Packers upset Dolphins to shake up multiple playoff races
Five days ago, Aaron Rodgers said he believed "things are looking up" when asked about the Green Bay Packers' 2022 season. And now he can say the same about his team's playoff chances after the Packers' 26-20 upset win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
"Everything we needed to happen this weekend — happened," Rodgers said after the game.
The victory on Christmas Day pushed Green Bay's postseason probability to 27 percent, per FiveThirtyEight. It also gave the New York Jets and New England Patriots a greater likelihood of making the playoffs with two weeks left in the season.
Tua Tagovailoa threw three consecutive interceptions in the fourth quarter as the Packers rallied from a 20-13 halftime deficit to improve to 7-8.
The @packers PICK IT OFF
📺: #GBvsMIA on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/AwrcEGB7Ry pic.twitter.com/pXgPXoLatE
— NFL (@NFL) December 25, 2022
Rodgers rolled back the clock
It was a vintage game for Rodgers, who looked every bit like the back-to-back MVP in this game despite a season's worth of frustrations leading up to the matchup.
He completed 24 of 38 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown but also threw an interception in the end zone. Rodgers completed huge passes to set up the Packers' scoring drives, though, including a long pass to veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (who caught the first-half touchdown).
Rodgers was especially efficient against the blitz. Miami blitzed Rodgers on 26 dropbacks, according to ESPN, to which he responded with 192 yards and his lone touchdown.
That’s just an absurd throw pic.twitter.com/nbUODFS53y
— Will Parkinson (@Willpa11) December 25, 2022
Dolphins blow big first half
This was a tale of two halves for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.
Miami looked poised for another big offensive outing after Tagovailoa finished 9-of-12 for 229 yards and one touchdown that included huge passes to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill in the first half. But second-half defensive adjustments by the Packers curbed Tagovailoa, who completed just seven passes for 81 yards and the three picks. Hill, who caught three passes for 84 yards in the first half, caught only one more pass for 20 yards the rest of the game.
The Dolphins' final five possessions of the game going back to the second quarter were a fumble, missed field goal and Tagovailoa's three interceptions.
Green Bay's chances to make the playoffs aren't high, but not impossible after this victory. If Green Bay wins out, the Packers have an 89 percent probability to reach the postseason. They also need help from the teams who play the Washington Commanders (vs. Cleveland and Dallas), Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago and at Green Bay) and Seattle Seahawks (vs. New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams).
The AFC playoff race got even more interesting with the Dolphins' loss. The Jets (7-8) and Patriots (7-8) are still alive for a berth and both still play the Dolphins in the final two weeks of the season. Miami (8-7) can still secure a postseason spot with a win over the Patriots next weekend coupled with a Jets loss. The Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) also can clinch the playoffs with a win Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) and Las Vegas Raiders (6-9) are also still in the postseason hunt, though the odds are very long.
It's going to be a wild final two weeks of the regular season.