The Green Bay Packers looked to lock up their third straight NFC North title with a victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The team also aimed to keep pace for the number one seed in the NFC and a first round bye. Former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson was ruled out before kickoff with an ankle injury. This forced the Ravens to turn to backup Tyler Huntley. The former undrafted free agent posed a unique challenge to Joe Barry’s group, who was down defensive lineman Kenny Clark. Using a monster first half from tight end Mark Andrews, they headed into the locker room tied at 14.
Able to pull away in the second half, touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers to Aaron Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling put Green Bay up 11 early in the fourth quarter. Extending their lead to 14 after forcing a turnover on downs on defense, John Harbaugh’s team battled back late. They found the end zone on back-to-back drives. For the second time in three games, the longtime head coach looked to go for two to give his group the lead. Unable to convert on their opportunity, Baltimore dropped its third straight game and sent Matt Lafleur and company to a league-best 11-3. In one of the marquee matchups of the day on Sunday, here are three takeaways from the Packers vs Ravens.
3. Hard to Stop
Huntley made just the second start of his career in week 15. The 23 year old hade his way with Green Bay’s defense. Killing them with both his arm and legs, he completed 28 of 40 throws for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Furthermore, he also added 73 yards on the ground on 13 carries, while finding the end zone two more times. Dominating the time of possession and yardage battle early on, the University of Utah alumn helped outgain the Packers 120-35 in the first quarter while leading two long-scoring drives in the opening 30 minutes.
Making multiple key third-down conversions, the Packer’s edge rushers struggled to keep contain throughout the majority of the afternoon. Ultimately coming up short after failing to convert the go-ahead two-point conversion, the former first-team All-Pac 12 member was on time and in rhythm all game long, giving Barry and his group all they could handle.
2. Rodger’s Stays Hot
Continuing his dominant stretch of play of late, Rodgers was able to have his way with Wink Martindale’s defense. Overcoming a three and out on the contest’s opening possession, the 38-year-old led touchdown drives on four of their next five possessions. Putting pressure on Baltimore after heading into the half all knotted up, he found Jones on a nine-yard touchdown strike to cap off an 80-yard march. Making history his next time out on the field, the reigning MVP tied longtime Packer’s quarterback Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes in franchise history.
He found Valdes-Scantling on a 2nd and 10 from the opponent’s 11 yard line for the 442nd touchdown pass of his legendary career. This was ultimately too much for the Ravens to overcome. Rodgers completed 23 of his 31 passes while finding eight different targets throughout the game. As a result of this, the California native finished with a passer rating of 132.2
1. Aggressiveness Costs Joh Harbaugh Again
Harbaugh’s aggressiveness is the talk of the NFL landscape. He cost his team for the second time in three weeks. This was after choosing to go for it down ten on his own 29 yard line with 12:01 remaining. The Ravens were faced with a fourth and one. Baltimore failed to convert and gave the ball back to Green Bay with a short field. Able to tack on three more points, that would ultimately be the deciding score in the game.
This is because the group once again failed to convert a go-ahead two-point conversion. The longtime head coach choose to leave his all-pro kicker on the sidelines and play for the victory. Consequently, safety Darnell Savage knocked away the ball from Andrews on the go ahead two point conversion. A puzzling decision with 42 seconds remaining in extra time and the struggles of Mason Crosby and the Packer’s field goal unit this season, the Ravens now find themselves on the outside of the AFC playoff picture.
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