GREEN BAY – The Packers finished Sunday’s game without two of their top playmakers on defense and perhaps their most versatile offensive lineman.
Linebacker Clay Matthews (groin), defensive tackle Kenny Clark (ankle) and offensive lineman Justin McCray (knee) all exited and didn’t return in Green Bay’s 23-0 loss to Baltimore.
Matthews was the first to drop out in the first half. His departure came shortly after sacking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for an 8-yard loss to halt Baltimore’s first offensive series.
“I think Clay had great energy when he was in there and sparked some good momentum for our team and definitely getting the defense going,” linebacker Vince Biegel said.
McCray, making his sixth start of the season, had moved into the starting spot at right tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending knee injury. Jason Spriggs, who was activated off injured reserve on Saturday, finished the game at right tackle.
Clark played a role in the Packers containing Baltimore to only 2.2 yards per carry on 26 attempts before going down with 10 minutes, 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Alex Collins’ 2-yard run on second-and-1.
The former first-round pick was carted to the locker room and immediately ruled out. He leads the Packers’ defensive line with 29 tackles in nine starts this season.
“He’s one of those guys that’s been phenomenal this year,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “He’s one of our impact players and makes a lot of plays. Huge leader. He was the captain today and gave a speech before the game. He’s definitely a big component to our defense.”
No consolation: Davante Adams had his best game of the season with eight catches on 10 targets for 126 yards against the Ravens.
However, the Packers’ fourth-year receiver sounded more than willing afterward to trade in all the personal production for points on the scoreboard.
“We've got too much talent on offense to go out there and put on a display like that,” said Adams, who leads Green Bay with 50 catches for 620 yards and six touchdowns this year.
“There’s no reason we should have zero points whoever we’re playing. I don't care if it's the '86 Bears. I don't even know who played on the '86 Bears, but we should score on them. We've got playmakers in here, we've got the smarts, we've got the years, we've got wisdom, we've got everything in here. We've got to do better than that.”
The Packers had their chances. They drove down to the Baltimore 5-yard line on their opening series on the strength of a 33-yard pass from Brett Hundley to Adams down the sideline.
However, Baltimore neutralized the threat when veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith darted in front of a pass intended for Randall Cobb in the end zone, the first of the Ravens’ five takeaways.
“Obviously, (if) you put points on the board, that makes a difference,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “It is a momentum-breaker, but I think we were still productive even come second drive. So it’s just, we’ve got to be consistent.”
Second-year linebacker Kyler Fackrell had his most productive game of the season, tying his career high for tackles (five) with two for a loss and his first sack of the season. Fackrell factor:
The production was essential for a Green Bay defense playing without Matthews for the first time this season.
“I felt good about the way I played,” said Fackrell, a third-round pick a year ago. “That’s probably the best overall game I’ve played defensively. It doesn’t feel as good with the way we lost, but I think for myself I can take some confidence moving forward.”
New backs on the block: Without Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Montgomery (ribs) out, the Packers turned to rookies Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays to carry the load at running back.
A fourth-round pick out of BYU, Williams registered 95 total yards on 22 touches and converted five first downs, including a 2-yard gain on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter.
“I’m always running hard, but today I was trying to not only run hard but try to make some open-field moves and hopefully try to get some big plays out there,” Williams said. “But really you’ve just got to stay in the offense and wait for your opportunities and keep going.”
Mays, a seventh-round pick out of Utah State, spelled Williams in the Green Bay backfield, but fumbled twice on three carries in his first offensive action of the regular season.
“My first time when I got in there wasn’t a piece of cake,” said Williams when asked about Mays. “You’ve just got to make sure he’s OK and make sure he keeps his head. Really, we know what Mays can do, and I believe in him as my teammate.”
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