GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – Rasul Douglas and the Green Bay Packers ‘pass defense didn’t let the Cleveland Browns spoil Aaron Rodgers’ milestone day.
Rodgers passed Brett Favre to become Green Bay’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, and the Packers intercepted Baker Mayfield four times in a 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. Cleveland nearly came back from a 12-point second-half deficit before Douglas’s second interception of the day sealed the game with 43 seconds left.
“We have to do a better job of closing games,” Rodgers said. “Our defense closed a lot of games, the last two weeks stopped that 2-point conversion (in a 31-30 victory in Baltimore) and Rasul came up with this big choice. It’s nerve-racking, but winning is tough in this league.
Rodgers scored 24 of 34 for 202 yards with three touchdown passes to increase his career tally to 445. Favre threw 508 touchdown passes during his Hall of Fame career, including 442 with Green Bay.
But it was the Green Bay defense that secured the victory, sacking Mayfield five times and forcing him to his first career performance with four interceptions. The Packers’ three touchdowns (12-3) came after Mayfield’s interceptions.
“It was just some missed shots,” Mayfield said. “Not characteristic, and I hurt this team. That’s the most frustrating thing for me, because I think our defense was great against a very, very good offense. But when you return the ball into your own turf, into the red zone and around the midfield and give them some extra opportunities, they’re going to take advantage.
Mayfield was 21 of 36 for 222 yards with two touchdowns plus those four picks on his return from the reserve / COVID-19 roster, which saw him miss a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.
Nick Chubb ran for 126 yards and a touchdown to lead the Browns’ 219 rushing yards that kept them in the game.
The Browns (7-8) were trailing 24-22 and were third and -10 on the 50 when Douglas caught Mayfield’s pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones on the 40.
Since being retired from the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in early October, Douglas has a five-steal record. He had a decisive interception in the last minute of a win in Arizona earlier this season.
“The coaches have told me that as long as I keep catching them, they will keep coming,” said Douglas. “I just try to catch them when they come.”
Darnell Savage and Chandon Sullivan also had interceptions. Rashan Gary had two of the Packers’ five sacks against the Browns, whose offensive line was wiped out with left tackle Jedrick Wills and center JC Tretter both on the COVID-19 roster.
Until the Browns produced their second-half threat, the day belonged to Rodgers, who broke Favre’s record by throwing an 11-yard pass to Allen Lazard in the first quarter.
“Aaron is breaking so many records,” Lazard said. “Literally every week it’s almost like I’m on Instagram on Monday morning and someone always posts a new record that Aaron breaks. For us, in a way, it’s another day in the office. Obviously, this one is a bigger step in that direction.
Rodgers spent his first three seasons in the NFL supporting Favre before taking over in 2008. Favre messaged Rodgers in a video played on the Lambeau Field scoreboard after the record-breaking touchdown pass.
“Hey, 12 years old, congratulations, man, for breaking my touchdown record,” Favre said. “I have a request. Go get us another Super Bowl. Congratulations.”
“It sure brought tears to my eyes on the bench,” said Rodgers, who greeted Lambeau Field who gave him a warm ovation. “A moment that I will never forget, for sure. I’m thankful for Favre’s post, for the response from the guys and the crowd was obviously really special. “
Rodgers then threw two touchdown passes to Davante Adams, who had 10 catches for 114 yards. Adams has caught at least 10 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns in eight career games, the most in NFL history.
Adams caught 67 touchdown passes from Rodgers, giving them the franchise record for touchdown pass combinations. Rodgers threw 65 touchdown passes to former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
“When you start stacking the numbers for Davante, it’s mind-blowing,” Rodgers said. “I really feel like he’s the best player I’ve ever played with.”
The Packers have already claimed the NFC North title and are looking for the best seed for the conference playoffs as they pursue their first Super Bowl spot since their 2010 championship season. They lost in the NFC Championship game. each of the last two seasons.
Rodgers made it to the locker room at the end of the first half after worsening his toe injury, but didn’t miss a hold. Rodgers played with a fractured left little finger. … DL Packers Tyler Lancaster started in the fourth quarter.
Browns: Visit the Pittsburgh Steelers Jan.3.
Packers: Host the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 2 in their regular-season home final.
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