BALTIMORE—The hiccup toward the end on fourth-and-21 almost ruined the day, but don’t let the way the Packers defense performed on Sunday get lost in one momentary lapse.
Without star linebacker and pass rusher
A rugged, run-first team, Baltimore simply couldn’t run the ball, gaining just 47 yards on 22 carries, a paltry 2.1-yard average. Running back Ray Rice had just 18 yards through three periods before getting loose for his longest run of the day, an 11-yarder early in the fourth.
The stout run defense made a monumental goal-line stand in the second quarter that kept the Packers ahead, 3-0.
Rice tried three straight runs from the 4-yard line and in, reaching only the 1. The Ravens then eschewed the chip-shot field goal and went for it, only to have Bernard Pierce stuffed short of the end zone.
“We were tired and worn out, but we pride ourselves on keeping rushing touchdowns out of the end zone, and we were fortunate to come away from that,” lineman
It was as big a statement as the Packers could make about their defense with two starters in their front seven – Matthews and inside linebacker
The defense did it again in the third quarter, stopping the Ravens after it was first-and-goal at the 6. That time, Baltimore didn’t even try to run, but three passes gained just one yard and the Ravens settled for three with 4:34 left in the third quarter, their first points of the game.
The Packers’ dominance was impressive. Not including five sacks of Ravens QB Joe Flacco, Green Bay’s defense made six tackles behind the line of scrimmage and five others for no gain. That’s 16 plays of zero or negative yards, not counting incomplete passes. Jones’ replacement,
Other highlights included forcing eight three-and-outs, holding speedy playmaker Torrey Smith to one reception for 12 yards and allowing the Ravens to convert only two of 14 third-down chances.
“We’re tough, we’re tough,” Pickett said. “I think we’re real tough. We’re tough physically and mentally.”
It only got shaky in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens got their first touchdown on a pass to Jacoby Jones to get within 16-10.
After the Packers added a field goal to restore a two-score lead, Hawk’s third sack helped force a fourth-and-21 from Baltimore’s 19-yard line. But safety
Players admitted the offense bailed them out with the clock-killing drive to seal the game, which was the missing piece in a similar though higher-scoring game three weeks ago in Cincinnati.
“That’s why it’s the ultimate team sport,” Raji said. “They got us out of the hole.”
But the defense also deserves credit for how it played the bulk of the game, particularly without Matthews. The finish is all that’s left to master.
“We’re definitely not a great defense yet but we’re trying to get there,” Hawk said. “You can’t call yourself great until you’re holding teams consistently under 13, 14 points, I think.
“We played pretty well today, but it’s a long season. We’re only 3-2.”
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