GREEN BAY (AP) — Aaron Rodgers, despite an undermanned cast, vs. Brandon Weeden was no contest.
Rodgers threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns, Eddie Lacy ran for another score, and the Packers grinded out a 31-13 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns.
Lacy finished with 82 yards, while tight end Jermichael Finley had a 10-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter before leaving with a neck injury.
Green Bay (4-2) won its third straight and took over first place in the NFC North.
Rodgers finished 25 for 36 in methodically carving up Cleveland (3-4) despite already being without two of his top targets in injured receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb.
Then Finley left with about 10 minutes to go with a neck injury after a late hit by Brown safety Tashaun Gipson on a 10-yard gain. He was carted off the field, and the team later said Finley had movement and feeling in his extremities.
The defense took care of the rest against a struggling Weeden, who finished 17 for 42 for 149 yards. The Browns’ Jordan Cameron caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11 with 6:09 left.
Cleveland thought it caught a huge break after recovering an onside kick, only for the play to be erased by an offside penalty.
The Packers got the ball back, and Rodgers found Jarrett Boykin for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-13. Boykin, making his first start at receiver with Jones and Cobb out, finished with eight catches for 103 yards.
The Browns did have two nice fourth-quarter kickoff returns that helped set up drives into Green Bay territory, including an 80-yarder by Travis Benjamin that led to Cameron’s score.
Otherwise, bad luck lingered over the Browns like the dark clouds that drenched Lambeau Field with a steady shower most of the game.
On an earlier drive, a fourth-down pass from the 31 to Josh Gordon was broken up after Davon House reached up to knock the ball loose at the last second. House also had the first-quarter interception of Weeden.
Still, Green Bay penalties kept the Browns in the game well into the second half. Tramon Williams’ sack of Weeden on a corner blitz was negated by 15-yard face mask penalty on A.J. Hawk. But Cleveland settled for a 44-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff to make it 17-6.
Penalties had bogged down the Packers after jumping out to a 14-point halftime lead. Good thing they got off to such a hot start.
Rodgers connected with Finley for a 7-0 lead after the athletic, 6-foot-5 tight end spun around one defender, then caromed off two others like a pinball into the end zone. A Lambeau leap was next, of course.
Lacy followed on the next drive with a 1-yard score to give Green Bay a two-touchdown lead.
It looked as if the Packers were pulling away for an easy victory, especially with Cleveland receivers dropping passes in the first half on a dreary evening.
The Browns couldn’t muster anything on the ground, either, against the Packers’ tough run defense. Willis McGahee had 11 carries for 39 yards.
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