With only two wide receivers for most of the game, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore 19-17 Sunday afternoon.
James Jones was injured very early in the first quarter and Randall Cobb left with a knee injury at the end of the first half, leaving Green Bay with only Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin, who hadn’t caught a pass all season, as the only two healthy wide receivers on the field for Green Bay.
"It's kind of been our motto for a long time around here: `Next man up.' We have to make it work," Green Bay linebacker A.J.Hawk said. "We had a lot of young guys out there today who really did a good job."
Nelson caught a 64-yard touchdown in the second half and Boykin added a 43-yard catch. Boykin was targeted six times, but was out of sync with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy ran for 120 yards on 23 carries, including his longest run of the year, 37 yards.
Despite just 36 combined points, the game was full of big plays on offense, defense, and special teams.
There were 13 plays of 15 yards or more and 10 of those went for 30 yards or more. Another eight plays went for 10-15 yards each.
Perhaps the most crucial play, however, was a 1-yard play in the second quarter.
Green Bay stuffed a 4th-and-1 running play from the Packers 1-yard line in the first half. A crucial play considering Green Bay won by just two points.
Another crucial play occurred with under :10 left in the first half. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco dropped back to pass and was stripped of the ball by Green Bay defensive end Nick Perry.
Fellow end Nick Perry scooped it up and ran 20 yards before being tackled, fortunately, for it left :02 on the clock for Crosby to kick a 31-yard field goal.
The defenses of both teams contributed more to the big play department. In addition to the aforementioned plays, they made a whopping 16 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Green Bay led both categories with 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Hawk had three of the sacks, adding to what has been an excellent all-around season for Hawk thus far.
The Green Bay defense stymied Baltimore all game. The Ravens needed an average of 11.2 yards on third downs and were just 2-of-14 converting them.
But wait, there was more.
Rodgers fumbled twice, both recovered by Green Bay, and threw an interception.
Green Bay special teams blocked a punt, which John Kuhn tried to pick up past the line of scrimmage. Failing to do so, Baltimore recovered it for a first down.
Rookie cornerback Micah Hyde, a 5th round pick from The University of Iowa, had a great game defensively with a sack, tackle for loss, and just solid tackling all day. He also returned five punts for 68 yards, including a 23 and 22 yarder.
Baltimore wide receiver/returner Tandon Doss added a 38-yard punt return of his own.
The Green Bay offense, for the 4th game this year, moved the ball easily everywhere but into the end zone.
The first Packers drive of the game yielded 53 yards on six plays before stalling and Mason Crosby hit the first of his four field goals, this one from 45 yards out.
Crosby missed his first field goal of the season from 45 yards out with under one minute left in the first half. Green Bay drove inside the Ravens 20 before moving backwards on two penalties.
Just 0:18 later Crosby hit the 31-yard field goal and Green bay led 6-0 at halftime.
The third quarter was quiet until mid-way through when a scoring frenzy erupted as each team scored on it's next three possesions.
Hyde's 18-yard punt return and Boykin's lone catch led to the third Crosby field goal of 50 yards and a 9-0 Packer lead.
A 5-play, 60-yard drive led Baltimore to the Green Bay 5-yard line where they scored their first points on a Justin Tucker 23-yard field goal.
Green Bay followed that up with the game's longest touchdown and play of the game. Rodgers connected with Nelson wide open behind the defense and a 64-yard touchdown.
Baltimore answered right back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive added by a defensive holding call on a third down and capped with a Flacco to Jacoby Jones touchdown.
It was Jones first game back since injury during Week 1.
Green Bay drove inside the Ravens 20-yard line for the third time in the game before Crosby's fourth field goal.
The Ravens kept it close by converting a 4th-and-21 gaining the 21 yards and another 42 when Packers safety Jerron McMillan fell down leaving Doss wide open down the middle of the field.
One play later Flacco hit another University of Iowa alum in the game, veteran Dallas Clark who made a brilliant one handed grab for an 18-yard touchdown.
Baltimore kicked the kickoff deep instead of an onside attempt. They were unable to stop Green Bay.
A short slant to tight end Jermichael Finley put the nail in the coffin and incidentally inside the Baltimore 20-yard line again where Green Bay ran off the remaining clock for the 19-17 victory.
"Days like today remind you of why you love this game so much," Rodgers said. "Offensively, we're struggling a little bit, but we found a way to make enough plays to win."
Green Bay (3-2) hosts Cleveland (3-3) next week. Baltimore (3-3) faces Pittsburgh (1-4) on the road
As previously mention, James Jones left with a leg injury very early in the first quarter.
Randall Cobb was injured at the end of the second quarter, also with a leg injury.
Several Packers defenders had outstanding games including Hawk, Hyde, Perry, and Morgan Burnett. If Hyde hasn't officially won the nickel cornerback slot, he will shortly. While Perry has developed very nicely in his second season and Hawk is having his best year as a professional in my opinion.
Crosby missed his first field goal of the season. In the last two games he is 9-of-10. A real question mark coming into 2013. Crosby has looked like the Crosby that was the NFL leader in percentage until his disastrous 2012.
Green Bay again struggled to find the end zone. Driving inside the Raven red-zone 4 times with no touchdowns.
Down two receivers, the Packers called designed runs on 59 percent of their second-half plays (from ESPN).