By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The relentless Ravens’ defense played fast and furious on a brisk Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Packers, Hundley regress against Ravens’ defense in 23-0 shutout
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The regressing Packers’ offense played feckless and infuriating.
The result was predictable: Baltimore 23, Green Bay 0.
The moral victory that was the Packers’ stellar defensive play seemed hollow. The fact that Clay Matthews (groin) and Kenny Clark (ankle) were knocked out with injuries made it so.
Today, the questions outnumber the answers in Green Bay.
Brett Hundley’s slow but steady improvement took a big hit. Baltimore’s defense – one of the NFL’s best – owned Hundley from the second he threw an opening-drive interception.
Jimmy Smith nullified the Packers’ best drive of the game with an end zone interception that sent Hundley into a free fall. For the next three hours Hundley resembled a wobbly, punch-drunk boxer trying to hang on for dear life.
Whether Hundley’s confidence was crushed only he knows. There’s no debate that his performance suffered mightily after the crucial early mistake.
It was merely first of five – count ‘em – five turnovers by Green Bay. Hundley threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Rookie running back Devante Mays played like a rookie with two fumbles in three rushing attempts on the day.
It led Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to bench Mays due to a lack of confidence, which further stifled an already imploding offensive attack.
The Packers hadn’t been shut out since Nov. 19, 2006, when the New England Patriots KO’d both their starter (Brett Favre, elbow) and backup (Aaron Rodgers, ankle) in a 35-0 rout.
Hundley finished 21 of 36 for 239 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 43.6. He was sacked six times and harassed constantly.
His inexperience showed in a variety of ways.
He retreated to nowhere in the face of a pass rush, yielding ground like a player down to his final dice roll in Risk.
He took sacks instead of throwing the football away. It was especially true on a busted screen play that he refused to recognize was, well, busted.
McCarthy declared his belief in Hundley after the game. He also said he is sticking with his third-year quarterback going forward.
I take that to mean going forward as in next week’s game. As far as going forward on the field with an emaciated offense?
Good luck with that.
Davante Adams continued to shine on an otherwise drab offensive day. He hauled in eight passes for 126 yards, including a sweet 33-yard catch. Jamaal Williams added four catches for 38 yards, but Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for just five catches and 58 yards.
Adams was asked if the Packers’ offense is in panic mode.
“We’re not in panic mode, everything is still in front of us,” Adams said. “We’ve got to get a grip of it real quick here. Otherwise, we will be in panic mode.”
Clearly, he didn’t rule out the possibility of more trouble ahead.
Meantime, Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense managed to do enough to get the win.
Flacco hit 22 of 28 passes for 183 yards and an interception. He posted a 90.9 quarterback rating highlighted by a 21-yard touchdown throw to Mike Wallace.
It came on the Ravens’ opening drive of the second half and gave Baltimore what seemed like an insurmountable 13-0 lead.
The Ravens finished with six sacks, five turnovers and hope.
“Defense, obviously, was off the charts,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s about as good as you can play on defense.”
Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey also intercepted Hundley, and three Ravens had two sacks each.
“It (don’t) mean anything if we don’t make the playoffs,” pass rusher Terrell Suggs said. “It’s good, but if we don’t get in … you won’t remember them.”
The Packers need to take care of the football.
Otherwise, they don’t have much of a chance given their offensive limitations.
“You have to take care of the football,” McCarthy said. “Offensively that was way too much for us to overcome.”