The Green Bay Packers won the battle but they might have lost the war on Sunday at Baltimore.
On third-and-19 late in the first half, star receiver Randall Cobb caught a pass but got tackled right on the knee by rookie safety Matt Elam. Cobb writhed in pain before being taken to the locker room on a cart.
Still, the Packers won this game 19-17 in the fashion they might have to win games for the foreseeable future if Cobb is out indefinitely: defense and big plays.
To say the defense — even without Clay Matthews — was dominant for the first three quarters would almost be an understatement. At one point in the third quarter, the Ravens had more penalties (five) than first downs (four).
With a 9-3 lead late in the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers went play action and hit Jordy Nelson, who had somehow gotten behind the defense, for a 64-yard touchdown. Nelson was the last man standing from the Packers’ “Big Three” receiver corps after James Jones was lost to a knee injury on their second series.
Green Bay appeared to have the game in hand when Mason Crosby kicked his fourth field goal, making it 19-10 with 4:17 remaining. However, on fourth-and-21, Joe Flacco hit Tandon Doss for 63 yards when safety Jerron McMillian inexplicably fell in coverage. On the next play, veteran tight end Dallas Clark made a one-handed catch against McMillian for an 18-yard touchdown with 2:04 remaining.
Suddenly, the Packers looked like they were in trouble as they lined up at the 20-yard line. The Ravens had the two-minute warning and three timeouts to get a chance to kick a winning field goal. Instead, on third-and-3, Rodgers hit tight end Jermichael Finley for a catch-and-run of 51 yards against Elam. Finley foolishly ran out of bounds, however, which gave the Ravens a chance to get the ball, since they still had two timeouts. But on third-and-3 with 1:32 remaining, Eddie Lacy ran around left end for the game-clinching first down.
"We knew this was going to be a clash of two heavyweights getting after it and that’s what you got today, and we were fortunate to come out on top," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Clearly, one of the best — you hate to say the best — but clearly one of the best regular-season games I’ve been a part of. Obviously, I can say that because I’m standing up here at the victory podium, but that was a fun (game), that was a great game."
Green Bay improved to 3-2 by snapping a four-game losing streak. Baltimore fell to 3-3. Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens were 10-0 at home against NFC opponents and were 35-7 overall.
McCarthy had no information on the injuries to Cobb and Jones, only hoping that they'd get good news. Jones watched the game from the sideline while Cobb was driven back to the sideline in the second half, where he watched with crutches.
Flacco threw for 342 yards but Torrey Smith, who was the only receiver with 85 yards in each of the first five weeks, was limited to one catch for 12 yards. Flacco was sacked five times, including three by A.J. Hawk. Nick Perry also had a sack — a sack-strip at the end of the first half to set up a last-play field goal that made it 6-0 at halftime.
The Ravens were just 2-of-14 on third down.
Lacy rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries, including a 37-yard dash on the opening series to help stake the Packers to a 3-0 lead. Rodgers completed just 17-of-32 passes but threw for 315 yards.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.