Ultimate Game Review: Browns at Packers

The play of the game, the player of the game, a look into the crystal ball and 14 incredible numbers that explain how the short-handed Packers knocked off the Browns. One play, overlooked by everyone other than perhaps Aaron Rodgers, goes a long way toward explaining Sunday's outcome.

Packer Report reviews the Green Bay Packers' 31-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

PLAY OF THE GAME

It certainly wasn't the most memorable play of the game. It almost certainly won't be the most memorable play of Jarrett Boykin's career.

Still, this was big.

With Green Bay leading 7-0 and facing a third-and-8 near midfield, Aaron Rodgers fired a ball to the right sideline, with Boykin making a leaping grab for a gain of 15 yards.

It was just what was needed – for Boykin and the Packers -- on this dreary afternoon.

Pressed into duty when James Jones went down early in last week's game at Baltimore, Boykin caught just 1-of-6 passes against the Ravens. He dropped two passes and appeared to lack chemistry with Rodgers.

That 15-yard catch against the Browns got Boykin off and running. For his career, Boykin – a second-year player who was an undrafted free agent last year – had six catches for 70 yards. Against the Browns, he had game highs of eight catches for 103 yards. His 39-yard catch-and-run set up one touchdown, and he capped the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown.

"I think he's a confidence guy so we wanted to make sure we got him some plays early," Rodgers said. "We wanted to see how we could do with the matchup he had, with Joe Haden covering Jordy (Nelson) most of the game, and he got off to a good start. I think it was the high catch on third down that kept a drive going that I think showed myself and Mike (McCarthy) that we can get him going."

PLAYER OF THE GAME

If Rodgers and his counterpart, Brandon Weeden, changed uniforms, the Browns almost certainly would have won. Because of injuries, Jordy Nelson might have been the best receiver but the Browns would have had Nos. 2, 3 and 4 with Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Davone Bess. They might have had the edge at tight end, too, with Jordan Cameron against Jermichael Finley.

But Rodgers was typical Rodgers. Rather than Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones, Rodgers threw passes to an unsung group of pass-catchers. Rodgers finished 25-of-36 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating was 117.8 was his second-best of the season. He could have forced the ball to Nelson. Instead, he did what he always does: distribute the ball to whoever's open and make the right decisions.

"That's how I like to play around here – someone who takes care of the football and gets us into some good plays, good checks," Rodgers said. "There were, obviously, a few plays I'd like to have back. It wasn't as clean of a night for myself as I wish it would have been but we had a few good checks in the run game to keep some drives alive. If you look at the situational stats, we were above 50 percent on third down and we were 3-for-4 in the red zone. Those were two areas we've been talking a lot about for the past couple of weeks and it's nice to see it show up on the field."

CRYSTAL BALL

The Packers are in first place, and anything they can do to keep winning under this assault of injuries and perhaps build a little margin for error is vital.

They play at Minnesota on Sunday night and host the Bears the following Monday night. The Vikings are playing the Giants on Monday night – meaning this will be the third time Green Bay will face a foe coming off a Monday game. At 1-4, Minnesota is on life support, though it's possible Josh Freeman changes the team's fortunes.

"It's big," McCarthy said of the next two games. "The last thing I left the team with … I'm sure they wanted a day off and all that stuff, but it's Minnesota week and that's important. We're going over to the Metrodome, a very difficult place to play with all that crowd noise that they have over there, and so forth. So, it's a different game. It's always a different game over there and we've got to get ready for that type of football game."

NOTEWORTHY NUMBERS

.897: Green Bay's winning percentage under Mike McCarthy when it finishes plus-1 in turnovers (26-3).

.918: Green Bay's winning percentage under McCarthy when it scores at least 30 points (45-4).

1: For the first time this season, the Packers outscored an opponent in the fourth quarter, finishing off the Browns 14-7 in the final period. Green Bay had scored 16 points in the fourth quarter all season, and allowed 13, 13, 13, 6 and 14 points in the fourth quarters of the previous five games.

3: Red-zone touchdowns out of four opportunities. The Packers had been 0-for-6 in their last two games and 5-for-16 since scoring all four times against San Francisco in Week 1.

7: Individual 100-yard performances by the Packers' receivers, with Jarrett Boykin's 103-yard game against the Browns. They entered the week tied with the Giants and Chargers for tops in the league.

10: Consecutive home wins by the Packers.

20: The Packers have held their opponent to 20 points or less in 10 of their last 11 home games.

21: Career games by Rodgers with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He's 18-3 in those games. The losses: at Minnesota in 2009, at Pittsburgh in 2009 and at Minnesota in 2012.

22: The Packers have scored at least 22 points in a franchise-record 19 consecutive home games.

33:20: Green Bay's time of possession. It has won that battle in its last five games after holding the ball for just 21:25 in Week 1 at San Francisco.

53.8: Green Bay's third-down conversion rate, its best of the season. In fact, it had been over 40 percent just once this season (43.8 percent against Detroit).

216: Yards allowed by the Packers' defense, their best total of the season. After allowing 494 to Washington and 422 to Cincinnati, Green Bay has allowed 297 yards or less in three of the last four games.

357: Yards by Green Bay, snapping a franchise-record streak of eight consecutive games with at least 385.

808: Rushing yards by the Packers, including 104 against the Browns. Green Bay is on pace for 2,155 rushing yards. The Packers have had just one 2,000-yard rushing season since 1985.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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