The Green Bay Packers (3-2) engaged the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens (3-3) in a defensive duel Sunday, and came out the other side with a 19-17 win thanks to a valiant performance from a beat up defense and an offense that stalled at times but did just enough.
It was over when…
…Jermichael Finley and Eddie Lacy each made huge plays on Green Bay's final drive to keep the football away from the Ravens and protect a two-point lead. Finley hauled in a catch over the middle for 52 yards on third-and-3, and Lacy sealed the deal when he found four yards off left tackle on third-and-2.
- The inside linebackers: This game was won with defense, and A.J. Hawk and Jamari Lattimore set the tone early and often for the Packers' patched up unit. Hawk established a new career high with three sacks, helping to replace the production of Clay Matthews. Lattimore was a ball of energy in place of Brad Jones, and a big reason for Baltimore averaging just 2.1 yards per carry Sunday.
- Eddie Lacy: The Packers rookie running back started with a bang and ended with a hammer swing. His 47 rushing yards on two opening-series carries helped set up a field goal, and 44 of his 120 total yards came in the fourth quarter. He now has 219 rushing yards in the last two games. He's the real deal. And so is the Packers running game.
- Dom Capers: Save for one inexcusable mistake from Jerron McMillian on fourth-and-forever, the Packers defense throttled a Ravens team that was starting to turn things around in previous weeks. Five sacks, 47 rushing yards allowed and zero first half points were obvious highlights. Baltimore was also 2-for-14 on third down. Capers called a great game with a few of his most impactful pieces missing.
The Packers ran 65 plays and tallied 438 yards, their third highest total of the season...For the fourth straight game, Green Bay rushed for more than 139 yards and had an individual rusher have 99 or more (Lacy, 120)...The Packers were 6-of-17 on third down and 0-for-4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone...Nick Perry had a sack and a forced fumble for the second straight game. Overall, Green Bay had 10 tackles for losses...Micah Hyde returned five punts for 68 yards, including a 23-yarder. His average was 13.6...Mason Crosby snapped his streak of 14 straight makes with a first half miss. He ended his day making four of five attempts, and he has now made nine kicks over the last two games...Jarrett Boykin caught just one of his six targets, but the lone reception went for 44 yards, with all 44 coming after the catch...All four of Baltimore's leading receivers—Tandon Doss, Dallas Clark, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones—finished with averages above 20.0 yards per catch. Torrey Smith, who came into the game averaging over 100 yards a game and 20.6 per catch, had just one reception for 12 yards...Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce carried 20 times for just 43 yards...The Packers had three passing plays over 40 yards...Baltimore averaged over 11 yards per third down.
– The Packers are struggling to score of late because of struggles in two important areas: third down and in the red zone. The playcalling is still too predictable on third down, and there's been a pile of mistakes made inside the opponent's 20-yard-line lately. Green Bay failed on 11 third downs and didn't score a touchdown in the red zone Sunday.
– There's no longer any question that the 2013 Packers are a good running team and a really good run-stopping team. Both were on display against the Ravens. Green Bay again ran over 30 times and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. On defense, the Packers held Baltimore to two yards or less on its first 10 runs and 15 of the 22 total. The Packers are dominating the trenches.
– Love the set up of Jordy Nelson's 64-yard touchdown in the second half. Mike McCarthy ran Lacy for five yards on the drive's first first down, and then unleashed playaction on the very next first down. Nelson was wide open because the safety playing the deep half was fooled. Expect the shot plays to increase as defenses continue respecting the Packers run game more and more.
– The Packers made a goal line stand in the first half and then held Baltimore to a field goal on a first-and-goal situation in the third quarter. Both were obviously huge in the final outcome. However, you won't see a worse two-play stretch than McMillian's late in the fourth. He fell down while playing the deep half on fourth-and-21 and then allowed grandpa tight end Dallas Clark to get behind him for a score. McMillian has been disappointing through five games.
– The Packers will welcome the Cleveland Browns to Lambeau Field in Week 7. This is an improved Browns team, but also one that lost by two touchdowns at home to Detroit Sunday. Not a cakewalk, but a game the Packers will be expected to win.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.