Packers defeat Rams 24-12 to keep playoff hopes alive
By STEVE MEGARGEE
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers aren't giving up hope they can still reach the playoffs, even as they remain multiple games below .500.
A.J. Dillon ran for two scores, Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to Aaron Jones and the Packers kept their playoff hopes afloat with a 24-12 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night amid freezing conditions. The temperature was 15 degrees (minus-9 celsius) with a wind chill of 7 just before the opening kickoff.
"We've just been practicing a little bit better," Rodgers said. "The energy's been a little bit better. It's hard to put your finger on it. We've played a couple of teams we should have beat, so that being said, it's still tough to win in the league. And I've said it earlier, I think we can beat anybody. We can also lose to anybody. But when you win a couple in a row, it starts to give you some confidence."
The Packers (6-8) likely must win out and get plenty of help to earn a fourth straight postseason berth. They visit Miami (8-6) on Sunday before hosting the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) and Detroit Lions (7-7) in their final two games.
"We know that we're in a one-game season from here on out, from here until the end of the year," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.
Dillon put Green Bay ahead for good with a tiebreaking 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and also scored from 1 yard out in the third period. He ran for 36 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game midway through the second half to be evaluated for a concussion.
Rodgers went 22 of 30 for 229 yards with a touchdown and interception to win his ninth straight "Monday Night Football" start, even though the four-time MVP acknowledged he's at the stage of his career when these late kickoffs aren't so much fun. The longest "Monday Night Football" winning streak by any starting quarterback is owned by Kenny Stabler, who won 11 straight from 1975-80.
"When you're a young player, you dream about playing on Monday nights," said Rodgers, who turned 39 earlier this month. "When you're an older player, you want those noon games. So, it's past my bedtime. I'm ready to go home and go to sleep."
Rodgers' lone touchdown pass was a 7-yarder to Jones, who rushed for 90 yards and had four catches for 36 yards.
The Rams (4-10) have matched the highest loss total by any defending Super Bowl champion. When John Elway retired after leading Denver to consecutive Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, the Broncos finished 6-10 in 1999.
Los Angeles played this game without several notable injured players, including three-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald and All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp. Quarterback Baker Mayfield made his first Rams start with injuries sidelining Matthew Stafford and John Wolford.
"This has been a real struggle in a lot of instances, a lot of adversity that we've gone through," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "But I think what we've seen from our guys is that they're going to continue to battle. They're going to finish up these last three games the right way, with the right mindset and mentality and we'll compete to the best of our ability. That's all I know how to do and I trust that that's exactly what we'll do collectively as a group."
Mayfield had rallied the Rams to a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 8, less than 48 hours after they had claimed him off waivers from Carolina. Mayfield wasn't as effective Monday, going 12 of 21 for 111 yards with a touchdown and interception
His touchdown was an 8-yarder to Tyler Higbee, the first touchdown by a Rams tight end this season.
Mayfield was sacked five times while working behind an offensive line missing center Brian Allen, who injured a calf on the game's first play from scrimmage. Preston Smith recorded two sacks for Green Bay.
The Rams also got field goals of 33 and 55 yards from Matt Gay, who also sent an extra-point attempt wide right. Gay's 55-yarder matched the third-longest field goal anyone has ever made at Lambeau Field.
Mason Crosby had a 34-yard field goal for Green Bay while playing his 255th consecutive regular-season game to tie Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre for the longest streak in franchise history.
Along with the Dillon and Allen injuries, Rams LB Jake Gervase injured an ankle late in the first half.
Rams DT and three-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald missed a third straight game with a high ankle sprain. The Rams also were missing DT Marquise Copeland (ankle), LB Travin Howard (hip) and DB David Long Jr. (groin).
Packers OT David Bakhtiari missed a second straight game as he recovers from an appendectomy.
Rams: Host Denver on Sunday.
Packers: At Miami on Sunday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated December 20, 2022