Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers already had his strategy mapped out for how to attack Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb before he lobbed a deep touchdown pass over his head to wide receiver Jordy Nelson on Sunday.
Rodgers sold a play-action fake to running back Eddie Lacy to get the Ravens to shift toward his left. Then, he adeptly rolled out to his right and delivered a 64-yard touchdown to a wide-open Nelson streaking past Webb down the middle.
"I had just scrambled on the previous play, and Jordy had just ran a deep route," Rodgers said. "We got back to the huddle. I nodded at him, and he nodded back at me. He just ran pretty far, I got him the ball and he scored."
It was a key moment during the third quarter of the Ravens' 19-17 loss at M&T Bank Stadium with Webb left alone in single coverage with no assistance over the top from rookie free safety Matt Elam. Elam was occupied by an underneath route by tight end Jermichael Finley.
"It was the perfect call," Nelson said. "Aaron made a great ball fake and sold it. My guy was playing me to the outside. I saw him hesitate and just blew by him to the post. Great call, great throw, great play."
The Ravens' inopportune defensive breakdown caused them to fall behind by 13 points.
Afterward, Webb said he wasn't exactly sure what happened.
"I'm supposed to have a little help," Webb said. "We got to go back to the drawing board."
It appeared initially that Nelson would run outside, but redirected his pattern inside to gain roughly five yards of separation.
"We had a coverage issue there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll go back and look at that and determine how we're going to cover that particular route in the future."
Until that play, the Ravens had largely contained Rodgers by sacking him three times and cornerback Jimmy Smith intercepted him once.
However, Rodgers finished strong as he connected with Finley for a 52-yard completion to beat a diving Elam late in the fourth quarter. That allowed Green Bay to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
"You can't let a quarterback like that make a play like that, that helped them win the game," rush linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "They put it on his shoulders to make a play to win the game, and he made the play. We just have to be better than that. It's not one player, it's the whole 11."
A 5-foot-10, 210-pound first-round pick, Elam never got the leverage he needed to disrupt the pass to Finley, an imposing 6-5, 247-pounder.
"He used his body and Aaron Rodgers threw a great ball and he made a great catch," Elam said. "I don't feel like it's a tough matchup for me. I just got to rely on my technique when it comes to bigger guys, so they can't push off me and use their size."
Rodgers finished 17-of-32 for 315 yards for an 84.8 quarterback rating after completing just 10-of-21 passes for 116 yards by halftime.
"We fought tooth and nail," strong safety James Ihedigbo said. "He has the ability to beat you with his arms and beat you with his legs. He's very athletic."
The Ravens never sacked Rodgers in the second half as his ability to escape the pass rush was a major factor.
"Aaron made some really good plays out of the pocket in the second half," Harbaugh said. "We had a lot of pressure on him. He's patient in there. Early, he held it and took some sacks. Later, he held it and found some openings."
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