ReFo: Packers @ Ravens, Week 6
Steve Palazzolo looks over the best and worst of a largely defensive struggle that ended with some offensive fireworks.
ReFo: Packers @ Ravens, Week 6
Offense was hard to come by for much of the afternoon when the Green Bay Packers traveled to play the Baltimore Ravens, but a handful of defensive breakdowns on both sides of the ball marred an otherwise stellar effort from both teams. With the Packers leading 9-3 late in the third quarter, quarterback Aaron Rodgers found wide receiver Jordy Nelson for a 64-yard touchdown strike on a beautifully thrown deep post route. The Ravens fired back with a score of their own, but Green Bay answered with a field goal to put them up by 9 points with just over four minutes to go in the game. Baltimore came right back, however, as they completed an improbable 63-yard pass from QB Joe Flacco to WR Tandon Doss before putting the ball into the end zone on the very next play. A potentially dramatic finish ended rather abruptly as the Packers ran out the clock on their next possession to escape with the win and avoid a potentially disastrous collapse.
Let’s take a look at the games key performances.
Green Bay – Three Performances of Note
Unsung Names on Defense
The Packers tapped into every bit of roster depth defensively as 20 players saw at least 10 snaps on that side of the ball. They got a number of much-needed strong performances, all the more important with top player Clay Matthews out due to injury. One of the players expected to pick up the slack is outside linebacker Nick Perry, and he’s stepped up with the best two games of his career the past couple weeks. He led the Packers at +3.0, including five pressures (1 sk, 4 Hu) on 21 attempts and a +1.4 run grade. His strip sack with 0:12 to go in the first half led to a turnover and a cheap 3 points for Green Bay.
Among the other top performances was FS Morgan Burnett who graded at +3.1 in just his second game of the season. He was active in the running game as he finished with six stops, including getting in on three tackles during Green Bay’s goal-line stand in the middle of the second quarter. After navigating through traffic unblocked on first and second down, Burnett got outside fullback Vonta Leach’s lead block and made the tackle for no gain on 3rd-and-1. The Packers held strong on the next play on their way to keeping the Ravens out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
No Safety Help
While Burnett shined on the back end, SS Jerron McMillian (-3.1) had his struggles, particularly in the fourth quarter. He was the culprit on the Ravens’ 4th-and-21 conversion with 2:40 to go in the game, a play that would have joined the annals of historic desperation conversions had it ended up affecting the outcome of the game. McMillian was charged with covering the deep middle on the play, but he fell to the ground and allowed for a relatively easy 63-yard completion from quarterback Flacco to Doss. Flacco gave McMillian no time to sulk as he targeted him on the very next play resulting in an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Dallas Clark that ended in a nifty one-handed catch. Two plays, 81 yards, and a 9-point lead cut to only 2, all into McMillian’s coverage. Though Green Bay held on to win, the last couple minutes were not kind to the second-year safety.
Handled in the Trenches
Despite decent final rushing numbers (26 carries for 125 yards), the Packers’ offensive line was unable to create holes on the ground for much of the game. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith finished at -3.0 as a run blocker as he had trouble moving the Ravens’ big defensive tackles, Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams. Williams beat him at the 11:46 mark of the fourth quarter, and later on the same drive with 9:03 to go. Left tackle David Bakhtiari was not much better as he was often charged with blocking OLB Terrell Suggs who got outside him to get in on the tackle with 7:03 to go in the third quarter. In addition to the offensive line, the tight ends were of little help as Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless graded at -1.9 and –1.4 respectively as run blockers. Both players had their issues with Suggs, particularly Quarles when he tried for the seal coming out of the backfield at the 12:13 mark of the third quarter. The Packers best blocked play was their second run of the game that saw running back Eddie Lacy go for 37 yards, but other than that, and a Baltimore mishap that led to a 17-yard gain early in the fourth quarter, the yards were hard to come by for Green Bay.
Baltimore – Three Performances of Note
Coming Back Down to Earth
It was certainly a surprise to see SS James Ihedigbo sitting atop our safety rankings through the first quarter of the season, but he’s fallen off with negative games each of the past two weeks. He finished at -3.6 for the game, including -2.9 in coverage. He doubled his season total with four missed tackles, three of which came after receptions. He whiffed on WR Randall Cobb after a slant route with 5:06 to go in the first quarter, and he was among three Ravens who were unable to take WR Jarrett Boykin to the ground on his 43-yard reception at the 8:29 mark of the third quarter. Throw in a bad angle on WR Jordy Nelson’s 34-yard post pattern with 1:17 to go in the first half and it was not Ihedigbo’s best effort.
Dumervil Shines Again
Though few doubted OLB Elvis Dumervil’s (+6.2) ability as a pass rusher, signing with Baltimore in the offseason as a free agent seemed an odd fit given the $8 million price tag and presence of OLBs Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw on the roster. Suggs is one of the league’s best, while Upshaw showed great ability to stop the run in his rookie season a year ago, so the addition of Dumervil appeared to be with sub-package pass rushing the intention. Instead, Dumervil has shown well as an every-down player, even showing improvement in the running game. He was once again the best pass rusher on the field as he got in on five pressures on his 26 rushes, including two strip sacks. He beat RT Don Barclay on both occasions, first getting to the edge with 4:08 to go in the first quarter before putting Barclay on skates at the 12:21 mark of the second quarter to get inside and once again strip an unsuspecting Aaron Rodgers. Despite the loss, Dumervil made his presence felt once again, and his +16.8 overall grade through six games has him looking like one of the league’s best free agent pickups.
Still Weak Up Front
Perhaps the story of the season for the Ravens is the poor play from their offensive line. Newly acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe got the start and finished with a rather average day at -0.4, including a sack and two hurries surrendered on 44 attempts. The real issues were at guard where LG Kelechi Osemele and RG Marshal Yanda graded at -1.8 and -1.3 respectively, and at right tackle where Michael Oher finished at -1.9. Osemele was beaten early in the run game, while Yanda continues to make some stellar reach blocks on the back side of Baltimore’s zone runs, but he’s been struggling with the rest of his assignments in recent weeks. Getting tossed aside by DE Mike Daniels at the 12:31 mark of the fourth quarter is certainly uncharacteristic of last year’s No. 4 run blocking guard. As for Oher, he surrendered five hurries on his 44 attempts while having his own struggles in the running game, namely against DE Johnny Jolly. For the Ravens to turn things around from their 3-3 record, they must be better up front.
– Rodgers was pressured on 14 of his 37 drop-backs going 5 for 10 for 39 yards and interception, and a QB Rating of 20.4.
– Ravens WR Torrey Smith was targeted only three times, notching one reception for 12 yards.
– Among the other strong efforts on the Green Bay defense: DE Johnny Jolly (+2.1), LB Jamari Lattimore (+3.0), LB A.J. Hawk (+0.9, three sacks), and CB Micah Hyde (+2.7).
PFF Game Ball
Despite the loss, Elvis Dumervil gets the game ball for his two strip sacks that were potential game-changers had the ball bounced the Ravens’ way either time.
Follow Steve on Twitter.