PLAY OF THE GAME
Aaron Rodgers delivered the play before the big play with his feet. On third-and-6, Eddie Lacy failed to block blitzing linebacker Arthur Brown. Rodgers sidestepped Brown and ran 12 yards for a first down to the 36. On first-and-10, coach Mike McCarthy dialed up one of his favorite shot plays from past seasons.
Rodgers faked the handoff to Lacy and did a half-roll to his right. Jordy Nelson didn't do anything special. He angled his route inside a bit and ran right past cornerback Lardarius Webb up the field. Meanwhile, tight end Jermichael Finley, who was lined up on the left side of the formation, ran a crossing route. It was Finley's route, not the fake to Lacy, that brought up the safety. Whatever the reason, Nelson was about 3 yards beyond Webb when he hauled in Rodgers' bomb around the 13-yard line.
"I was actually kind of tired coming back from the huddle after that scramble," Rodgers said. "Mike called in a great play. It's something that we'd worked on. We hadn't shown a bunch of that in a while. I kind of looked at Jordy as he was coming back to the huddle. He had just run a deep in route and I had just scrambled for a first down. I kind of looked at him, gave him a nod and he kind of nodded back like he was OK. He just kind of ran really far and I had a nice, clean throwing angle and I threw it as far as I could."
That gave Green Bay a 16-3 lead with 2:12 to play in the game, and it held off the Ravens for a vital victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Who would replace Clay Matthews' pass rush?
A.J. Hawk, naturally.
Hawk had 13.5 sacks in 88 career games. He had a pair of two-sacks games, including last year against Tennessee, but nothing more. Even going back to his senior season at Ohio State, when Hawk had 9.5 sacks, his best career game was two sacks.
On Sunday, Hawk had three sacks – matching his total from 2008 and 2012, and one off his career-high 3.5 sacks in 2006.
Hawk finished with a team-high 10 tackles, including five tackles for losses. To put Hawk's performance into context, there's this: Hawk had six tackles for losses in 2006, five in 2007, four in 2008, nine in 2009, four in 2010, four in 2011 and nine in 2012. In other words, Hawk's TFL total on Sunday was equal to or greater than his season totals of 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Led by Hawk, the Packers held the Ravens to just 47 rushing yards on 22 carries. For the season, Green Bay has held opponents to just 3.4 yards per carry and 391 rushing yards. Remember, this is a defense last season that allowed 323 rushing yards against San Francisco in the playoffs and games of 210 and 199 yards to Adrian Peterson.
Hawk is coming off arguably his best season in 2012 and has continued this season. He chalks it up to having kids – and a conversation about fatherhood with former teammate Brady Poppinga.
"He always said," Hawk recalled, "‘There's something about having those kids, man. Your hormones will kick in, and you'll have this protective hormone release, and you'll feel like you've got some man strength. You'll feel like you're a dad, you can do anything for those guys.' So I think that's carried over into every aspect of my life."
So much of the Packers' fate lies in the health of James Jones and Randall Cobb. The Packers got by on Sunday, thanks to Lacy's running, the bomb to Nelson and a key third-down completion to Jermichael Finley at the end of the game. But can the Packers win a game or games without Cobb and Jones? Would their championship aspirations go down the drain if it's the worst-case scenario for Cobb?
The only in-house candidate at receiver is undrafted rookie Myles White, who is on the practice squad. The Packers drafted two receivers in the seventh round, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey. Johnson was signed away from Green Bay's practice's practice squad by Cleveland this weekend and Dorsey is on injured reserve.
0: Interceptions by Green Bay's defense. Under McCarthy, the Packers are just 8-19 when they don't come up with an interception, though they've won with no picks in back-to-back games.
3: Number of running backs with 100-yard games this season, with Eddie Lacy joining the party with a 120-yard performance. Needing a first down to run out the clock, Lacy got the ball on three consecutive plays. He lost 1 yard on first down, gained 9 on second and picked up 4 on third down. "I'm very proud of Eddie," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought Eddie did an excellent job of staying patient, really driving his back foot and falling forward just to ice the game. Our offensive line wanted the ball at the end of the game and we gave it to ‘em and Eddie Lacy finished it." In his four games (including Week 2, when he sustained a concussion on his only carry), he's averaging 67.5 yards. If he can sustain that, he'd finish his 15-game rookie season with 1,013 yards.
5: Sacks of Joe Flacco, giving the Packers 14 in the last three games after just three in the first two. "We're dominating right now and I think we're stacking success right now," linebacker Nick Perry said. "Every week we look at now is another week to get better and improve ourselves. I think we're on an incline right now as a team, as a unit, defense, offense, I think we're going to prepare as much as we did last week this upcoming week. I think we have a lot to build from this game."
99: Lacy's yardage total last week. Lacy is the first Packers rookie running back since John Brockington in 1971 to have back-to-back games of 99 rushing yards. The Packers have had a rookie rush for at least 99 yards in three consecutive games for the first time since 1971, when Brockington did so from Weeks 7-9. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 103 yards in Week 3, Lacy for 99 in Week 5 and Lacy for 120 in Week 6.
140: Rushing yards by the Packers. They're on pace for 2,253 rushing yards for the season. That would be the fifth-best season in team history. The Packers haven't rushed for 2,000 yards since 2003, when they set a team record with 2,558 rushing yards, and that was their only 2,000-yard season since 1985.
141: Rushing yards, on average, the Packers had entering the game. That ranked fifth in the league.
315: Passing yards by Aaron Rodgers. In his last 22 regular-season road starts, he's topped 300 yards on 17 occasions.
438: Total yards by the Packers. Green Bay has gained at least 385 yards in its last eight regular-season games, establishing a franchise record.
0: Touchdowns on four trips into the Ravens' red zone. Since going 4-for-4 against San Francisco in Week 1, the Packers are just 5-for-16, including 0-for-6 in the last two games.
4: First downs allowed by the Packers on the Ravens' first 11 possessions.
9: Possessions, out of 14, in which Green Bay's defense didn't allow a first down.
14.3: Percent of third-down plays converted by Baltimore's offense (2-of-14). On nine of those plays, the Ravens faced third-and-10 or longer. Their only opportunity of less than third-and-5 was a third-and-goal from the 1, which the Packers stopped.
38: Yards on a punt return by the Ravens' Tandon Doss. In Green Bay's first four games, it had allowed just 17 yards total and a fourth-ranked 4.3-yard average.
47: Rushing yards allowed by the Packers. They're 16-3 under defensive coordinator Dom Capers when they hold the opponent to less than 75 yards. Speaking of records on defense, they're 55-9 under McCarthy when allowing 20 points or less.
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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.