After struggling early this season, the Ravens' defense has come on strong since the bye week. In the past five games, the Ravens have not allowed more than 17 points, holding those teams to an average of 11.6 points per game.
Baltimore, though, has yet to shut down and beat a top-notch quarterback this season. The Ravens have beaten quarterbacks such as Kansas City's Brodie Croyle, Cleveland's Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn and Denver's Kyle Orton. Baltimore did win against San Diego's Philip Rivers, but he threw for more than 400 yards.
The Ravens' latest win was a 20-17 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The Ravens' defense had little trouble against third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon, who had to start after Ben Roethlisberger (head) and Charlie Batch (wrist) were sidelined.
The game turned on a play by little-used second-round pick Paul Kruger, who intercepted Dixon and returned his first career pick 26 yards to the Steelers 28-yard line.
Four runs by Ray Rice and a kneel down by Flacco moved the Ravens 17 yards closer against the NFL's top-ranked run defense and set up the game-winning kick with 6:42 left in overtime.
The Ravens' matchup against Green Bay will be a true measure of their pass rush. The Packers have allowed Rodgers to be sacked a career-high 44 times this season. But Baltimore has not recorded a sack in the past two games. That's a total of 57 pass attempts without the Ravens sacking a quarterback.
The surprising part of the defense's turnaround has been the injuries. The Ravens have been able to limit offenses without linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) and cornerback Fabian Washington (knee). Suggs could return in the next couple of weeks, and Washington is done for the season.
Cornerback Lardarius Webb, a rookie third-round pick out of Nicholls State, is the replacement for Fabian Washington, who is out for the season. In his first start, Webb had a strong outing against Pittsburgh, breaking up a team-high three passes. He didn't show any hesitation for a rookie and aggressively broke on passes. His only mistake was dropping an interception in the fourth quarter with no one between him and the end zone.
By the numbers
129 — Receiving yards by wide receiver Mark Clayton, who had been nonexistent for most of the season. At a time when Joe Flacco had locked into throwing at wide receiver Derrick Mason and running back Ray Rice, Clayton surfaced to record season highs in catches (seven) and receiving yards (129). It was important for the Ravens to show they have a supporting cast. In his past three games, Clayton had totaled two catches for 25 yards. With his game against Pittsburgh, defenses have to be aware of Clayton now.
— LB Terrell Suggs could be listed as questionable with a knee sprain but he is not expected to play against Green Bay. The Ravens have used Trevor Pryce, Jameel McClain and Paul Kruger to fill in for Suggs.
— CB Lardarius Webb replaced injured Fabian Washington and broke up a team-best three passes.
— QB Joe Flacco limped throughout the second half and overtime after aggravating an ankle injury. He didn't miss any time.
— FB Le'Ron McClain sustained an abdominal strain in the third quarter and did not return. He said that he would play against Green Bay.
— DE-LB Paul Kruger made his first career interception, which set up the game-winning kick in overtime. It's only the fourth time this season that Kruger has been active.
— G Chris Chester has been replaced as the team's starting right guard by Marshal Yanda. Chester had started the first 10 games of the season.