GREEN BAY, Wis. – The standings say the Green Bay Packers are in good shape to make the playoffs. But Monday night’s victory over the Baltimore Ravens showed they still have work to do to be taken seriously once they get there.
Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, including two to tight end Jermichael Finley, and the Packers beat the Ravens, 27-14, in a penalty-filled game Monday night.
It was the fourth straight win for the Packers (8-4), solidifying their spot in the NFC wild-card race. But it wasn’t pretty.
The teams committed 23 penalties for 310 yards, tying for the second-highest yardage total in an NFL game.
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The Ravens (6-6) struggled in coverage without star safety Ed Reed, who sat out with hip and ankle injuries.
Baltimore was called for five pass-interference penalties, the most by a team in a single game since the New York Giants in 2001. The Packers were flagged four times for pass interference.
Rodgers completed 26 of 40 passes for 263 yards with two interceptions, only his sixth and seventh of the season.
While Reed’s replacement, Tom Zbikowski, came up with one of the interceptions, the Ravens struggled in coverage.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco was 15 of 36 for 137 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The Packers sacked him three times.
The win is a continuation of a significant momentum swing for the Packers, who were 4-4 after looking bad in back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Tampa Bay in early November but haven’t lost since.
They’ve worked out some of their pass protection problems – Rodgers was sacked only once Monday night – and their defense appears to be getting more comfortable in the 3-4 scheme installed by defensive coordinator Dom Capers in the offseason.
Leading 17-0 at halftime and seemingly cruising, the Packers suddenly found themselves scrambling after a pair of turnovers, both involving Donald Driver, allowed Baltimore to get back in the game.
The Packers were driving on their first possession of the second half when Driver caught a pass in Ravens territory and fumbled as he turned to run upfield. Former Packers defensive back Frank Walker recovered, giving the ball back to the Ravens at their own 29.
Flacco drove the Ravens to the Green Bay 12, where he faced third-and-7. Given a free play after defensive lineman Johnny Jolly jumped offside, Flacco found Kelley Washington in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Washington tried to do a “Lambeau leap,” but fans pushed him out of the stands.
The play was upheld on a replay review, cutting the Packers’ lead to 17-7.
After the Packers nearly fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers watched as his first pass of the next possession bounced off Driver’s leg and into the arms of linebacker Jarret Johnson, giving the ball back to Baltimore at the Green Bay 42.
Flacco went deep, drawing pass interference on Packers cornerback Tramon Williams. Willis McGahee scored on a 1-yard touchdown run two plays later, cutting the lead to 17-14 in the third quarter.
The Packers added a touchdown after a missed field goal to go up 24-14, and Flacco threw interceptions on consecutive pass attempts to kill the Ravens’ chances for good.