The Green Bay Packers (3-2) showed great resilience with a win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens (3-3) on Sunday in Maryland, thanks in large-part to a defense which shined despite not having some of their key players.
The Packers were without All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) and inside linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) on Sunday because of injuries, but the defense played just fine without two of their most important defenders.
At outside linebacker, Nick Perry stepped up in a big way, as he recorded a strip-sack on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco late in the first half to help give the Packers a 6-0 lead at halftime. Perry and the Packers’ defensive front sacked Flacco five times on Sunday and have recorded 14 sacks in their last three games.
Replacement inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore made his first career NFL start and was a solid surprise. Lattimore is in his third NFL season, but he had only recorded 15 total tackles in his entire career entering Sunday’s game. Against the Ravens, Lattimore didn’t look lost or fazed by the big moment at all on Sunday.
Lattimore only recorded three total tackles, but two of those tackles were for a loss. Playing alongside veteran inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, both linebackers helped stymie the Ravens offense, holding them to only 47 rushing yards on 22 carries and 17 points.
Hawk had a career day, as he recorded 10 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks, but Lattimore wasn’t far behind in terms of production.
Yes, Hawk did have the better numbers and he may have been the best defender on the field today, but he couldn’t have done it without his fellow inside linebacker’s play.
What was most impressive on Sunday was how comfortable Lattimore looked on the field. He didn’t make any significant mistakes, didn’t miss any crucial tackles and was a big part in the Packers’ goal-line stand on the Ravens in the first half from their own one-yard line.
The Packers had been handed adversity after beating the Detroit Lions (4-2) last week at Lambeau Field as they had to overcome injuries during this past week of practice.
On offense, their MVP quarterback struggled and they had to overcome significant injuries on Sunday (Randall Cobb and James Jones both left with knee injuries).
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy rightfully deserves credit for youngsters like Lattimore who are able to play at such a high-level in such a pivotal game. McCarthy has faith and confidence in all 53 players on his roster and knows Lattimore is one of many players who can unexpectedly shine when asked to do so.
Lattimore took advantage of his opportunity on Sunday and was a big helping hand in the Packers’ win on Sunday.