In the Green Bay Packers' 19-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the defense was the story. Despite missing several key players in Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, and Casey Hayward, the unit had a number of players step up and play well in their absence.
With the offensive struggles and injuries to key receivers, there aren't many game balls to go around on that side of the ball. However, there's no question about the one player whose performance we will recognize in this space.
Lacy was the one consistent threat on offense for the Packers on Sunday. He kicked off the game with two big runs on the team's first two plays, racking up 47 yards and putting the offense in field-goal range immediately. Lacy then bookended the game with a big showing on the final two drives, when he kept the chains moving and helped put the offense in manageable third down situations. He didn't find the end zone, but that's back-to-back weeks that Lacy has had big games. In total, he ran 23 times for 120 yards (5.2 YPC).
The Packers' much-maligned long-time starter at inside linebacker had a career day on Sunday, posting ten tackles and three sacks. He also made a number of big stops in the running game and had a solid day in coverage, allowing two receptions on four passes into his coverage for 20 yards (according to Pro Football Focus). He was also universally lauded by his teammates for his handling of the defensive calls and for getting his teammates in the right position. The Ravens' offensive line couldn't seem to figure out where Hawk was, as he came free multiple times on blitzes both on run and pass plays. This game should be remembered for a long time, especially as he was working without a pair of his fellow starters at linebacker.
With Perry manning the right side for over half of the defense's snaps, it was almost like we didn't miss Clay Matthews at all. Perry had a nose for the ball and crashed quickly down the line on several running plays to stop them for losses. He also got consistent pressure on Joe Flacco and had his second sack-strip in as many games. That one turned out to be a huge play, as Datone Jones' recovery of the ball gave Mason Crosby a second chance to turn a 3-0 lead into a 6-0 advantage just before halftime.
Is there any more question about how much Burnett means to this defense? Yes, his presence keeps Jerron McMillian off the field (in most situations), but it's far more than that. He was a monster in run support on Sunday, and was a key piece on a few of the plays on the goal-line stand. He looked bad on the 4th-down conversion by Baltimore, but he appeared assigned to a shallower zone anyway, and correctly allowed Tandon Doss to run by him with McMillian in coverage behind him. All in all, his return has helped to stabilize the Packers' secondary and
Let us know in the comments who among these players deserves your single top game ball for the week.