Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' down-to-the-wire victory over Ravens

Timely stops on defense, strong responses by offense paved way for Green Bay

The Packers' defense reacts to Baltimore's unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-30 victory over the Ravens.

The Packers clinched their third straight NFC North title by hanging on for a 31-30 victory over the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday.

Here are five takeaways from the win:

1. Almost nobody was surprised the Ravens went for two at the end of the game.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he and the coaches had talked about it in advance. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were doing the same thing on the sideline.

The fateful two-point conversion came with 42 seconds left after QB Tyler Huntley scrambled up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown, the Ravens' second score in the last five minutes of the game.

"They play to win," safety Adrian Amos said. "That's how they play. That's how they operate. They go for it. We just had to make a stop."

Equally unsurprising was that the Ravens tried to get the ball to tight end Mark Andrews. He'd had his way most of the game, catching 10 passes for 136 yards and two TDs.

But with the game on the line, as Huntley rolled right and Andrews broke his route off near the pylon with cornerback Eric Stokes in coverage, safety Darnell Savage bolted over to get a fingertip on the pass, and it deflected off Stokes' shoulder, incomplete.

Running back AJ Dillon recovered the ensuing onside kick, and the Packers had escaped, holding off Baltimore's valiant comeback.

"Ultimately our defense made the play when they had to make it," LaFleur said.

2. The defense had two other huge stops earlier, before the Ravens rallied.

On the opening drive of the game, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell sacked Huntley when Baltimore went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, turning away a 14-play drive that consumed 7:22 to start the contest.

Then, with the Ravens trailing 28-17 early in the fourth quarter, they went for it again on fourth-and-6 from their own 29, and good pressure from the four-man rush led to an incomplete pass.

"They just didn't feel like they could stop us," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Baltimore's aggressive mindset.

He was right, in that the Packers had scored touchdowns on four of their previous five possessions, turning around an early 14-7 deficit. The only offensive failure in that stretch was a two-minute drive at the end of the first half.

But the Ravens did prevent the Packers from putting the game away, forcing a field goal from a goal-to-go situation after the turnover on downs. Rodgers barely overthrew receiver Allen Lazard in the back of the end zone on third down, one of few misses in an impressive performance (23-of-31, 268 yards, three TDs, 132.2 passer rating).


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3. Had Rodgers completed that last TD toss to make it a three-score game, he also would have broken Brett Favre's franchise record for touchdown passes.

Instead, Rodgers had to settle for a tie with Favre for now at 442. The tying one came on a slant pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught five passes for 98 yards on a day the Ravens focused their coverages on Adams, who still caught six passes for 44 yards and a score.

Since the Packers got the win anyway, Rodgers is excited about the opportunity to break Favre's record in front of the home crowd on Christmas Day. He was most proud in this game of the offense's ability to answer the bell numerous times when it had to.

The Packers tied the game twice after the Ravens took leads of 7-0 and 14-7. Then Green Bay started the second half with a 13-play, 80-yard TD drive, capped by a 9-yard pass to running back Aaron Jones, that took 7:20 off the clock and put the Packers in the lead – as it turned out, for good.

"I know they were beat up and had some COVID issues on defense, but they still have a really good scheme and a really good front," Rodgers said. "To score 31 on the road, I thought it was good football by us to respond the way we did."

4. The defensive shortcomings down the stretch were mostly due to not containing Huntley in the pocket.

As Huntley, filling in for the injured Lamar Jackson, directed the two TD drives down the stretch to give the Ravens a chance to steal the game, he scrambled six times for 45 yards and ran for both of the scores himself.

He had run for only 28 yards until those last two possessions, but he made the Packers pay every time they gave him running room late in the game.

"I've got to go back and look at it, but certainly we were not good enough," LaFleur said. "Huntley was able to get outside and create a lot of off-schedule plays and move the sticks with his legs.

"Certainly any time we lose a guy like Kenny (Clark), I think that has an impact. But ultimately it comes down to doing your responsibility and guys got to own that."

Once again, the special teams didn't help much, until securing the final onside kick. The Packers gave the Ravens a free 15 yards on an early punt by running over the returner before the ball arrived. A delay-of-game penalty before the Packers' last punt also cost 5 yards, while the Ravens returned one kickoff out near the 40 and the Packers let a pop-up kickoff bounce and roll around a while before recovering it.

The Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens faced off in America's Game of the Week on Dec. 19, 2021.

5. At 11-3, the Packers remain in command of the NFC.

Green Bay needs three more wins for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, plus the bye and home-field advantage that go along with it. If the Packers win out, it doesn't matter what anybody else does.

(Update: After post time, the Buccaneers lost to the Saints to fall to 10-4. Coupled with Arizona's loss earlier in the day at Detroit dropping the Cardinals to 10-4 as well, the Packers have a one-game lead on the other contenders.)

Wrapping up the division title is the first step, and it's one step at a time from here.

"That's where it starts. It starts with the North," Jones said. "Now we got bigger fish to fry."

Added Valdes-Scantling: "We've got to keep that rolling so we can have this whole thing run through Lambeau."


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