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Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns anticipated Saturday’s game against the Green Bay Packers as a much-needed win requiring a Herculean performance from the collective to keep Cleveland on the cusp of the playoff picture.
Turns out the Browns only needed a quarterback able to connect with his receivers rather than the Packers’ secondary after the Browns lost, 24-22, off Mayfield’s four turnovers.
Prior to the game, the Browns were sitting at 7-7 — a lackluster result following last season’s 11-5 run.
Ultimately, the night became less about the massive failures of the Browns franchise and a spotlight on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Heading into Christmas Day, Rodgers was tied with Packers legend Brett Favre for the third-most touchdown passes completed on a single team (442). Rodgers usurped his predecessor with an 11-yard touchdown to Allen Lazard, tallying his 443rd score with Green Bay.
Despite the two-point difference in the final score, the night was all Green Bay.
Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for 10 catches, 114 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, running back Aaron Jones put in a satisfactory performance with 66 rushing yards on 12 carries. Rodgers completed 24-of-34 for three touchdowns and 224 passing yards.
Green Bay’s strong suit was their quarterback play, while Cleveland found their success on the ground.
Running back Nick Chubb played like the perennial Pro Bowl back that former general manager Jimmy Haslam picked four seasons ago. Chubb rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Not holding up his end of the bargain after four seasons was former No. 1 overall pick in Mayfield. Baker completed 21 of 36 passes for two touchdowns, 222 yards and the four costly interceptions that haunted the quarterback all evening.
Through all of the errors, the Browns defense still kept the Browns in the game, holding the Packers to three points in the second half.
Mayfield threw a 5-yard touchdown to Anthony Schwartz in the fourth quarter to inch closer to the Packers’ lead.
The Browns faced one final drive to go up with either a field goal or a touchdown. Led by Chubb, the offense appeared to be in rhythm to get in field goal range with less than a minute left. Unfortunately, Baker’s final pick of the night sealed the win for Green Bay — which could have also been a DPI call on the corner.
Cleveland continues to fade out of the playoff picture, falling below .500 (7-8) with the loss. Green Bay continues to prepare itself for a Wild Card bye — already working with a clinched playoff spot and building on their leaguewide lead at 12-3.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela