Packers claim first place after beating Browns for third straight triumph

Jay Sorgi

Jermichael Finley. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Packers claim first place after beating Browns for third straight triumph

CREATED Oct. 20, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct. 20, 2013

Postgame

6:57 p.m.
Mike McCarthy confirms that Jermichael Finley has been hospitalized after today's Packers win.

4th Quarter

6:34 p.m.  Packers' 4th Drive  1:10
After a four-down stoppage in the end zone, it was basically garbage time runs by Lacy and Kuhn...and a useless time out by Cleveland to a chorus of 77,000 boos.

6:14 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  6:07
Green Bay 31, Cleveland 13
Rodgers-Boykin 20 yd TD pass

Ugh.  Myles White with butterfingers, and Joe Haden with the recovery...phew.  Offsides, Browns.  That saves the Packers' rear ends, for now.

Attempt No. 2: This time, after a loose ball, the ball did not go 10 yards...but did a Packers player touch it?  Nope.  Illegal touching by the kicking team and the Packers get the ball.  Jolly gets an unsportsmanlike, though.  Still, Packers ball.

As Jim Irwin used to say, "Just gives them more room to work with."

More room to run the four-minute offense for six minutes.  Lacy gets about 12 yards thanks to a fantastic block-and-sustain by Kuhn.

Pass interference helps out the Packers' cause after a BAD incompletion by Rodgers, a rare one.

Boykin!  GAME OVER!  DAGGER!

6:05 p.m.  Browns' 2nd Drive  8:30
Green Bay 24, Cleveland 13
Weeden-Cameron 2 yd TD pass

Uh oh.  Benjamin takes it 87 yards down the sideline. We knew he could do that.  Hyde saved a touchdown for now.

Update: Finley neck injury, feeling and movement in all his extremities.

4th-goal at CLEV 2: Weeden threaded the needle past two defenders.  Rare great throw today, but a great one. 

5:51 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  11:09
Green Bay 24, Cleveland 6
Rodgers-Nelson 1 yd TD pass

Uh oh.  Ball loose.  Finley had the ball come loose after Gibson hit Finley shoulder-to-helmet.

It would be the second concussion in a month for Finley.  After the first one, his son told him he didn't want his father to play football again.

A stretcher takes him off the field...hopefully just for precautionary reasons, but you never know.

Finley was moving his arms a little bit as the stretcher came off the field.

Back in action, Boykin breaks open, wide open at the 20 on a hook pattern and Ward saved a touchdown. For now. 7 catches, 82 yards for Boykin.

1st-goal at CLEV 1: Nelson.  Slant pattern.  Perfect.

5:41 p.m.  Browns' 1st Drive continued from 3rd quarter
Not a great last 30 minutes of football for Green Bay.

3rd-2 at CLEV 32: Weeden to Whitaker, and Lattimore had little chance of covering him with that slant pattern.

3rd-4 at GB 37: ANOTHER first down converted.  Hyde beaten by Cameron.  Weeden is actually clutch.

Bombage to the end zone...thankfully for the Packers, Weeden far missed his mark with an open receiver.

3rd-10 at GB 26: "Need a stop really bad." - Larry McCarren

Make that 3rd-15 at GB 31 after illegal formation: Hawk's rush creams Weeden and he has to get rid of it.

4th-15 at GB 31: Weeden...STOP MADE!  House with the knockaway.  "Was that a key deflection by Davon House!" - McCarren

3rd Quarter

5:38 p.m.  Browns' 3rd Drive  1:11
Another great batch of run defense, especially by Mulumba, forces nothing on first down...in fact, a loss of four.

5:29 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  5:03
"We need to come up with some points here, Wayne."  - Larry McCarren

Despite a missed block by Sitton, Lacy does enough on an outside run to get seven.  They've got a darn good, productive back with this guy.  The Bama Bowling Ball is making his effect.

3rd-7 at GB 34: Rodgers over the middle and Finley with a perfect hook pattern, owning his guy.  How do you cover that?

3rd-6 at CLEV 47: BOYKIN!  You just grew up with that catch over the middle...well, never mind.  Bakhtiari had Cleveland jersey in his paws.

3rd-16 at GB 43: Nothin' doin'.  Rodgers had to throw it away. 

"Kind of sputtering a little bit offensively." - Larry McCarren

Oh, and here's the Rodgers photobomb of the day.

5:20 p.m.  Browns' 2nd Drive  6:48
Green Bay 17, Cleveland 6
Cundiff 44 yd FG

Just 46 yards from pay dirt, make that 35 after a fabulous dump off to Bess that became 11.

Pass rush gets to Weeden!  Hawk started it.  Williams ended it.  But forget the great yardage after he got to Weeden's face mask.

Oh yeah...looking at replay, he nearly be-headed Weeden.

Now in field goal range, a near touchdown was avoided because of Shields blanketing Josh Gordon.  No catches so far today.

3rd-12 at GB 26: With the south end zone coming alive, a time out was needed.

3rd-12 at GB 26, v.2: Weeden running for his life and found Bess, but a yard gain.  That's it.

5:15 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  8:37
91 yards to pay dirt.   Make that 94 after a holding penalty on Quarless.  Ugh.

Rodgers has to backpedal into his own end zone, thanks to horrible blocking by Barclay.

3rd-13 at GB 6: Kuhn with the dump-off...nowhere near a first down, but a rare case when it's not so bad to not get a first down, because your punter isn't WAY deep in the end zone.

Ugh.  Bad punt by Masthay.

5:10 p.m.  Browns' 1st Drive  10:52
Whitaker goes power sweep for three yards.  Not reminiscent of Jim Brown.

Weeden had forever, and I mean forever, before a coverage sack came from Lattimore.  He bounced quickly after a block to halt Weeden's progress.

3rd-12 at CLEV 40: LIttle SLAMMED by Hawk at the out of bounds line to stop progress one yard short of a first down.  Drive-killing tackles should be a stat.

5:02 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  15:00
Another great crowd on hand today.

A return by Franklin to the 26...a welcome sign.  As Larry McCarren mentions, just 13 yards per return so far this year.

Most running backs would not be able to turn a run on 2nd down with big Cleveland penetration into five yards.  The Bama Bowling Ball did.

Boykin gets two consecutive catches, with the second in traffic for 11 yards.  He's starting to really get it.

Nelson beats Haden again.  Again, a slant pattern.  17 yards.  A Pro Bowl cornerback gets turned around.  Nelson owns him today, and that's key.

3rd-10 at CLEV 27: Uh oh.  Owens with a delayed blitz that was not picked up.  Cleveland wins that gamble.

Crosby's first miss of the year...short from 52.  It was online.

2nd Quarter

4:30 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  5:11
Green Bay 17, Cleveland 3
Crosby 26 yd FG

After the kickoff, some extra anger spills over.  Somehow I don't think it's over the fact the Browns got to wear chocolate brown on their uniforms and the Packers didn't with their old Hershey's brown helmets.

No flaggage, though.

Bakhtiari with a great block to spring Lacy on a cutback run for seven yards.

3rd-2 at GB 39: Nelson beats Haden.  Even against a potential All-Pro, that's stealing.  Nelson is a definite Pro Bowler at this pace.

Rodgers play action, but the Browns were ready.  Had to run for four yards.  Myles White slipped.

"I love when Aaron Rodgers slides." - Larry McCarren
"Why?" - Wayne Larrivee
"So he doesn't get hurt!" - Larry

Lacy with a hole bigger than Swiss Cheese and it's huge first down yardage.  Great trap play.

Lacy's "Alabama Shakes" on a dump-off pass lead to another first down.

After the 2-minute warning...JUST missing Franklin open...WIDE open...at the goal line.  Rodgers may regret that throw.

Myles White with an easy catch over the middle after a slot pattern...but not much there.

3rd-1 at CLEV 14: Franklin up the middle.  Super easy first down.  Plus, Franklin kept both hands around the football.  He learned his lesson from the fumbles.

1st-goal at CLEV 9: Ugly run, but one yard can be a little productivity when looking ugly.

3rd-goal at CLEV 8: Rodgers waits forever, and finally has to throw it away after scrambling.

4:19 p.m.  Browns' 1st Drive  11:36
Green Bay 14, Cleveland 3
Cundiff 46 yd FG

87 yards to cutting the lead in half for Cleveland.  Not very good odds.

They got helped a little after Lattimore got driven off the ball, and the running game gained nine yards.

3rd-.5 at CLEV 22: McGahee with a second effort reaches the ball over the first down line.

Weeden to Gordon.  Perfect throw dropped.  Williams then boneheadedly drops Gordon, and an incompletion becomes a 15-yard gain.

Weeden to Whitaker...and the PAckers knew it was there.  Lattimore and Hawk owning the running back after the short dump off.

3rd-7 at CLEV 40: Cameron with a fantastic catch after a fantastic throw by Weeden for a first down.  In other news, someone just typed "a fantastic throw by Weeden."

Weeden is getting a little rhythm with those short throws.  Another for a first down.

MIKE DANIELS!  He beat his right guard and was absolute money.  "Mike Daniels knows one way to play: all out, all the time." - Larry McCarren

3rd-18 at GB 39: Enough of a run by Weeden to get to field goal range.

4:11 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  (continued from 1st quarter)
Wow.

3rd-6 at GB 23: Jordy.  Over the middle.  Easy.  

Plus add 15 yards thanks to a head butt due to a boneheaded Browns defensive lineman.

Finley over the middle with HUGE YAC afterward.  Rumble, big tight end, rum...uh, never mind. Barclay's blocking malfeasance costs 10 yards.

3rd-20 at GB 42: Finley gets something on a tight end screen...not 20 yards, but it's a field position win if nothing else. 

1st Quarter

4:06 p.m.  Packers' 3rd Drive  1:12
Rodgers to Boykin.  The one-step run-play-with-a-throw, and Boykin should get credit for beating a TOUGH Joe Haden.  Five well earned yards.

3:55 p.m.  Browns' 3rd Drive  3:38
McGahee slams for five yards as the Browns' right side did enough to create some darn good running room.

3rd-5 at GB 38: Micah Hyde!  Wins his one-on-one battle with the receiver who made the catch a yard away from the first down marker. 

FAKE PUNT!  Snapped to the runnng back and he BARELY has the first down, but that will be challenged.

Ref's say first down, but that absolutely should be challenged.

I'm not so sure the refs were correct in saying the ruling on the field should stand.  Elbow down, ball at the 44 yard line...well, maybe.

Wrong, Mike.  At least the refs say so.

McGahee OWNED by Lattimore.   No gain.  Not well blocked, if at all.

3rd-10 at CLEV 44: Darn good coverage.  Darn good by Burnett and Shields  Convergence didn't allow anything there.

3:45 p.m.  Packers' 2nd Drive  9:33
Green Bay 14, Cleveland 0
Lacy 1 yd TD run

Yes, I am a fan of these throwback jerseys with yellow helmets.  Just wish it was blue pants, not khaki.  But I am a fan.

3rd-7 at GB 47: Boykin shows up!  Great leap to get hang time and give Rodgers a great place to throw the ball. 

Lacy "through a sliver of an opening up the middle" (Larrivee) turns a not-so-great opportunity into six yards.  Managable 3rd down.

3rd-3 at CLEV 31: Rodgers forced to go himself, and Finley's "butt block" (McCarren) opens the space for a first down.  His khaki pants got a little wet.

Lacy slamming into defenders with not much, he turned not much into six yards.  That's his value.

3rd-5 at CLEV 22: HUGE HOLE on the left side and the Bama Bowling Ball went rollin'.

1st-goal at CLEV 9: The Packers sweep of days of yore almost goes paydirt.  T.J. Lang looked very Fuzzy-like.

2nd-goal at CLEV 1: Lacy.  Up the left side.  PAYDIRT!

3:33 p.m.  Browns' 2nd Drive  12:22
Play action time for Weeden and Best's hands were...oh, I'm not going there.  Too easy.  So was the catch.  Best failed.

Joe Thomas with a rare false start, anticipating Mike Neal's pass rush.

Interesting personnel move for the Packers in their secondary.  Reflective of lots of mistakes so far this year.

3rd-10 at CLEV 20: Pass short of the mark near the 35.  A.J. Hawk with the big blitz to throw Weeden off.

"A.J.'s playing some of his best football ever." - Wayne Larrivee

Flaggage, however, on the punt as the Packers rush JUST missed the punt block, but hit the kicker.

And because the Packers hit the plant leg of the kicker, it's a personal foul.

"That feels like a turnover." - Wayne Larrivee

Lattimore owned McGahee on 1st down...though he gained two yards.

3rd-1 at GB 37: Lattimore's left hand may have tipped a 3rd-down pass which would have been a first down. 

4th-1 at GB 37: PICK!  House!  Basically as good as an incompletion, but good for the stats. Weeden being Weeden.

3:29 p.m.  Packers' 1st Drive  14:16
Packers 7, Browns 0
Rodgers-Finley 10 yd TD pass

Rodgers starts with a perfect throw to Boykin...not exactly the best catch.  Boykin's body wasn't turned properly.  He wasn't ready for Rodgers' fast throw.

Rodgers vs. a blitz.  That's money.  It is with Finley for 26 yards.  Unstoppable.

Boykin gets his hands on for the first time.  Easy catch, even if just for three yards.  Get Boykin lathered up, perhaps he performs better for you.

A broken tackle by Finley and it's pay dirt!  Make that three broken tackles.

3:25 p.m.  Browns' 1st Drive  15:00
"Weather: scuzzy." - Larry McCarren

Masthay's kick lands in Denmark, Wis.  Weeden will start with the ball at the 20.  Mulumba/Palmer starting.

Weeden "throws wide of the mark." - Wayne Larrivee.  I think we'll be hearing a lot of that.  QB rating 71+.

3rd-9.5 at CLE 20.5: bombage and he went far beyond Greg Little.

And the Redskins just beat Chicago.  The Packers are playing for first place.

Pregame Updates

3:22 p.m.
With the Lions' loss the Packers are :45 seconds away from playing for first place as the Redskins have just scored a TD to take the lead on the Bears.

Coin toss time: Browns call tails, Packers win the toss and will smartly defer.

2:52 p.m.
More exclusive Mike McCarthy with Wayne Larrivee:

- On Browns' defense
"Talented.  They've got some good young players, the nose guard...big pass rushers...top notch corner and some complimentary players in the back half.  They do a good job playing their scheme...a very good challenge."

- On struggles of Brandon Weeden, the kind of QB he is
"He can make all the throws.  I like the system he's playing in.  I've always admired Norv Turner.  He's in good hands.  He's an excellent, developing young quarterback."

- On Travis Benjamin and his punt returning
"One of the most dynamic players in special teams that we'll see all season.  He's our number one focus on special teams.  We've got to make sure we manage him...a threat every time he touches the football."

- On his post-"Keep Calm and Carry On" theme this week
"Everyone has a role, a responsibility...at the end of the day, it's about playing Packers football at home.  These guys are in tune with that."

- On getting the big play
"We need to cash in on the big play opportunities.  We've done a better job of that as of late."

2:45 p.m.
Mike McCarthy exclusively with Voice of the Packers Wayne Larrivee today:

- On "Keep Calm and Carry On" inspiration from his wall at home
"The inspiration comes from my wife, Jessica.  She has a great appreciation for the arts and history...something that helps me on a personal level."

"Going home from work Monday, with all the things going on in our roster, it hits you right in the face.  I thought it was very appropriate for our team."

- Will the Packers play 46 healthy players?
"There's a player or two we're prefer not to play.  We're going to dress 46.  We had a couple guys visit with our medical staff."

- On adjustments at LB and defensive line with injury issues
"We're going to go with our young guys.  Mulumba and Palmer have had a full week of practice.  We're going to do our scheme...the first time we've had all seven defensive linemen up."

- On the chances new receivers like Jake Stoneburner and Myles White will have.
"They're going to have opportunities.  I just want them to go out and play football.  I don't want them to worry...every one of them has a role...go out there and do what they're supposed to do, play at a high level."

- On more emphasis on the run game
"It's a product of trying to be better at all aspects of football...I'm happy with the production on offense, but we know we can be better."

2:40 p.m.
Lance Allan, you DO have good fashion taste. I'd prefer navy or gold pants, but gold helmets ARE an improvement.

2:37 p.m.
Scott Tolzien threw pregame passes to backup QB and former WR Seneca Wallace today.  Is that an option the Packers will use at receiver today?

"That's something the Packers probably wish they would have done last week.  They're out there with Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin and nobody else...they've got to keep their options open." - Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel on Packers Gameday

2:21 p.m.
I'm hungry now.

2:03 p.m. 
Even with Neal active, expect to see a lot of nickel and dime defenses for the Packers today.  Micah Hyde may become a de-facto linebacker in 3-2-6 and 4-2-5 formations.

Apparently, he'll be starting (based on this Green Bay Press-Gazette report):

2:00 p.m.
James Jones is out for the Green Bay Packers, according to the team, but linebacker Mike Neal will be active.

Here's the full list of inactives:

- CB Casey Hayward
- LB Brad Jones
- WR James Jones
- LB Clay Matthews
- LB Nick Perry
- RB James Starks
- TE Ryan Taylor

1:49 p.m.
Looking to get into Lambeau Field?  Now's a good time.

1:09 p.m.
Mark Tauscher, who just became a dad weeks ago, lost his own father earlier this week.  That's why he's not on Packers Gameday today.

Our prayers/thoughts are with you, Mark.

1:08 p.m.
Irony.  Jay Cutler goes down with what appears to be a left leg injury for the Chicago Bears against Washington.  Josh McCown, the guy whose Hail Mary throw to Nate Poole in 2003 for Arizona won the Packers the NFC North that year, is now Chicago's QB.

12:29 p.m.
Our Jeff Falconio has added his three keys for today's Packers-Browns game.

12:22 p.m.
Mike McCarthy channeled WWII-era England's theme of calm this week.

Well, "Winston Churchill" added a few words to inspire the team.

12:18 p.m.
Is this right?  Is Rich Eisen kidding?  Or is this real?  If so...a good sign.

11:26 a.m.
According to Fox's Jay Glazer, we shouldn't expect one of the Packers' key receivers to be able to go this afternoon.

Pregame Story

The theme has been constant all week for the Green Bay Packers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns with nine active roster players potentially out: they will stay the rocky course through the plethora of injuries they face and perservere...calmly.

It's a long, long list of injuries, with those nine and two others added to the injured reserve lists.

But the Packers are exercising the next-man-up philosophy that the situation requires, and that has worked for them in recent years.

Don't forget something rather important to keep in perspective about the upcoming Packers-Browns matchup: Green Bay's quarterback is healthy and a bit better than Cleveland's.

Oh, and if history is any guide, the Browns are really in trouble and will be singing the blues - Packers throwback blues.

Don't let the forecasted rain for Lambeau Field get you down, or angry at your local weatherman.

(Lord Vader must be a Bears fan.)

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