On Sunday afternoon the Green Bay Packers scored two early touchdowns on their first two drives of the game and matched that with two fourth-quarter scores as they pulled away late for a win over the Cleveland Browns that, for much of the game, was closer than the final score indicated.
After a quick three-and-out by the Browns, the Packers took over and Jermichael Finley demonstrated why he was going to be a focal point for the
Green Blue and Gold offense today. On the second play of the drive, Finley made a reception deep out of the slot for a 26 yard gain, then two plays later caught a ball on the left side and bounced off three Browns tacklers and into the end zone for the first score of the game.
Brandon Weeden then wasted no time in showing that he's not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Browns. He hit a wide-open Davon House right in the yellow bulls-eye on a 4th-and-one, relng the ball back to the Packers' offense. Then it became the Eddie Lacy show, as the big rookie back carried the ball six times on the ensuing drive for 34 yards, finishing off the drive with a one-yard plunge for his second career score to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Packers' run defense showed some signs that they miss Clay Matthews and company in the run game in the second quarter, as the Browns were able to move the chains into Packers territory. However, a coverage sack by Nike Daniels pinned the Browns back into a third and long, and they had to settle for a Billy Cundiff field goal to cut the score to 14-3.
The Packers ate up the rest of the clock with a 5-minute drive that culminated in a 26-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to close the first half with a 17-3 Packers lead.
Green Bay got the ball to open the second half and drove down into Browns territory (mostly thanks to Lacy). Unfortunately, another drive stalled thanks to a sack on third down, and Mason Crosby trotted out to attempt a 52-yard field goal. Surprisingly, his attempt looked like it would have been good, but it fell just short, and Cleveland took over at their own 42. But, the Packers forced a three-and-out and took over again deep on their own side of the field.
The rest of the third quarter was pretty uneventful, as both offenses were relatively ineffective with the Browns eventually connecting on a field goal to pull within 17-6. The Browns put together a relatively long drive early in the fourth quarter, however, and went for it on offense on 4th-and-15 from the Packers' 31. Davon House made a huge play, breaking up the pass intended for Josh Gordon and giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers and company.
On the ensuing drive. Jermichael Finley took the brunt of another hit over the middle and did not move for some time, eventually being taken off the field on a stretcher. Tashaun Gipson of the Browns dropped his shoulder as he looked to take Finley down, but Finley dropped his head to duck and took the shoulder fully to his head. He was moving his arms as he was taken off the field, but obviously did not return.
Rodgers connected with Jarrett Boykin on a long catch-and-run on the next drive, and he was able to find Jordy Nelson on an inside slant from the goal line to give the Packers their first touchdown since the first quarter and extend the lead to 24-6. Travis Benjamin took the kickoff back to the Packers' 20 yards line, though, and the Browns drove down to the two-yard line. On fourth and goal, Weeden threw a bullet to Jordan Cameron between M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett to get Cleveland in the end zone for the first time on the day and pull within 24-13.
The Browns then recovered two straight onside kick attempts, but both were nullified by penalties - the first was because of an offside penalty, forcing a re-kick, but the second attempt saw the Browns touch the ball before it went ten yards, giving the ball to the Packers. A few nice runs by Lacy and a pass interference penalty on Cleveland brought Green Bay deep into Browns territory, where Rodgers found Boykin wide open inside the ten. Boykin bowled over cornerback Buster Skrine and reached over the goal line for his first career touchdown to make the score 31-13.
The Browns drove inside the red zone yet again on their next drive, but could not get into the end zone, and the Packers were able to run out the clock.
With today's win and tough losses by the Lions and Bears on Sunday, the Packers take over the lead in the NFC North at 4-2, a half-game ahead of those two division rivals. Aaron Rodgers threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns, Eddie Lacy ran 22 times for 82 yards and a score, and Jarrett Boykin led the receivers with 8 catches for 103 yards and one touchdown.
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