'Much left' for Packers to do, but what a weekend

Green Bay’s playoff chances take major jump

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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

MIAMI – The holiday weekend couldn't have gone any better for the Packers.

On Saturday, everything Green Bay needed to fall its way did.

The Lions lost. The Seahawks lost. The Giants lost and failed to clinch a playoff spot. And the Commanders lost.

So Christmas Day, it was up to the Packers to do their part, and they did by rallying from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter for a 26-20 triumph over the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

"A lot has happened in our favor," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "All the games that needed to go a certain way went a certain way."

Most importantly the Packers' own game, which put a serious damper on the Dolphins' playoff hopes in the AFC.

Miami (8-7) has now lost four straight but came into this one a much bigger threat than Green Bay's last two opponents, the Bears and Rams.

The Packers won those games, which Rodgers acknowledged they should've won, but this victory changes the picture and the perception a bit.

"I don't think we've struggled with confidence, but we definitely haven't had a lot of belief outside the locker room I don't think," Rodgers said. "We've been playing a little bit better complementary football.

"It wasn't perfect, but that's a good football team and they had a lot to play for, so that's a good win for us."

There's still a tough road ahead, as the Packers will have to beat the NFC North champion Vikings next week, followed by the Lions in Week 18 when Detroit might be fighting for a playoff spot as well.

But both of those games are at home, with indoor teams visiting the cold at Lambeau Field (though next weekend isn't supposed to be a typical New Year's Day in Wisconsin, according to the long-range forecast).

The Packers also continue to need some help in the form of either one loss by Washington or two by the Giants for a potential 9-8 record to get into the dance.

It's still not a great position to be in, but it's a position that has kept improving in recent weeks, and improved immensely the past two days.

"I'd like to be … what are we, 7-8? I'd like to be 10-5, 11-4," Rodgers said, smiling. "But considering where we were a few weeks ago …

"Now, there's obviously much left, but we've played meaningful games in December and we won all three of those. Now we're playing meaningful games in January, and we've got to win those."

Having this chance felt like a pipe dream at best after the Packers dropped an awfully frustrating Thursday night game at home to Tennessee, followed by a shootout loss at Philadelphia a month ago, falling to 4-8.

But while one story of this team's season has been missed opportunities, and the Packers had those galore again in Miami, another story has been this team's refusal to quit.

Even in games they lost to teams headed to the playoffs, such as on the road in primetime at Buffalo and Philadelphia, the Packers battled to the end.

They're doing the same now, and their chances to salvage what appeared to be a lost season are very real.

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

The most positive outlook following this game is the Packers scored 26 points while leaving a ton more out there, and the defense played its best half of football maybe of the season, against one of the league's most explosive offenses.

Plenty to carry over, plenty to fix, and still plenty to play for.

"What a resilient win by our team," LaFleur said. "Just super proud of the guys in that locker room, sticking together, no flinch."

If the noise coming from the locker room in Miami is any indication, they're as together and resolute as they've ever been.

"The defense tends to celebrate a little louder, I think," Rodgers said, chuckling, of the raucous sounds prior to his postgame news conference. "We're proud of them, too. I think we're just all enjoying the Christmas spirit."

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Packers-Dolphins Game Center

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