3 Takeaways from Packers' Week 15 Win
For the third season in a row, the Green Bay Packers are the NFC North champions. And with the way they have been playing of late, they could be on their way to much bigger things.
On Sunday, Green Bay became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth when it held on for a 31-30 win over the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The Packers have won three straight games to improve to an NFL-best 11-3, and they also lead the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Baltimore cut Green Bay's lead to one point with 42 seconds to go in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who started in place of the injured Lamar Jackson. However, the Ravens went for a two-point conversion to try to take the lead and failed, allowing the Packers to hold on for the victory.
Here are three takeaways from Green Bay's Week 15 win.
The Defense Came Through on Game's Biggest Play
Green Bay's defense allowed 354 total yards and let Huntley lead Baltimore back into the game late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens' second-string QB scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the final five minutes to almost erase the Packers' 14-point advantage.
However, it all came down to one play when Baltimore opted to try for the two-point conversion that could have led it to victory. Huntley rolled to the right side and tried to find tight end Mark Andrews, who had already scored a pair of touchdowns.
But the Packers secondary clamped down and forced an incompletion. So even though the unit didn't have its greatest showing defensively, it stepped up and made a huge play with the game on the line.
"They play to win," Green Bay safety Adrian Amos said, per Mike Spofford of the team's official site. "That's how they play. That's how they operate. They go for it. We just had to make a stop."
The Packers did just that, and they picked up another impressive win because of it. It proves that Green Bay is capable of pulling out victories in close games, which could be a crucial skill to have later in the season.
Rodgers Making Push to Win Another NFL MVP
Rodgers went 23-of-31 for 268 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's win over the Ravens. He has 13 touchdown passes over his past four games, and in 13 contests this season, he's passed for 3,487 yards, 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
"He doesn't turn the ball over," Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling said, per The Athletic's Matt Schneidman. "He makes throw after throw, that you're just like, 'How did he get that ball in there?'"
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady likely remains the front-runner to win NFL MVP, but he's slowed down after his torrid start to the season. Plus, the Packers are one game ahead of the Bucs for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so Green Bay could end up with a better record than Tampa Bay.
With three weeks to go in the regular season, either of these star signal-callers could make a final push to secure NFL MVP. But Rodgers has put himself in the mix with his recent play, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he won the award for the fourth time in his career.
Green Bay Has Solidified Itself as a Super Bowl Contender
After an offseason filled with questions surrounding whether Rodgers would return to the team, the Packers opened the 2021 campaign with a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. But Green Bay has the best record in the NFL through 15 weeks and is one of the top contenders to win the Super Bowl.
It may have seemed unlikely heading into the season, and especially after Week 1, but the Packers have found ways to again have success. Now that they have clinched the NFC North, they will look to secure the top seed in the NFC by finishing strong over their final three regular-season games against the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
Green Bay can become the only NFC team to receive a first-round bye for the playoffs by winning each of its final three games, as it has a one-game advantage over the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals, all of whom are 10-4. So the Packers are in an ideal spot in which they control their own destiny.
Could this season result in Green Bay winning its first Super Bowl championship since the 2010 campaign? It has put itself in the conversation with another strong regular season, and it could keep building momentum toward that goal down the stretch.