and owned the second half. Got all the help they needed on Saturday. Wash, rinse and repeat next weekend.

Sounds like a plan. Happy Monday.

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