Packers pick off victory in Miami, knocking off Dolphins 26-20

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida − As the rest of the NFC crumbles around them, the Green Bay Packers gave themselves a big Christmas gift Sunday afternoon.

The Packers left South Florida with a 26-20 win against the Miami Dolphins, giving tangible life to what up to this point has been long-shot playoff hopes. Their win came on the same holiday weekend Washington, Seattle, Detroit and the New York Giants – four teams they’re chasing in the seedings – all lost.

It was the Packers third straight win, but this one felt different. After beating the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams, the Packers merely took advantage of two teams among the worst in the NFL. The Dolphins were fighting for their playoff lives, sitting in the AFC’s seventh and final postseason spot when the day began.

BOX SCORE:Packers 26, Dolphins 20

The Packers pulled into a tie with the Seahawks and Lions at 7-8, a half game behind the Commanders (7-7-1). If they win their final two games – both at home against the Minnesota Vikings and Lions – they are likely to win head-to-head tiebreakers against Seattle and Detroit. They would need the Commanders to lose one of their final two games against the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys.

Can’t ask for much more heading into the new year.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacts during the second quarter.

The grinch that stole Christmas

To mitigate the Dolphins explosive offense, the Packers were going to need to force a couple of holiday turnovers. The problem: takeaways have not been this defense’s strength all season. The Packers entered Sunday with a minus-3 turnover margin. A big reason was because the defense had only 16 takeaways in 14 games, tied for 19th in the NFL. Jarran Reed got a big takeaway before halftime, stripping Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert and recovering the fumble when Miami was near midfield. Backed up in their own territory, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa airmailed an open receiver and hit cornerback Jaire Alexander in the chest. Alexander picked it to set up a field goal that gave the Packers a 23-20 edge, their first lead of the game. A drive later, with the Dolphins in field-goal range, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell stepped in front of a Tagovailoa pass intended for Mostert and intercepted it. The dagger came when Rasul Douglas intercepted Tagovailoa’s third pass of the game inside the 2-minute warning, sealing the win. The Packers won the turnover battle Sunday 4-1, a big reason they stole a win in Miami.

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