Packers vs. Rams score, takeaways: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay lean on ground game to remain in playoff hunt

The Rams came into Lambeau Field looking to play spoiler in Baker Mayfield's first official start as Los Angeles' quarterback. And for at least a half, it looked like they might, even though Mayfield struggled to move the ball out of the gate. After his own sluggish start in the red zone, however, Aaron Rodgers found a groove leaning on the Aaron Jones-AJ Dillon backfield combo, and the Packers cruised to a 24-12 prime-time victory, staying alive in the NFC wild-card race in the process.

Matt LaFleur's offense wasn't necessarily fully back on track in front of the home crowd. Rodgers threw an ugly deep-ball pick to Taylor Rapp, and Jones lost a fumble in the second half that could've rejuvenated the Rams' chances. But A-Rod also showcased some signature zip while feeding rookie receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs down the stretch. And both Jones and Dillon found success close to the end zone, combining for more than 120 rushing yards and three total scores in the win.

Here are some additional takeaways from Monday's Packers win:

Why the Packers won

Matt LaFleur's side of the ball finally found some balance. In truth, his unit has quietly been on an upward trajectory for weeks. But after a rough start that included Aaron Rodgers' pick and a third-and-goal sack that required them to settle for three, they struck a rhythm. Dillon was the bruiser, excelling especially in the red zone, while Jones had several open-space gallops to extend drives and, ultimately, seal the deal with a late-third-quarter TD catch. Rodgers, meanwhile, fired a lot of pretty over-the-middle strikes in cold weather to keep the Rams on their toes. The defense stepped up when it needed to, limiting the Rams to 13 first downs and 3.6 yards per play, and intercepting Mayfield late to put a bow on the "W."

Why the Rams lost

The battered and bruised offense failed to deliver once more. Baker Mayfield showed fight working with a makeshift supporting cast, but the accuracy and deep-ball touch that underscored his heroic Rams debut was mostly missing this time out, as the ex-Browns and Panthers starter flirted with a couple pick-sixes and ended up completing only half his throws. It didn't help that no one got separation out wide, with Cam Akers "headlining" the pass catchers deep into the fourth. The vaunted defense, meanwhile, fell victim to a handful of big plays despite a strong early showing. Still missing Aaron Donald, the front got to Rodgers a few times but allowed big lanes for Aaron Jones and couldn't prevent quick strikes to Doubs and Watson in the second half.

Turning point

After Matt Gay hit a 55-yard field goal, the Rams entered halftime down just four points. But then came the Packers' first drive of the second half: a 11-play whopper that got early momentum from a defensive holding penalty on L.A., featured back-to-back first-down bullets to Watson and Doubs, and closed with a powerful three-yard TD run from AJ Dillon. Up 17-6 after the score, Green Bay never looked back, maintaining a comfortable lead with time and the weather on their side.

Play of the game

Give it to AJ Dillon, whose first TD broke an early 3-3 tie and set the tone for smashmouth cold-weather football:

What's next

The Packers (6-8) will travel to Miami for a Christmas Day showdown with the Dolphins (8-6), who fell to the Bills in Week 15 and have their own playoff-related reasons to show up. The Rams (4-10), meanwhile, are now eliminated from playoff contention officially. They will also play on Christmas, hosting the Broncos (4-10), who beat the Cardinals Sunday and are set to have Russell Wilson back under center.

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@RamsNFL via Twitter
December 20, 2022, 4:26 AM

Green Bay improves to 6-8. Packers play the Dolphins next Sunday, in one of three Christmas Day games. Los Angeles drops to 4-10 and hosts the Broncos on Saturday.

December 20, 2022, 4:13 AM

Now Jones picks up the first down and the Packers can kneel is out. 

December 20, 2022, 4:10 AM

Christian Watson would have walked into the end zone right there. He apparently didn't see the hand signal from Rodgers.

December 20, 2022, 4:09 AM

HUGE tackle right there to keep Watson out of the end zone. Troy Hill just got him by the ankle.

December 20, 2022, 4:06 AM

Aaron Jones now up to 123 total yards and a TD on his 20 touches.

December 20, 2022, 4:04 AM

Patrick Taylor getting some snaps here while Dillon is in the locker room being evaluated for a concussion. If Dillon enters the protocol, Taylor will presumably have some sort of role next week. 

December 20, 2022, 3:59 AM

Pretty weird passing-game distribution here, folks. 

December 20, 2022, 3:56 AM

The Rams should probably go for this even though it's obviously a small chance of a conversion, because they're unlikely to get this close to scoring territory twice more, which they need to do in order to tie or take the lead.

December 20, 2022, 3:54 AM

Nice job by Atwell to jump into the defensive back on a ball that he wasn't going to catch. That's a heady play.

December 20, 2022, 3:50 AM

Well, now it's basically just like the Baker pick never happened. At least, field-position-wise. Not fantasy-points-wise, obviously.

December 20, 2022, 3:46 AM

OK so this is gonna be wild. Aaron Jones was pushing for more yards, and getting them, but there was a flag on the play, then Jalen Ramsey ripped the ball out of Jones' hands, then there was another flag at the end of the play after the turnover.

December 20, 2022, 3:45 AM
@packers via Twitter
December 20, 2022, 3:44 AM

Uh, I'll let the replay speak for itself on that play. I think Baker got hit as he threw the ball, and then Rasul Douglas pulled a Jakobi Meyers but was fortunate enough for his own team to recover the lateral.

December 20, 2022, 3:43 AM
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