Defense, Rodgers spark Packers over Ravens

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Green Bay's defense starred through three quarters against the Baltimore Ravens before the Packers' headlining quarterback finished the job.
Aaron Rodgers completed a 64-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and Mason Crosby kicked four field goals as the Packers defeated the Ravens 19-17 on Sunday.
The passing battle between Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterbacks Rodgers and Joe Flacco played second string to dominant defenses until the final 18 minutes. Playing much of the game without injured wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb, Rodgers completed 17 of 32 passes for 315 yards with one touchdown and interception.
"It's games like today that remind why you love this game so much," said a relieved Rodgers after directing Green Bay (3-2) to its first road victory on the season.
The Packers bookended their first half drives with field goals. Crosby kicked a 50-yarder midway through the third quarter and a 31-yarder with 4:17 remaining for a 19-10 lead over the Ravens (3-3).
Flacco finished 20 of 34 for 342 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. His 18-yard touchdown to Dallas Clark made the score 19-17 with 2:04 remaining.
Though armed with three timeouts and the two-minute winning, the Ravens would never touch the ball again. Rodgers countered with a 52-yard pass to Jermichael Finley and Lacy rushed for a time-winding first down.
On the short pass over the middle that turned into backbreaker for the Ravens, Rodgers knew exactly where he was going.
"I was about 99 percent going to Jermichael," the quarterback said.
Baltimore knew which player would control Green Bay's fate.
"We knew 12 was capable of making a play like that," said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, referring to Rodgers' jersey number. "They put it on his shoulders to win the game."
Which receivers Rodgers will have for the next game is the question. James Jones limped off the field in the first quarter and did not return. Cobb exited in the second quarter after a hit to his knee by Baltimore safety Matt Elam following a reception, a tackle Rodgers deemed, "questionable."
Green Bay and Baltimore entered the matchup ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in rush defense. The Ravens showed no such form on the opening drive. Lacy ripped off 47 total yards on consecutive carries, setting up Crosby's 45-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The rookie tacked on 55 more yards in the second half.
"It was important for us to run the football because we didn't have our three-receiver set anymore," Rodgers said.
The Ravens' running game offered no help. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 43 yards on 20 carries. Green Bay also held Baltimore's leading receiver, Torrey Smith, to one reception.
"Defense carried us pretty much most of the day," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who had no immediate updates on the injured receivers. "Offensively, we had some adversity with the injuries. ... It was a fun game to play in I'm sure. It was a great game to coach in."
Baltimore's best first-half drive ended without points. After marching to the Green Bay 4-yard line midway through the second quarter, two carries put the ball on the 1. The next two attempts went nowhere as the Packers stuffed Bernard Pierce on fourth down before the crowd of 71, 319.
"You've got a high percentage opportunity to make that fourth-and-1," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I like our chances there."
Green Bay moved into field goal range inside the final minute of the first half, but Crosby missed a 44-yard kick with 20 seconds remaining.
With Baltimore choosing to pass rather than run out the clock, linebacker Nick Perry hit Flacco on second down, causing a fumble. Datone Jones returned the recovery to the Ravens' 13 with two seconds left. Crosby booted the 31-yarder for a 6-0 lead.
NOTES: Marlon Brown's 59-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter set up Justin Tucker's lone field goal. ... Baltimore twice forced a fumble while sacking Rodgers. Green Bay recovered both. ... Before his miss, Crosby had made 14 consecutive field goals, which was the longest active streak in the NFL. ... The Ravens had won 13 straight home games over NFC teams dating back to 2006. ... Green Bay hosts Cleveland in Week 7 while Baltimore plays at division rival Pittsburgh.

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