EditorsNote: adding Harbaugh coaching milestone
Ravens’ defense shuts down Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the course of three hours on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers couldn’t find the end zone against the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore’s defense bent here and there, but never came close to breaking in beating Green Bay 23-0.
The Ravens (5-5), coming off their bye, had six sacks and forced five turnovers.
It was the first time the Packers (5-5) were shut out since 2006, when they were blanked by the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots in head coach Mike McCarthy’s first season.
The Ravens started the game by forcing three consecutive turnovers. In the second half, they got two fourth-down stops and forced two more turnovers.
By the time the game ended, most of the fans remaining in Lambeau Field were wearing the purple of the Ravens and had gathered behind their bench.
“Anthony Levine, our special-teams ace, said to everyone today, ‘Let’s be legendary in a legendary stadium,'” said safety Eric Weddle, who had one of the team’s interceptions.
“We are in a seven-game stretch where we can’t just be good. We have to be the best in the league for us to get where we want to get. Shoot, a shutout in Lambeau.”
Even with three takeaways, Baltimore led only 6-0 at halftime. However, the Ravens struck quickly to open the second half to take a 13-0 lead, with Joe Flacco dropping a perfect 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Wallace against cornerback Damarious Randall.
The lead seemed insurmountable, barring a major blunder from Flacco, who entered the game with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. However, Flacco turned in one of his better performances of an otherwise disappointing season, going 22 of 28 for 183 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
”To come here and to play pretty much spotless football, the kind of game we needed to play to win the game,“ Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. ”We had the one turnover going in and that’s really the only thing we didn’t do toward the victory.
“I feel like the rest of the plays, the 160-some plays, were all played in terms of winning football. And that’s what we needed to do.”
The Ravens’ touted pass defense dominated Packers quarterback Brett Hundley. Starting his fourth game in place of Aaron Rodgers, Hundley was guilty of four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble).
“I can’t say I’ve ever won a game with four, five turnovers. The odds are stacked high against you,” Hundley said. “If we take care of the ball this game, hopefully it would be a different story, but I’ve got to take care of the football as the quarterback of this team.”
Matthew Judon and Willie Henry had two sacks apiece. Terrell Suggs added a sack midway through the fourth quarter that gave Baltimore its fourth takeaway. That set up Justin Tucker’s third field goal, which made it 16-0 with 4:46 remaining.
One more sack by Suggs and an interception by rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey, which set up Alex Collins’ touchdown run just before the two-minute warning, clinched the shutout.
Wide receiver Davante Adams had a big day with eight catches for 126 yards for the Packers (5-5), who lost their third straight at home.
With a dominant defense and dysfunctional offense, Baltimore could do no better than a 6-0 lead at halftime.
The Ravens, who entered the game with a league-high 13 interceptions, added two on the first two possessions.
On the first, the Packers had a second-and-goal at the 5, but cornerback Jimmy Smith dropped coverage on Adams to intercept an end-zone pass to receiver Randall Cobb.
On the second, Hundley uncorked an ill-advised deep pass as he was about to be hit by outside linebacker Za‘Darius Smith and was intercepted by Weddle.
The Ravens turned the second interception into a 32-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
Baltimore added a third turnover in as many possessions when Judon stripped running back Devante Mays, with inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor recovering.
”I think the biggest thing is you talked about the first drive, we were able to move down there,“ McCarthy said. ”But the result of the first three drives ending in turnovers and really the turnovers were probably the biggest factor in the game from my viewpoint. You have to take care of the football.
“You know, you look at our history here in Green Bay as far as the standard we’ve set, winning the turnover ratio and that was offensively, way too much for us to overcome.”
The Ravens just couldn’t do anything with their good fortune. Onwuasor’s recovery gave the Ravens the ball at the Packers 43, but the offense lost 5 yards.
Then Michael Campanaro returned a punt 28 yards to the Packers’ 30 with 1:37 left in the half, but the Ravens couldn’t get a first down and settled for a 39-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
NOTES: The Baltimore victory was the 100th of John Harbaugh’s head coaching career. He has won 90 regular-season games and 10 in the playoffs. ... Packers WR Jordy Nelson moved into third place on the team’s all-time receptions list with a first-series catch. He had been tied with Hall of Famer James Lofton for third with 530 receptions. ... Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley (concussion) and Packers CB Kevin King (shoulder) were the starters on the inactive list. ... Packers OLB Clay Matthews recorded his first sack since Week 4, but suffered a groin injury and did not return. Packers RT Justin McCray, starting for Bryan Bulaga (knee; injured reserve), injured a knee and was replaced by Jason Spriggs. Packers DT Kenny Clark was carted to the locker room with an ankle injury. ... Ravens RB Danny Woodhead was activated from injured reserve on Saturday and caught four passes in the first half.