Packers notes: Hit on Cobb sparks debate
BALTIMORE—There has been a lot of debate about the ever-shrinking tackling targets and some of it took place in the middle of the Green Bay Packers' 19-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Baltimore rookie safety Matt Elam went low on Packers receiver Randall Cobb following his catch over the middle and hit Cobb in the right knee. Cobb tumbled over and was down for awhile, eventually needing a cart to go from the sideline to the locker room.
Cobb appears not to have suffered a season-ending injury, but he might be out for a while. The hit Elam made did not sit well with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who ran over and appeared to give Elam a piece of his mind.
“The other safety came over and made actually a very knowledgeable point that I appreciated a little, intelligent banter back and forth about some of the issues the defensive players have to deal with with the target area,” Rodgers said. “I totally understand that and get that.
“I just thought from my vantage point, he had plenty of time to not take out a guy's legs in that situation. I thought he could have hit in the proper hitting zone and that's what I told him.”
Defensive players across the league have said that it's becoming more difficult to determine where the best place is to hit a player coming across the middle with the rules in place to prevent concussions. Some defensive players have said it's forcing them to go low to make tackles.
The hit on Cobb was legal from the NFL's point of view. No flag was thrown.
“It's tough,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Defensive guys are put in a small target zone to make plays, to make hits. They can't go high, so there's only one other place to go. I'm not saying that low, but I haven't been in that situation so I'm not going to judge anybody who has to make the play.
“I think it's a split-second decision (not) I've got to get back there and thinking if he throws it up high I'm going to take a guy's knee out. It's tough. You don't want to see it, but it's tough to play defense now.”
After he completed his 52-yard reception by going out of bounds at the Baltimore 21, tight end Jermichael Finley quickly understood his mistake.
His impressive catch-and-run on third and 3 at the Packers 27 with 1 minute 53 seconds left practically sealed the game. All the Packers needed to do was get one more first down, which running back Eddie Lacy got on third and 2 at the Baltimore 13.
However, Finley could have made it easier on the Packers if he had fallen to the turf and not gone out of bounds because it stopped the clock and allowed the Ravens to hang on to one of their two remaining timeouts.
“At the point you have to use your football sense,” Finley said. “At the same time, it's still a two-point game so in my mind it's not clicking, how much time is left? I'm just trying to be the athlete that I am and make a play.”
Finley said his eyes lit up when he saw the Ravens were going to try to cover him with Elam and that Elam was playing outside leverage on him. Finley wanted to go inside on the route so he all he had to do was give him a quick shake move and he was open over the middle.
“I had him boxed out,” Finley said. “I made a move to get him off me a little bit more. The other safety, No. 32 (James Ihedigbo) was coming over the top so I had to make a play against him also.”
The Packers were quite fortunate at the end of the first half, although rookie end Datone Jones didn't seem to think luck had anything to do with it.
With the ball at the Baltimore 34 and 12 seconds to go, linebacker Nick Perry sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and caused him to fumble. The ball bounced to where Jones was able to pick it up and make a run for the end zone.
The only problem was that he might not make it. For the Packers to get some points out if it he either had to score or get down on the ground before time expired.
“I was thinking about it,” Jones said. “I felt I had enough time to try to run it in. I thought I could make it, most definitely. But I got caught from an angle. The guy didn't run me down from behind. If I had a clear path you would have seen my speed.”
Jones got hauled down at the Baltimore 13 after a 20-yard return. The clock ran out, but the officials ruled that there were two seconds left when he went down, so that allowed kicker Mason Crosby to hit a field goal from 31 yards to give the Packers a 6-0 lead at halftime.
“That was a big play,” Jones said.
Crosby missed for the first time this season, ending a streak of 10 straight field goals to start the season.
The miss occurred with 26 seconds left in the half. Crosby said he hit the ball well but was off line by just a little.
It looked as if he was going to have all halftime to dwell on it, but Perry made the sack, Jones returned to the 13 and Crosby suddenly had a 31-yard field goal attempt. Only 24 seconds of game clock passed between attempts.
“What I've talked about this whole time is moving on from the last kick,” Crosby said. “That was a quick case of moving on.”
Crosby finished 4 of 5 Sunday, and for the season is 13 of 14.
Safety Jerron McMillian had a poor couple of minutes late in the game.
On fourth and 21 at the Baltimore 19, Ravens receiver Tandon Doss ran down the middle of the field right into McMillian's area. McMillian, who was playing deep safety, was slow to react and fell down when he turned to run with Doss.
Doss caught the pass and rumbled 63 yards to the Baltimore 19.
“They ran all verticals; I just fell,” McMillian said. “It's not technically my guy. He just got enough time to throw that. I just tripped on the turf. I don't really like this turf.”
On the very next play, McMillian was matched up one-on-one on 34-year-old tight end Dallas Clark and got beat for an 18-yard touchdown.
McMillian said the call never came into him that it was supposed to be man-to-man coverage and he was playing zone.
“If it was going to be just me and him one-on-one, I would have played it totally different,” he said. “I don't think everybody got the call because they were going so fast.”
Perry is the second player in two games to get hurt sacking the quarterback.
Last week, Clay Matthews broke his thumb sacking Detroit's Matthew Stafford and will miss about a month.
Perry sacked Flacco and sprained his ankle. He sat out most of the second half but did come back for five plays. He said it was up to him whether to come back and he and the medical staff decided he shouldn't push it.
“Don't want to push it, don't want to overdo it,” Perry said. “Don't want to make it worse. Overall, it was just how I feel. We've got guys well enough that can do the job. I looked at it as a time to sit back and let some of the younger guys get in there.
“I think we need everybody now that Clay's down. We're not looking forward to any more injuries. It was just preventive.