Carroll County Times

Ravens Notebook: Defense plays well early, struggles late

BALTIMORE - For nearly three quarters Sunday, the Ravens' defense kept one of the NFL's best offenses out of the end zone and almost off the scoreboard entirely.
But for as well as Baltimore's defense may have played for about two and a half quarters, the Packers' offense made some key plays during the final quarter-plus that helped Green Bay beat the Ravens 19-17 Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The offense was the primary issue for Baltimore Sunday, but the defense did give up a long touchdown pass late in the third quarter, did allow the Packers to pick up four first downs and to run more than seven minutes off the clock on a drive during the fourth quarter and did allow Green Bay to pick up two first downs and to run the clock out after the Ravens' offense had cut the score to 19-17 with about two minutes remaining.
"Defensively and as a team, whenever one side struggles the other side has to play that much better. And at the end there as a defense, we put it on ourselves," Baltimore safety James Ihedigbo said.
Star Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was just 10 of 21 for 116 yards during the first half, but he was 7 of 11 for 199 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith did intercept Rodgers in the end zone to end Green Bay's first drive of the second half, but Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin had a 43-yard catch-and-run to set up a field goal midway through the third quarter and Rodgers threw a 63-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson on Green Bay's next possession.
He also completed a pass to tight end Jermichael Finley late in the fourth quarter that picked up a key first down on third-and-3 with the Ravens on the cusp of getting a stop that would get their offense the ball back with a chance at a game-winning score.
"[Rodgers] is a quarterback that hurt you with the pass and the run," Baltimore defensive end Arthur Jones said. "We just have to do a good job containing him, and obviously it wasn't enough."
But while Baltimore did at least limit Rodgers early on, it struggled to stop the Packers' running game throughout.
The Ravens began Sunday with one of the league's top rush defenses, but Green Bay had 140 yards on the ground and averaged nearly five yards per carry.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy had 120 yards on 23 carries and picked up a game-clinching first down on a third-and-down with one minute, 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Packers had just 163 yards and five first downs in the first half, but they had 271 yards and nine first downs in the second half.
They were also 5 of 8 on third downs in the second half and had the two key third down pickups by Finley and Lacy late in the fourth quarter.
"We made enough plays to win," Rodgers said. "We came into the game knowing it was important to run the ball well. We ran it very well early, and then we got away from it a little.
"It was really fun to win on offense at the end of the game. We started off at our own 20, and they basically had four timeouts left [with the two-minute warning], and we got it done."
WEBB STRUGGLES: Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb struggled at times with Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace last week, and he had some problems with Nelson on Sunday.
Nelson had just four catches, but he had 113 yards and the 64-yard touchdown that he beat Webb on.
NEUTRALIZED: Baltimore had three sacks in the first half but was held without a sack in the second half.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had 10 tackles, but he was held without a sack for the first time this season.
DOOM: Suggs was neutralized as a pass rusher Sunday, but fellow outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was a constant presence in Green Bay's backfield, especially during the first half.
Dumervil had two sacks during the first half and forced Rodgers to fumble on both of them, although the Packers did recover both fumbles.
With the two sacks Sunday, Dumervil now has five sacks this season. He and Suggs have combined for 12 of Baltimore's 22 sacks.
QUIET GAME: Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith entered Sunday as the only player in the NFL to post 85 receiving yards or more in each of their first five games, but he was limited to just one catch for 12 yards by the Packers on Sunday.
Tandon Doss led Baltimore with 99 yards on four catches. Tight end Dallas Clark had four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. And rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown had three catches for 71 yards.
JACOBY RETURNS: Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones played Sunday for the first time since spraining his knee against the Broncos in Week 1.
Jones saw limited time on offense, but he did catch two passes for 42 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown that cut Baltimore's deficit to 16-10 early in the fourth quarter.
He also averaged 25.5 yards on four kick returns.
RARE LOSS: The loss Sunday was the Ravens' first at home to an NFC team since John Harbaugh took over as their coach in 2008.
Baltimore was previously 10-0 at home versus NFC teams under Harbaugh.