As every NFL head coach will tell you, it is difficult to win on the road when committing mistakes in all three phases of the game. And despite a number of dropped passes by the wide receiver corps and a bonehead play by John Kuhn on a blocked punt, the Packers managed to pull out a win over the defending Super Bowl champs. Most impressive was the defense’s ability to play three quarters of lights-out football in Clay Matthews’s absence.
Lacy was the primary provider of offensive rhythm on a day in which James Jones and Randall Cobb both left the game early with injuries. The blocking in front of Lacy was less than impressive for the Packers, a trend that has managed to continue since the beginning of the season. And still, the running game has quickly become a bright spot for the offense as a whole, helping bail out an abnormally shaking passing attack.
Even without Brad Jones, the Green Bay front seven shut down one of the AFC’s better backfields, led by Ray Rice. The run-first Baltimore offense was held to 47 yards on the ground, including only two rushing first downs. A.J. Hawk made an unusually high impact, tallying three sacks and a handful of tackles for a loss. Green Bay came into the game with the NFL’s fifth best defense versus the run and will surely see that ranking rise after this week’s performance.
Injuries to both Jones and Cobb in Baltimore have left the Packers short-handed at wide receiver, generating bad memories of the injuries suffered in 2010. Traditionally stacked at the position, Green Bay’s sudden and unfamiliar lack of depth will put pressure on low-profile players like Jarrett Boykin, Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor to produce in key divisional games before the season’s midway point. Even more important will be the ability to lean on Lacy and the running game.
Even the most unlikely offenders took part in wide receiver corps’s down day: Jordy Nelson’s drop in the first half stalled a drive that could have yielded an early touchdown. Filling in for Cobb, Boykin’s poor route running produced a handful of incompletions on well-thrown balls from Rodgers. The corps will need to be much better if Jones or Cobb is are to miss significant amounts of time.