Another win, more drama: Packers 27, Ravens 14

2009-12-08T01:00:00Z Another win, more drama: Packers 27, Ravens 14Tom Ziemer | tziemer@madison.com | 608-252-6174 madison.com

GREEN BAY -- It's not that a win Monday night was going to guarantee the Green Bay Packers a playoff berth.

But it sure was going to strengthen their postseason chances.

A day after the New York Giants knocked off the Dallas Cowboys to pull within a game of the Packers in the NFC wild card race, Green Bay had a chance to tighten its tenuous grip on one of the two spots up for grabs.

The Packers took care of business, albeit in a sometimes-nail-biting 27-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens in front of a sellout crowd of 70,286 at Lambeau Field.

In a flag-filled game that saw the teams combined for 23 penalties for 310 yards -- tied for the second-most combined yardage in NFL history -- the Packers

(8-4) made enough plays down the stretch to ward off the Ravens (6-6) and remain a game up on the Giants in the wild card hunt.

"We control our own destiny, so that's always what you want," said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose team has won four straight. " ... Big win against a veteran, experienced defense."

After Baltimore had pulled within a field goal at 17-14 late in the third quarter, Rodgers found tight end Jermichael Finley for a touchdown -- their second scoring connection of the night -- and cornerback Tramon Williams made a key interception of quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone to deliver the decisive blows on a chilly night.

Rodgers was 26-for-40 for 263 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Finley caught a team-high seven passes for 79 yards.

The Packers' defense -- the league's second-ranked group -- held dual-threat running back Ray Rice to 54 yards on 14 carries and three catches for 17 yards. Flacco completed 15 of 36 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions.

Baltimore managed just 185 yards of total offense.

"We've won four games in a row," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We've had some injuries. We're doing a good job of overcoming. ... We're winning games and I felt like we improved today. And that's our goal every week. We're going to do whatever it takes to win the football game."

Green Bay built a 17-0 halftime lead behind a dominant defensive showing and an offensive display that picked up speed after a slow start.

Green Bay appeared to be continuing to roll along after the break until Donald Driver fumbled at the Baltimore 32, and the Ravens responded by marching 71 yards in 11 plays, with Flacco finding wide receiver Kelley Washington for a 12-yard score to pull the visitors within 17-7 with 3:28 left in the third quarter.

Baltimore then benefited from a fortuitous bounce on the next play from scrimmage.

A low throw from Rodgers clanged off Driver's leg and popped up into the air, with Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson plucking it.

A pass interference call on Williams in the end zone gave Baltimore the ball at the 1, and it scored one play later via backup running back Willis McGahee to tighten the score to 17-14 with 2:58 left in the third.

Green Bay answered by driving to the Ravens' 17, but stalled and came away with no points after Mason Crosby missed a 38-yarder wide right.

But the Packers made the plays they needed to down the stretch.

On their next possession, Rodgers found Finley from 19 yards out to restore the lead to 10 at 24-14 with 10:31 to go.

Green Bay's latest special teams gaffe -- a 68-yard return by Lardarius Webb on the ensuing kickoff -- and another pass interference call on Williams in the end zone gave Baltimore the ball at the 1 on the next possession. But Williams intercepted an ill-advised throw by Flacco on second down -- while rolling right, he tried to find Demetrius Williams on the opposite side of the field -- to preserve the lead.

"I think it was a stupid decision and a worse throw," Flacco said.

After a three-and-out by the Packers, linebacker A.J. Hawk intercepted Flacco's first-down throw intended for tight end Todd Heap, and Crosby booted a 32-yarder with 1:56 left to put the game out of reach.

"I'll say this for our football team: I'm very proud and excited (about) the way they overcame the adversity throughout the football game, whether it's overcoming penalties, being in a long down-and-distance situation or being on the 1-yard line, overcoming giveaways, overcoming takeaways," McCarthy said. "The adversity that we overcame throughout the football game is something we'll definitely carry forward with us."

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