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Packers-Ravens Retroactive Live-Blog

It's been two months since I've really been active on the site.  For some of you, that is a terrible tragedy.  For many, many more, it is a source of endless joy.  But today I decided to cater to the minority and make my presence known by throwing a mini-fiesta with my DVR, a bowl of Reese's Puffs, and a strong pot of coffee.

Before we get going with the retroactive live-blog, let me just share some of the knowledge I've gained over the course of working for 80 out of a possible 168 hours in a week:

  • There are few things more traumatic than the transition from college-life to real-life.  I imagine it's somewhat like being born, except you're slightly more conscious and slightly less sticky. 

    Unlike most co-eds, I worked my way through and avoided drinking my way out of school, but nothing can truly prepare you for the real world.  There's chores?  You have to do them, otherwise you're living in filth.  There's bills?  You have to pay them, otherwise a large Italian gentleman will break your ribs.  There's family gatherings you'd rather not attend?  You have to go to them, because you don't have the homework excuse anymore.

    Real life blows, I'm going to grad school.
  • Trying to keep in shape?  Don't work overnights.  You will have no energy whatsoever during the daytime hours.  I play basketball to keep myself in shape and satisfy my over-competitiveness, and I love it.  But I haven't played in two months, and I've gotten noticably soft.  Amazing, considering I've lost weight.
  • Dry spells.  Guys, when women say that they're too tired, it's generally a toss-up between them actually being tired and not wanting to deal with you.  When a guy says it?  Definitely tired.
  • Caffeine has an odd effect after consuming too much for it.  The most noticeable symptom is when you're lying down after finally getting home and you get the ringing in the ears.  It keeps me up for at least half an hour, and my mom (who worked 3rd shift for over a decade) says it doesn't go away.  Awesome.
  • Watching sports is a major hassle.  Not only do I miss the majority of my Sunday NFL-watching, but working nights has ruined any chance I have of watching any NBA games during the week.  DVR has been my best friend, but it somehow isn't enough.

On to the live-blog!  I DVR'd this last night and watched it immediately as I got home.  I did not check the score at any time on Monday night, and I have no knowledge whatsoever of the outcome.  Enjoy!

Pre-game observations:
  • I forgot how cool of an environment Lambeau is on national TV at night.  Other cities have their stadiums surrounded by other big buildings with big, bright lights, but Lambeau sort of stands alone in the still-tiny Green Bay.  It's kind of cool, even though it's quaint.
  • Another thing I forgot?  Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski are still in the MNF booth.  Let's put it this way: it took roughly two minutes for Gruden to make the first (of what I predict will be many) "Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood" jokes.  Ugh.
  • Ed Reed is announced as inactive for the game.  Good timing to get the Ravens without their ball-hawk extraordinaire, not to mention good time by ESPN's cameras, who immediately cut to Reed spitting an enormous loogie.  Between that and the beard, he looks like a homeless guy (who makes roughly 100,000x my salary).
  • Ray Lewis may have lost a step or four, but he's still quite the motivational speaker.  It's like if Lil' Jon was coherent and dread-less.
  • The Nike Kobe and LeBron puppets are back.  Frowny-face.
  • And here comes the Ray Rice love.  Am I pleasantly surprised by my alma mater's best football product?  Yes.  Am I ecstatic to have drafted him (against my then-better judgement) in the ninth round of my keeper league?  Yes and yes.

Alright, enough of that.  Let's play some ball, gentlemen.

First Quarter!

15:00 - Green Bay receives, and Jordy Nelson avoids both tacklers and fumble-itis all the way to the 43-yard line.  Decent start.

14:34 - A play-action draw pass?  Sounds terrible, but it gained 7.

13:59 - So that's why we still have Brandon Jackson.  Excellent scramble by Rodgers to find Jackson in the flat for the first down.

12:44 - Ravens call a timeout (symptom of missing Ed Reed #1), and the next thing we see is Jimmy Football.  If someone were to kick him in the groin, I would not object.  Extra points for wearing a Billy Mays mask and demanding royalties from Budweiser.

12:32 - ESPN shows a graphic illustrating Aaron Rodgers' awesomeness on 3rd down, and he promptly finds James Jones for a first down.  Outstanding blitz pickup by both Chad Clifton (the blocker) and Scott Wells (the center).

11:22 - Korey Hall and Josh Sitton pancake Ray Lewis, opening a hole for Grant to gain a first down.  In other news, Did you know that Ryan Grant is 8th in the league in rushing yards?  When did that happen?

10:08 - ESPN continues the Rodgers love-fest by displaying his red-zone stats.  Apparently, he has 30 TDs and 0 INTs over the past two seasons when inside the opponent's 20-yard line.  Yikes.

9:17 - Mark Tauscher comes up with a tipped pass and gets tackled for a loss.  I'd criticize his decision to catch it versus batting it down, but whenever linemen get the ball, they seem so damn happy.  I can't ruin it for him.

8:41 - Mason Crosby nearly shanks a 28-yarder.  The Green Bay offense stalls in the red zone again, settling for the "easy" 3.  Sadly, neither are surprises this season.

8:30 - Le'Ron McClain's smile is hilarious.  Mark Clayton looks like 50 Cent.  I can't wait to see the offensive linemen.

8:30 - And for good reason.  Not only is Marshal Yanda's name funny, but he looks like an uncomfortable 7th grader who hasn't gotten used to his new body yet.

7:40 - Good containment on Ray Rice in the flat, but not good enough. First down, Baltimore.

7:01 - Flacco tightropes for a just-barely first down after being flushed out of the pocket.  He may have looked like an idiot doing it, but it was probably better than getting pasted by Cullen Jenkins.  I'll make fun of him either way.

5:05 - Bad decision by Nick Collins to go for the pick instead of batting down the ball.  Another first down for Baltimore.

4:18 - Well, a fumble recovery certainly absolves Collins of any wrongdoing on the previous play.  Clay Matthews is closing in on the "if a huge defensive play happens he must've had something to do with it" status currently held by Charles Woodson.

4:08 - Ryan Grant tries to return the favor, but his right knee looked like it could be down.  Maybe.  Possibly.  Could go either way.  This time, it goes the Packers' way.

3:48 - A great play by Dominique Foxworth that was (un)fortunately flagged as interference.  The replay shows a grab or two, but probably

3:39 - No matter, Rodgers throws it directly to Tom I-can't-spell-his-last-name-unless-I-check-the-recap-which-will-ruin-the-ending Zbikowski.

2:06 - Now that's how you commit pass interference!  Thanks Atari Bigby Tramon Williams!  /facepalm

1:52 - Nick Collins makes everyone forget about Williams' transgression by picking off an ill-advised flea-flicker pass into quadruple coverage.  Yeah, Flacco shouldn't have done that.

0:00 - An underwhelming first quarter filled with above-average defense and one boneheaded interception for both sides.  3-0, Green Bay.

Second Quarter!

14:52 - B.J. Raji sheds a block and drops Ray Rice for a big loss.  Lucky he didn't get called for face masking, but a good play nonetheless.

14:12 - Derrick Mason just barely misses a catchable ball to force 4th down.  I thought veteran receivers were supposed to make that play?  I guess having Donald Driver on your team gives you a skewed expectation for aging wideouts.

13:14 - Great adjustment by James Jones to come back and grab the ball for a first down.  He's definitely taken control of the 3rd WR spot on this team lately.

11:59 - By my count, that's three catches in this game that Jennings should have had but failed to come up with.  This troubles me.

11:55 - Punting inside the 50-yard line?  Greg Easterbrook would be appalled, then proceed to write a 10,000 word article about it.  Shoot, if I included random interstellar factoids, referred to certain teams by ridiculous self-coined nicknames, and added superfluous cheerleader facts that allowed me to post their photos, I'd be Greg Easterbrook.

11:13 - Trey Wingo informs us that Jimmy Clausen will be entering the 2010 NFL Draft.  Brady Quinn advises him to stay in school.

11:06 - Charles Woodson gets busted for mauling Derrick Mason.  The groping wasn't necessary, Chuck.

11:01 - Clay Matthews asserts himself all over Joe FlaccoJared Gaither doesn't know what just happened.

10:21 - Offsides on Clay Matthews?  Jared Gaither claims to know what happened on the previous play.

9:48 - I know Jordy Nelson was dynamite at Kansas State, but I haven't seen enough promise out of him to merit keeping him on punt returns.  Then again, it's more important to keep Woodson and Williams fresh, and Will Blackmon made his yearly trip to I.R. early this season.

8:30 - Haloti Ngata owns Daryn Colledge to drop Ryan Grant at the line.  I wonder how long until Colledge loses his spot?

7:51 - It's plays like this that got Frank Walker traded.  Thanks for the yardage!

7:42 - Ahman Green exhibits remarkable blitz pickup to spring Jermichael Finley on a big gain.  Mike Tirico noted this, and Gruden promptly refers to him as Brandon Jackson (twice!) before correcting himself.

5:08 - Jermichael Finley makes another big play, thanks to another great third down throw from Rodgers.  First and goal, Packers.

4:35 - I'm no psychic, but as soon as I saw Finley split out wide, I saw the quick fade coming.  Fantastic throw, outstanding catch, b-e-a-utiful play.  10-0, Packers.

4:35 - I just remembered my fantasy football situation.  Going into this week, three teams in my division were 7-5, with me among them.  I play one of them this week and the other next week, and the other already has his victory wrapped up.  I'm up 130-24 in a game I need to win to move into a tie for first place and help secure a playoff spot next week (the final week of the season).  My opponent has Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, and the Packers defense playing.  I have Ray Rice.  Man, am I glad that his other players (Adrian Peterson, Reggie Wayne, Ricky Williams) all laid eggs.

2:00 - The two-minute warning comes up, and Mike Tirico just got done "highlighting" the Packers' 38-28 loss to Tampa Bay.  In the team meeting the described, he said that the offensive line stood up and said something to the effect of "hey, you have to help us out too".  I hope I misheard him.

1:50 - Rodgers gets the first on a sneak, and a fight nearly breaks out because Brandon Jackson is protecting Rodgers from what he thought was a late hit.  Whether he was right or wrong, it is nice to see that kind of fight in your team.

1:24 - Donald Driver goes flying, earning Baltimore its 11th pass interference penalty on the year, leading the league.

1:18 - Green Bay ruins the momentum by giving up their first sack of the game.  /facepalm

1:09 - And Rodgers gets it right back with a 20-yard scramble right up the middle.  I take back my /facepalm.

0:38 - Rodgers delivers a Jon-Gruden-Quarterback-Fraternity-Approved LASER to Greg Jennings' back shoulder.  Nice, except for Gruden's rambling.

0:32 - Rodgers connects with Donald Driver for a score, punctuated by two acrobatic leaps by Driver (one into the end zone, one into the stands).  The Packer fan in me is ecstatic: the fantasy football owner is frantic.

0:00 - A solid defensive stand by Green Bay keeps the shutout alive.  17-0 Green Bay, at the half.

Halftime observations:

  • None.  I have to be at work again in 8 hours (as of 1 PM), and I haven't slept yet.  But the score doesn't lie.  This game is totally worth staying up for.

Third Quarter!

14:07 - I don't know how they practiced for the past week and a half, but Green Bay is absolutely starving Ray Rice.  He's trying his damndest, but he can't make anything happen.  Why'd I start him against the #1 defense again?

12:31 - Brad Jones notches a sack from the strong side.  Rookie 7th round pick?  No matter.  Boring name?  Who cares?  Buried on the depth chart?  Not for long, I hope.

12:05 - Ryan Grant doesn't gain a ton of yards on this play, but it looks as if he's churning his legs and fighting for extra yardage more than I'm used to seeing from him.  Did anyone else notice this?

9:57 - Rodgers gets time in the pocket, makes even more time, dances around, and finally gets sacked.  Somehow, the play is negated by an illegal hands-to-the-face penalty.  It seems like one of those games for Green Bay tonight.

9:30 - Then Scott Wells gets called for holding.  Yep, it's definitely one of those games for Green Bay tonight, even if the score doesn't reflect it.

9:04 - Wow, I'm going to stop complaining about stupid penalties.  I almost feel bad for Ravens fans.  P.I. number twelve on the year for Baltimore.

8:27 - Jermichael Finley re-injures his knee.  Not at all happy to see that.

8:23 - Nice connection to Driver that results in a fumble that quite possibly could be ruled an incompletion, if it was reviewed.  Blah, a 17-0 lead in the third quarter shouldn't be this frustrating.

8:01 - Jon Gruden: "Somebody has to rescue the Ravens' offense right now."  Yeah, that's Ray Rice's job, and he didn't come in today.

7:50 - As if on cue, Ray Rice rips off a big run.  Jon Gruden gets to feel smart, and I lose a little bit of my soul.

6:07 - Jon Gruden praises Charles Woodson's ball-raking ability.  The adolescent-me giggles uncontrollably.

5:18 - "Nobody strips a ball like Charles Woodson!"  Adolescent-me is now crying with laughter.

5:13 - Todd Heap drops a sure-fire 1st and goal, then Tramon Williams forces Mark Clayton to drop one in the end zone with a slightly-more sneaky arm bar.  Illegal?  Yes.  Effective?  Absolutely, that's why it's illegal.

3:35 - I don't know what the refs were talking about before this drive, but they are letting the defense play.  You don't see many drives last this long against a defense that's getting away with everything.

3:28 - A free play and a Kelley Washington touchdown deflates the stadium.  The play gets challenged, but I'm skeptical.

3:28 - Modern Warfare 2 commercial, set to Eminem's "Til I Collapse".  Best 30 seconds of non-football I've seen today.  Get that game, if you can handle it.

3:28 - Turns out that I was right; the score stands.  Green Bay is out of challenges for the game, unless of course they used the item cheat and got one for free.  17-7, Packers.

3:22 - Evan Dietrich-Smith comes up with the kickoff.  My immediate thought: "This cannot end well."  Of course he fumbled, but Green Bay was lucky enough to regain possession.

3:14 - Jared Johnson gets an interception off of Driver's shin.  I'm not liking this third quarter.  Too much bad mojo.

3:07 - More bad mojo with Tramon Williams' P.I. in the end zone.  Actually, this one is relatively tame compared to other plays the refs have allowed tonight (today?).

2:58 - Willis McGahee pushes his fantasy-irrelevant self in from the 1.  Makes my Ray Rice decision feel even better.  17-14, Packers.  /double facepalm

2:43 - Jennings manages a nice gain on a 3rd and 10 slant.  I was just about to start considering wondering whether or not Green Bay was possibly maybe starting to lose it.

1:52- Ray Lewis nearly decapitates Greg Jennings, and the flag takes forever to come in.  But it does, which is all that matters.

0:42 - A Mark Tauscher hold takes Green Bay out of the red zone the same way they got in: on the yellow cloth road.

0:00 - I knew this game seemed too sloppy to be a blowout.  17-14, Packers, but our guys are in scoring position.

Fourth Quarter!

14:50 - Mason Crosby shanks a field goal, leaving the drive with nothing to show for it.  Same score, same story.  I sure hope the defense can regain its first-half composure.

13:53 - Flacco unleashes the dragon deep, Derrick Mason gets past Charles Woodson and makes the catch over him, but somehow got called for offensive pass interference.  At this point, I don't know which team is trying to give the other team more breaks, honestly.  And an unsportsmanlike penalty on Mason is tacked on at the end of it.  A huge gain turns into a huge loss in a heartbeat.  3rd and 32 (!). 

13:05 - So of course Baltimore decides to run the ball and Ray Rice nearly fumbles.  Green Bay gets the ball back with decent field position.

12:30 - And here comes the replay of the Mason interference/unsportsmanlike penalties.  There was definitely a hook-and-push around Woodson's waist, and Mason follows up that number with a plea for leniency to the referee.  Pretty standard, right?  Nah, just kidding, he pretty much shouted in the ref's face, "What the f--- was that, man?"  Yeah, that's a flaggin'.

10:31 - Jermichael Finley gets another touchdown after a couple of nice short passes to get within 20 yards.  Aaron Rodgers' red-zone stats improve, Jermichael gets the "Mr. Monday Night" nickname, my fantasy team starts to quiver in terror, and the score jumps to 24-14, Packers.

10:21 - Ah, Green Bay special teams, you never cease to disgust me.  A massive kick return puts the Ravens deep into Green Bay territory.  Then again, how hard is it to juke out Mason Crosby?  The goalposts do it to him on a weekly basis.

9:46 - Tramon Williams earns yet another pass interference flag in the end zone.  I thought there was a cap to how many times a player could get flagged for the same thing over and over?

/conveniently forgetting the Ahmad Carroll era

9:30 - How?  How?  How does a cornerback make that play?  Tell me how Charles Woodson just stopped McGahee when he had a massive opening to go through?  Between that and flustering the Ravens to the point of calling a timeout, I'm pretty sure Charles Woodson should gain an edge for the DPOY award after tonight.

8:47 - Joe Flacco rolls nearly 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, avoids a sack, and tosses it nicely into Tramon Williams hands.  Mike Tirico exclaimed "That is terrible!" as the ball was still in the air!  I cannot believe Flacco made that throw.  Downright Bad Favre-esque.  Kudos to Williams for not retreating into the fetal position after all the penalties tonight.

8:38 - Still trying to figure out the last three plays of that Baltimore drive.  Tackle for loss, timeout, interception, all from within the 5-yard line.  When's the last time Green Bay came up with that kind of stop?

7:12 - Baltimore's defense forces a 3-and-out as the King of Third Down and James Jones miscommunicate on a fly-stop route.

6:48 - Yeah, Joe Flacco's having a bad day.  This time he throws it right into the hands of A.J. Hawk, who was quietly having another solid game (which is EXACTLY WHY WE DRAFTED HIM!  FOR QUIET, SOLID GAMES!) before this play.  Back-to-back interceptions for the Unibrow, and I'm almost sad to see it.  Remember, my fantasy team is up 130-24, but I'm playing Rodgers, Finley, and the Packer defense while starting Ray Rice.  The offense I can deal with, but this stifling defense is killing me!

6:00 - Ahman Green smashes his way to gain a short first down, and the running out of the clock commences.  How much time can they milk from the clock?

2:56 - Turns out they can burn a whole lot of time.  Interesting graphic on Green Bay receivers, going from Sharpe to Brooks to Freeman to Driver to Jennings. 

2:15 - "Hey Coach Gruden, I found a pair of your old practice shorts."  If there's a better setup for a pasty white guy wearing green-and-gold short-shorts in below-freezing weather, I've never seen it.

1:56 - Crosby avoids the shank-osaurus and makes it 27-14, Packers.  Solid lead.

1:52 - Gruden brings up the possibility of a Vikings-Packers rematch in the playoffs.  I say, don't get ahead of yourself, but the prospect of facing what might be a slowly-fading Favre, a possibly nicked-up Peterson, and a banged-up defense in Minnesota isn't nearly as terrifying as it seems.

0:29 - Fittingly, Clay Matthews chases Flacco down for his second sack of the day.  Ted Thompson deserves all the slack in the world for having the stones to trade up for this guy.  He could draft Jimmy Clausen next season and I'd still like him.

0:00 - The sack is the last play of the game, and the Packers earn the win, 27-14.

Post-game thoughts:

Not many, again due to my exhaustion.  But I will say this: the offense played relatively well, Aaron Rodgers carried the team with his passing.  The defense was stifling for much of the game, and Charles Woodson should be the front-runner for DPOY, and even in the conversation for defensive-players-who-deserve-the-MVP-but-won't-get-it-because-they're-not-a-quarterback-or-running-back (if he wasn't already).  The playcalling was really well thought out on both sides of the ball, and the execution of many of the plays was awfully impressive.

But two things stand out as glaring negatives.  First was the penalties.  So many penalties.  If Baltimore didn't flag it up more than we did, it would stand out more.  Tramon Williams has a lot of talent, but he cannot get caught using use that armbar anymore.  It simply costs too much yardage.  And Chad Clifton needs to get his business together, because he's smarter than he's playing.

The second thing was the final score.  27-14 seems like a solid win, but with all of the opportunities that the Ravens gave up, it should have been a much wider margin.  Playoff teams win games like this soundly, which the Packers did.  They should, they're a playoff team.  But championship teams beat their opponent senseless when they come up with as many takeaways as they did (4).

All that said, this is Green Bay's fourth straight win after falling to 4-4.  You can't ask for a better setup for the final quarter of the season.

And my fantasy team?  They hung on for a 137-80 victory, largely because I had actually started Rashard Mendenhall instead of Ray Rice.  See what working third shift does to you?