Packers-Ravens Report Card

The grades are in from our NFL insiders, with the Packers using their usual recipe to fend off the Ravens on Monday night. Aaron Rodgers produced through the air and the Packers' run defense was typically strong.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus

Tight end Jermichael Finley's personal-best two touchdowns, including a pivotal 19-yard play early in the fourth quarter to give the Packers some breathing room with a 24-14 lead, helped the offense overcome an uncharacteristic three turnovers in the passing game. Finley returned to the game after suffering a knee bruise shortly after halftime and matched a career high with seven catches for 79 yards (both game highs). The first of two interceptions thrown by Aaron Rodgers, who was pick-less in the previous three games, was a bad deep ball to Greg Jennings. Normally sure-handed Donald Driver (8-yard touchdown in first half) turned the ball over twice on back-to-back plays in the third quarter, first fumbling on a hit by cornerback Chris Carr and then mishandling a low throw that deflected off his leg and into the hands of linebacker Jarret Johnson. Jennings (six catches, 77 yards) had a couple drops in the first half. Rodgers was only 26-of-40, but he managed to put up 263 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns on a subfreezing night. The offensive line continued to give him time to throw, as the only sack was given up by right guard Josh Sitton to defensive tackle Trevor Pryce. Rodgers, the league's top rushing quarterback, had a heady 23-yard scramble through an unoccupied middle of the field.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus

The Ravens' powerful front made running the football difficult for Green Bay, which produced an aggregate 94 yards (30 by Rodgers) and an average of only 3.5 yards per attempt. Featured back Ryan Grant was ineffective with 18 carries for 41 yards (2.3 average). An early fumble and turnover by Grant was overturned by replay because his knee had hit the ground before the football came out. Grant's longest run was just 8 yards, aided by left guard Daryn Colledge's clear-out of hefty nose tackle Haloti Ngata. Ahman Green returned to action after being sidelined two games by injury and had the fresh legs to contribute a couple good runs (long of 8 yards) as the Packers went into kill-the-clock mode in the fourth quarter.

PASS DEFENSE: B

Cornerback Tramon Williams redeemed himself for a dubious trio of pass-interference penalties, including two in the end zone defending Demetrius Williams, by gliding in front of the Ravens' Williams to pick off an ill-advised throw by Joe Flacco in the middle of the end zone to squelch a counterpunch by Baltimore after the Packers had just forged the 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Ravens' next play from scrimmage resulted in the fourth takeaway by the Green Bay defense, as linebacker A.J. Hawk refuted the charges that he's a liability in coverage by getting a jump to the inside of tight end Todd Heap on a downfield throw. The Packers had three interceptions of Flacco, whose bad heave on a flea-flicker in the first half was an easy snare by safety Nick Collins. Flacco was flustered into 15-of-36 accuracy for 137 yards and a passer rating of 27.2 that was just a tad warmer than the game-time temperature of 21. Blitzing rookie outside linebackers Clay Matthews (two) and Brad Jones (one) accounted for the three sacks of Flacco. Cornerback Charles Woodson's impact play in this game was drawing a pass-interference penalty on receiver Derrick Mason, whose push-off as he came back for an underthrown pass erased a 46-yard catch to the Green Bay 33 in the fourth quarter with the Packers' clinging to a 17-14 lead. Woodson held Mason to two catches for 13 yards. Nickel back Jarrett Bush was beat to the outside on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Kelley Washington that started the Ravens' second-half comeback.


Nick Barnett drops Ray Rice for a big loss. Jeffrey Phelps/AP

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus

Just as Ray Rice wasn't much of a factor in the passing game (three catches for 17 yards), the Packers more often than not put the clamps on the ultraback when he carried the football. The league's No. 2 all-purpose-yards producer mustered a total of 71 yards from scrimmage, only 54 on the ground in 14 carries. Rice's concluding average of 3.9 yards per rush was enhanced by runs of 17 and 21 yards in the second half after he had all of 11 yards in seven carries in the first half. Matthews' impactful night included a strip of Rice from behind for a turnover in the red zone in the Ravens' first possession of the game. Other than Hawk failing to wrap up Rice on his 17-yard run, the Packers were relentless in pursuit of and tackling him. Defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and rookie B.J. Raji overwhelmed left guard Ben Grubbs on separate plays to drop Rice and Willis McGahee, respectively, for losses. Linebacker Nick Barnett snuffed out a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage that resulted in a 7-yard loss for what officially was a run. The Ravens' rushing total of 66 yards included 16 yards by a scrambling Flacco, and McGahee finished with minus-4 yards in four carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus

The foibles and breakdowns continued to mount for the weak link in the Packers' late-season surge. Rookie offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith committed the cardinal sin of trying to advance the football after fielding a pooch kickoff and fumbled, though Green Bay retained possession. Under-fire Mason Crosby pushed a 38-yard field goal wide right at the outset of the fourth quarter, though holder Matt Flynn was at fault for not getting the ball down clean. After the Packers went ahead 24-14, the Ravens' Lardarius Webb returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to the Green Bay 26 — Spencer Havner and Crosby had missed tackles. Earlier in the game, Desmond Bishop was tardy in trying to down the football at the goal line on a nice placement punt by Jeremy Kapinos, who kicked well in the harsh conditions (long of 53). Jordy Nelson returned the game-opening kickoff 38 yards to start a drive that ended with a Crosby field goal.

COACHING: B-minus

The Packers are getting enough out of their top-rated defense as well as the offense to keep winning games in spite of what has become a broken record of horrendous special-teams play and droves of penalties. They almost set a franchise record with 175 penalty yards (11 infractions) on Monday, leapfrogging the Ravens for the league lead in penalty yards this season. At least Baltimore obliged, committing five pass-interference penalties that spoke to head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy's game plan to go on the attack against the Ravens' short-handed secondary, especially on the perimeter. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers dialed up the pressure on Flacco, mixing up a variety of blitzes, and also had his charges prepared to stop Rice in his tracks.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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