Despite having losing records for the 2022 season, the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved closer to securing spots in the NFL playoffs by winning on Sunday.
The Packers defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-20 and the Buccaneers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 19-16 in overtime in Christmas games. In the middle game of the NFL’s holiday tripleheader, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Denver Broncos 51-14 in a meeting of teams playing out their regular-season schedules.
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Green Bay and Tampa Bay have 7-8 records. But with two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Packers trail by one-half game in the NFC wild-card standings and the Bucs are a win away from capturing the NFC South crown and its accompanying home playoff game.
During the Christmas games, 16 players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field:
Green Bay Packers 26, Miami Dolphins 20
· Dolphins guard Lester Cotton (Central-Tuscaloosa, Alabama) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Raekwon Davis (Alabama) started at nose tackle for the Dolphins. Davis made three tackles. One of Davis’ tackles came with Green Bay in punt formation. On fourth-and-2 at the Packers 20, safety Dallin Leavitt took the snap as the up-back and tried to run for the first down. Davis stopped him for no gain, and Miami turned the good field position into a field goal for a 20-10 lead with 4:18 left in the first half.
· Dolphins outside linebacker Trey Flowers (Columbia) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Rudy Ford (New Hope, Auburn) started at safety for the Packers. Ford made one tackle.
· Tyreek Hill (West Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Dolphins. Hill had four receptions for 103 yards. Hill hauled in a long pass for a 52-yard gain to the Green Bay 1-yard line, and Miami scored on the next snap to take a 17-10 lead with 10:52 left in the first half. Hill has six 100-yard games in 2022 and 25 in his career.
· Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, (Hewitt-Trussville, Auburn) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Dolphins running back LaMical Perine (Theodore) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Jarran Reed (Alabama) started at defensive end for the Packers. Reed made six tackles, recorded one sack, had one tackle for loss and registered two quarterback hits. Reed caused Miami running back Raheem Mostert to fumble and recovered the football at the Miami 49-yard line with 1:55 left in the first half. Green Bay kicked a field goal with two seconds left in the first half to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 20-13.
· Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) started at quarterback for the Dolphins. Tagovailoa completed 16-of-25 passes for 310 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Tagovailoa hooked up with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle on an 84-yard touchdown connection that was the longest completion of the quarterback’s career. But Tagovailoa also was intercepted three times in the fourth quarter.
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· Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Dolphins. Waddle caught five passes for 143 yards and one touchdown. Miami went ahead 10-3 with 9:08 left in the first quarter when Waddle caught a pass crossing the middle of the field and turned it into an 84-yard touchdown, which is the longest reception of his career. Waddle has five 100-yard games this season and seven in his career.
Green Bay scored the game’s final 16 points to join the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions as NFC teams with 7-8 records trying to overtake the 7-7-1 Washington Commanders, who occupy the final wild-card spot in the conference’s postseason field. Miami dropped to 8-7, missing an opportunity to turn a one-game lead into a two-game lead over three teams that dropped to 7-8 with losses on Saturday. The Dolphins still occupy the final wild-card slot in the AFC postseason field.
On New Year’s Day, the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings and the Dolphins visit the New England Patriots, one of the AFC’s four 7-8 teams.
Los Angeles Rams 51, Denver Broncos 14
· Broncos linebacker Christopher Allen (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Rams offensive lineman Chandler Brewer (Florence) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Kareem Jackson (Alabama) started at strong safety for the Broncos. Jackson made three tackles.
· Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Broncos. Jeudy caught six passes for 117 yards. Jeudy had his second 100-yard game of 2022 and the first since the season-opener. Jeudy has four 100-yard receiving games in his career.
· Rams defensive end A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) started at left cornerback for the Broncos. Surtain made two tackles.
· Broncos punter Corliss Waitman (South Alabama) punted twice in the game – a 44-yarder that resulted in a fair catch at the Los Angeles 10-yard line and a 56-yarder that was returned 12 yards to the Los Angeles 40.
· Broncos wide receiver Montrell Washington (Samford) had a 29-yard kickoff return.
Last season’s Super Bowl winner, Los Angeles, improved to 5-10 as Cam Akers ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns. Denver dropped to 4-11.
On New Year’s Day, the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers square off in the stadium that they share and the Broncos visit the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19, Arizona Cardinals 16 (OT)
· Buccaneers inside linebacker K.J. Britt (Oxford, Auburn) made one tackle on special teams.
· Carlton Davis (Auburn) started at cornerback for the Buccaneers. Davis made four tackles, recorded a tackle for loss and broke up a pass.
· Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (Auburn) was designated as a game-day inactive. A toe injury sidelined Dean for a second straight game.
· Cardinals center Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Julio Jones (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Buccaneers. Jones caught a 5-yard pass.
· Cardinals cornerback Christian Matthew (Samford) made three tackles.
· Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Central-Phenix City) started at nose tackle for the Buccaneers. Nunez-Roches made two tackles.
· Cardinals offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons (Selma) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Buccaneers safety Nolan Turner (Vestavia Hills) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
Tampa Bay scored the final 13 points on Sunday night to keep a one-game lead over the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints in the AFC South. The Panthers and Saints went to 6-9 with victories on Saturday. Arizona fell to 4-11 with its fifth consecutive loss.
On New Year’s Day, the Buccaneers host Carolina and the Cardinals visit the Atlanta Falcons.
Week 16 of the NFL’s 2022 season concludes on Monday, when the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts square off at 7:15 p.m. CST at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the game.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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