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Fueled by defence, Packers defeat Ravens

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The Canadian Press
10/13/2013 6:17:19 PM
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BALTIMORE -- For much of the afternoon, Aaron Rodgers was ducking oncoming linemen and misconnecting with hurried throws.

When it counted, however, Rodgers came up with the big plays.

Rodgers threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy ran for 120 yards and Mason Crosby kicked four field goals as the Green Bay Packers beat the Baltimore Ravens 19-17 on Sunday.

Rodgers went 17 for 32 for 315 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He played most of the game without two of his top three receivers -- James Jones hurt his left knee on a first-quarter play, and Randall Cobb left for good after being struck on his right knee on a tackle by Matt Elam.

And still, Rodgers was magnificent.

His 64-yarder to Nelson gave Green Bay a 16-3 lead late in the third quarter. After the Ravens closed to 19-17 on an 18-yard touchdown catch by Dallas Clark with 2:04 remaining, Rodgers clinched the victory with a 52-yard completion to Jermichael Finley on a third-and-3.

Rodgers completed only seven passes after halftime, yet those plays totalled 199 yards.

"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."

The Ravens (3-3) had won 13 straight at home against NFC foes.

"Aaron made some really good plays out of the pocket in the second half," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "Early, he held it and took some sacks. Later, he held it and found some openings."

Rodgers received ample aid from a depleted defence. Despite playing without injured linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, the Packers limited Baltimore to 47 yards rushing and registered five sacks, including three by A.J. Hawk.

"It's kind of been our motto for a long time around here: 'Next man up.' We have to make it work," Hawk said. "We had a lot of young guys out there today who really did a good job."

It all added up to Green Bay's first road win following losses at San Francisco and Cincinnati.

"It's important to win on the road in this league if you want to make the playoffs," Rodgers said. "This was a tough environment. This is a team that's defending champs, a football team that's very well-coached, great players on both sides of the ball. This is a great team character-building win."

Green Bay went up 9-0 in the third quarter when Crosby kicked a 50-yard field goal to cap a drive that featured a 43-yard pass play from Rodgers to Jarrett Boykin.

Baltimore answered with its first score, a 23-yard field goal by Justin Tucker following a 59-yard completion from Joe Flacco to rookie Marlon Brown.

Harassed and hurried for much of the afternoon, Rodgers finally came up with a signature moment. He started to his left, then rolled right before lofting a perfect spiral to Nelson, who had gotten behind Lardarius Webb.

Down 16-3, the Ravens began playing with a sense of urgency. Flacco directed a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 11:52 remaining.

Jones, who missed the previous four weeks with a knee injury, finished with two catches for 42 yards and had a 35-yard kickoff return.

Looking to enhance Green Bay's 16-10 lead, Rodgers and the Packers held onto the ball for just over 7 1/2 minutes before Crosby kicked a 31-yard field goal with 4:17 remaining.

It turned out to be the game-winner.

Flacco went 20 for 34 for 342 yards and got no help from the running game -- Ray Rice finished with 34 yards on 14 carries and was stuffed three straight times inside the 5 during the second quarter.

"We've got to be better on first and second down," Flacco said.

Baltimore accumulated only 36 yards of offence during the first quarter, zero on the ground.

In the second quarter, a peculiar sequence of events began when Green Bay's Ryan Taylor blocked a punt. The ball bounced beyond the line of scrimmage, was touched by John Kuhn of the Packers and recovered by Baltimore at its own 41-yard line. The Ravens subsequently got a first-and-goal at the Green Bay 4, but four straight runs failed to get the ball into the end zone.

Late in the half, Flacco was sacked and lost the ball. Green Bay's Datone Jones recovered and Crosby connected on a 31-yard field goal as time expired for a 6-0 lead.

Jarrett Boykin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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