Packers-Ravens: What we leanred

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."

What the Packers said
"The way the defense played and winning on the road, especially in a hostile environment like here in Baltimore, it's big. Unfortunately, we lost a couple guys. We hope it's not as bad as it looks." -- Wide receiver Jordy Nelson contrasting the highs of Green Bay's win coupled with injuries to fellow pass catchers James Jones and Randall Cobb.

What the Ravens said
"We had a couple of miscues today, but for the most part the pass protection was pretty good. ... We just couldn't get anything going and you can't expect to play that badly for that long and win a game." -- Quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked five times by the Packers.

What we learned about the Packers
1. From an attention-getting standpoint, the Packers' defense often plays a supporting role to the Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Green Bay entered Week 6 fifth in run defense. Don't expect that ranking to rise after assertive linebacker A.J. Hawk and the Packers held Baltimore to 47 ground yards. Without top pass rusher Clay Matthews, the Packers still sacked Joe Flacco five times while holding Baltimore scoreless in the first half thanks to a goal line stand. "If we only give up 17 points, we should win, "Rodgers said. "If we keep playing defense like that, we're going to be tough to beat."
2. The wide receiver corps could be in next-man-up mode depending on the severity of injuries suffered by James Jones, who limped off the field in the first quarter, and Randall Cobb (knee). Aaron Rodgers still had Jordy Nelson, who scored the game's first touchdown on a 64-yard reception and caught four passes for 113 yards. Backup Jarrett Boykin's one reception went for 43 yards, setting up Mason Crosby's third field goal. Of course, the Packers also have tight end Jermichael Finley, who helped close out the game with a 52-yard reception. "We have enough athletic tight ends to make up for the (injuries)," Nelson said. "We ended up running the same plays with a different personnel group."

What we learned about the Ravens
1. Sometimes, it's just not your day. Considering the Ravens entered the matchup ranked sixth in run defense (89.8 ypg), few outside of Wisconsin imagined the Packers would run effectively and do so throughout the game. Eddie Lacy blasted Baltimore for 47 yards on the opening drive and finished with 120 yards on 23 carries. Besides the rookie's rugged ways, the Ravens also had to account for Aaron Rodgers and the passing game, providing Green Bay a combination few most opponents offer. "Just the mix up between that run and pass game," Ravens safety James Ihedigbo said of Baltimore's struggles stopping Lacy. We'll see what lessons were learned in Week 7 when Baltimore faces Pittsburgh's offense led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le'veon Bell.
2. For the first time since the season opener, Joe Flacco had his top four wide receiver options on the field. Not that it helped much of the game against Green Bay's stingy defense, but Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones made significant plays during the failed rally. Brown's 59-yard catch-and-run led to Baltimore's first points and Jones scored the Ravens first touchdown on an 11-yard reception. Tandon Doss led the Ravens with 99 yards on four receptions while Torrey Smith, easily Baltimore's top threat on the season, had his first statistical clunker with one catch for 12 yards. That quartet won't rank as the league's best, but giving Flacco deeper options and Smith more help will help the scuffling offense going forward.

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