Packers hit rock bottom in Baltimore

Despite committing multiple turnovers, the Green Bay Packers have never been blown out of any games this season … except on Monday night. The Ravens, behind a suddenly revived Kyle Boller took control of the game early and embarrassed the Packers 48-3 before a national television audience at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

The 45-point setback was Green Bay's largest margin of defeat since its 61-7 setback in Week 15 of 1980 to the Chicago Bears, whom the Packers play on Christmas Day at Lambeau Field. The Packers again had five turnovers, equalling their season high set Oct. 30 in a 21-7 loss against Cincinnati and Nov. 27 in a 19-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"That's not the type of performance we are accustomed to," said Packers coach Mike Sherman.

The Packers, who finished 1-7 on the road this season, fell to 3-11 while Baltimore improved to 5-9, setting a franchise record for most points scored in a game. A record crowd of 70,604 looked on, then left early on the chilly 26-degree evening in Baltimore.

Brett Favre, whom some feel may have played in his last Monday Night Football game, struggled for the fourth straight game. He threw two interceptions, matching his single-season high of 24 that he set in 1993. The Ravens could have had a number of other interceptions, but dropped the errant or deflected passes. Safety Ed Reed dropped at least four potential interceptions. Favre has thrown two interceptions in four of his last five games.

"The meetings, the walk-through we had today at noon, everything went as planned," said Sherman. "I had no inclination we would play this poorly."

Favre completed just 14 of 29 passes for 144 yards before giving way to rookie Aaron Rodgers at the end of the third quarter.

Defensive end/linebacker Adalius Thomas added insult to injury by scooping up Rodgers second fumble of the fourth quarter and returning it 35 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring.

The Ravens, 31st in points scored in the NFL, ripped apart the Packers defense in the first half. Baltimore took control early and never let up on the hapless Packers. The Ravens used scoring drives of 75, 96 and 63 yards to take a commanding 24-3 lead. The Packers committed six penalties for 45 yards, Brett Favre forced two deep throws that resulted in interceptions, and Green Bay's defense, stingy for most of the season, broke down left and right.

Boller, who had thrown just five touchdowns entering the game and had a 63.0 passer rating, had a 142.6 rating in the first half after completing 14 of 18 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens, who averaged just 278.8 yards of offense per game through 13 games, had 252 total yards in the first half.

"This is a tough loss for us," said Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman. "All season we haven't given into the adversity. Tonight we gave in to it."

Boller was 18 of 23 for 223 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, who finished with a season-high 110 yards receiving on nine catches, early in the third quarter. Boller finished with a career-high 136.8 passer rating, completing 19 of 27 passes for 253 yards.

"(Heap) certainly had a career day and we contributed to that as well," Sherman said.

While Boller and Heap torched the Packers through the air, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis rushed 22 times for 105 yards and a a touchdown.

Baltimore pretty much put the game away in the second quarter with a 16-play, 96-yard drive that consumed more than 8 minutes. It was highlighted by wide receiver Randy Hymes' one-handed, leaping catch in the end zone. The 6-foot-3 Hymes easily had the advantage over 5-10 Ahmad Carroll to make his second touchdown catch of the season.

Thirty-eight-year-old defensive back Deion Sanders got his second interception of the season by catching an overthrown deep pass by the 36-year-old Favre at the Ravens 8. Sanders returned the interception 24 yards, and Boller moved the Ravens to Green Bay's 5 to set up Matt Stover's 23-yard field goal to make it 24-3.

Boller and the Ravens came out firing at the start of the second half and took a 31-3 lead on his 27-yard pass to Heap. Boller completed all four of his passes in the drive for 51 yards.

Green Bay has struggled on special teams in general this season, though, the lone bright spot has been its punt coverage unit, which entered the game ranked fourth in the league. But the Packers allowed high-octane B.J. Sams, the league's second-leading punt returner, to break loose for a 42-yard runback to Green Bay's 18 early in the first quarter. Boller's two-yard touchdown pass to Heap gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead.

Baltimore's sixth-ranked defense forced the Packers into their second straight three-and-out, then rambled 75 yards and took a 14-0 lead on wide receiver Mark Clayton's 11-yard touchdown run. Clayton, who had 14 catches for 191 yards in the previous two games, lined up in the shotgun formation at quarterback on the play, then broke around the right end and scored easily.

Ahmad Carroll's 57-yard kickoff return combined with Stover's illegal block gave the Packers the ball at Baltimore's 15. But the Packers were unable to capitalize and had to settle for Ryan Longwell's 27-yard field goal, closing the Packers to 14-3 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

Across the board, the punt return, not tackling well, not executing well," Sherman said. "There wasn't anything we did well with consistency."

We've got to go out and play next week, man," said Packers linebacker Nick Barnett. "We've got nothing to lose, but win."


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