The Green Bay Packers have moved to 11-3 on the season and have officially clinched the NFC North after narrowly defeating the Ravens in Baltimore 31-30. This game came right down to the wire as quarterback Tyler Huntley -- filling in for the injured Lamar Jackson -- was able to drive his team 49 yards down the field in the fourth quarter and score a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the contest.
That score brought Baltimore within one point of tying the Packers. Instead of opting for the extra point attempt and taking their chances in overtime, John Harbaugh kept his offense on the field and decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion try. This was in a similar vein to what the Ravens decided to do against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their matchup a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they met a similar outcome as Huntley was unable to connect with Mark Andrews, which solidified the win -- and a division crown -- for Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers had another masterful performance under center and tied Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the Packers all-time passing touchdown record. He finished with 268 yards passing and three touchdowns while completing 23 of his 31 passes. On the other side, Huntley played well in this matchup and hung with Rodgers for the bulk of this game. He finished with 215 yards through the air and two touchdowns, while rushing for 73 yards and two more scores. Andrews was his main target as he hauled in 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
For more on how this game unfolded, check out our takeaways of Sunday's matchup below.
Why the Packers won
After going three-and-out on their opening possession, Green Bay's offense came alive and proceeded to score touchdowns on four of their next five offensive series. Those scoring drives were no layups either as the Packers traveled an average of roughly 83 yards on each of those first four scoring trips. That frenzy did help them jump out to a lead in the second half and put pressure on the Ravens offense to keep up and be aggressive with a number of fourth-down attempts.
As is the case most of the time, Rodgers was the straw that stirred the drink for the Packers as he was able to move them up and down the field with relative ease. He spread the ball to eight different pass catchers and finished the game with a 132.2 passer rating.
While the defense was spotty against the Ravens throughout their second-half scoring spree, the Packers unit was able to come up with some timely stops, particularly in the second half. They forced Baltimore into a field goal attempt on their first possession of the third quarter after getting into the red zone, forced a turnover on downs on the next, and then prevented the Ravens from getting the win by defending the 2-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.
Why the Ravens lost
The Ravens did start this game off on a pretty strong note. They dominated in the first quarter and took an early 7-0 lead while outpacing the Packers 120-35 in total yards of offense. However, once Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense started to turn on the boosters, it was tough for the Ravens to keep pace. To his credit, Huntley did play extremely well in this game and kept his club in it until the last few seconds.
However, there were a few instances where the offense was coming up just short. On the opening possession, Baltimore had the ball at the Green Bay 3-yard line but was unable to punch it into the end zone for the touchdown and turned the ball over on downs. On that first possession of the second half, Harbaugh wasn't able to keep his offense on the field for a fourth-and-1 attempt at the Packers' 15-yard line after a false-start penalty backed them up 5 yards, forcing them to settle for a field goal. That kick and a later failed fourth-down conversion was in the midst of a 17-0 run by the Packers to open up the second half, which kept Baltimore chasing.
While Harbaugh's decision to go for the 2-point conversion and try to win the game in regulation will be questioned, the more puzzling move in my eyes was going for it from his 29-yard line at the 12:01 mark of the fourth quarter. That failed attempt gave Green Bay a short field, which they were able to tack on three more points just before Baltimore started its comeback. It didn't burn the Ravens completely because they were still only down two scores, but if they punted the ball away and were able to keep the Packers' offense from scoring, two touchdowns (with the extra points) would have done the trick to win the game.
Attempting and failing to convert the 2-point conversion was naturally the big moment in this game. There's an argument to be made that Harbaugh should have gone for the 2-pointer on the Ravens first touchdown of the fourth quarter, but he was going to be aggressive in this spot, which we've seen over the last few weeks. Even in this game, Harbaugh showed his hands early by going for it on fourth down on the game's opening possession. He clearly did not want to put the game in Rodgers' hands, which is a smart thing to avoid if you can.
The play call itself, however, was a bit puzzling. Huntley immediately rolled out to his right, which basically eliminated half of the field that Green Bay needed to defend. With a smaller window to find the end zone and the defense keying on Andrews, it might have been better to try and catch them off guard with another primary target, even if Andrews was putting together a stellar game.
Play of the game
This throw by Rodgers will be one of the best tosses that you'll probably forget about by this time next week. The defending league MVP had zero margin for error on where he needed to place this football and hit his target perfectly while feeling pressure from his left.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling was one of Rodgers' go-to targets throughout the night and finished with five catches for a team-high 98 yards and a touchdown.
From here, Green Bay will head back to Lambeau Field and await the Cleveland Browns. As for the Ravens, they'll travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in what could be a matchup that determines the AFC North.