Richie Cunningham kicked a 42-yard field goal with three seconds remaining as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Ravens, 17-15, last night before a crowd of 62,025 at Memorial Stadium.
It was the Ravens' first loss of the preseason, and it came against a team that rates among the favorites to reach the 1997 Super Bowl.
Cunningham's kick ended an eight-play drive that started at the Green Bay 31 with 1: 02 left in the game. The big play in the series was a 35-yard pass from quarterback Doug Pederson to receiver Eric Matthews that put the ball on the Ravens' 30.
Cunningham's field goal foiled a comeback by the Ravens (2-1), who had taken a 15-14 lead with 1: 06 remaining when quarterback Eric Zeier threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ray )) Ethridge.
"There is nothing you can do. We lost the ballgame," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "The important thing was that I thought that our guys didn't forget to fight. They fought right until the end. They made a tremendous comeback. It ended up we didn't win, that's the way it goes."
But the game never should have been this close. Baltimore's first offensive unit pushed the Packers (3-0) around in the first half, but turnovers and penalties hurt the Ravens, who played their regulars the first two quarters.
The Ravens played solid defense during that span, but the offense failed on four drives inside the Packers' 40-yard line.
Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde's performance was not up par. Testaverde completed only seven of 15 passes for 77 yards and made two critical mistakes.
"We made some mistakes this week that we didn't make in the previous weeks," said Marchibroda. "They didn't stop us, we stopped ourselves and we have to correct that. We weren't quite as alert as we needed to be. But we played one of the top five teams in the league, and we held our own.
"Vinny will be all right. The important thing is he made the right reads," Marchibroda added. "I don't think he played quite as well as the two previous games, but he is doing the right things. There is not a question mark or concern there. Very few guys have 16 great ballgames."
Marchibroda, though, was excited about his team's spirit and intensity. The Ravens made a number of big plays.
Safety Bennie Thompson and cornerback Donny Brady sandwiched running back Brian Satterfield forcing a fumble that set up the drive to Ethridge's touchdown. Brady hustled and nearly caused a fumble by receiver Derrick Mayes the play before Cunningham's winning kick.
But Marchibroda was critical of his special teams for the second straight week. The kickoff team allowed 104 return yards on three kicks, and Greg Montgomery averaged only 32.3 yards per punt.
Despite the troubles, Green Bay led only 14-9 at the end of three quarters as both teams scored in the period.
The Packers opened the period with their first-string offense against the Ravens' No. 2 defense. Green Bay scored on a 5-yard touchdown run by Satterfield with 6: 53 left in the quarter to complete an 11-play, 94-yard drive. The big plays in the drive were Favre passes of 10, 18, 8 and 35 yards.
The Ravens came back with a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive of their own as Zeier passed 2 yards to receiver James Roe for the touchdown.
Zeier was the key factor in the drive, often scrambling and making big plays, including a 28-yard throw to Jermaine Lewis in a second-and-10 situation, and then moving to his left and drifting back to his right to find Roe for the score that brought the Ravens within 14-9.
Zeier had his most impressive preseason game, completing 14 of 21 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think we did some things well," said Zeier. "I think I did some things well. I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in the pocket."
Green Bay couldn't stop the Baltimore offense, but the Packers didn't have to, as numerous mistakes left the Ravens behind, 7-2, at halftime.
On their first possession of the game, the Ravens went from their own 28 to the Green Bay 29 in eight plays. But on third-and-seven, an illegal procedure penalty against offensive tackle Orlando Brown nullified a 14-yard reception by Derrick Alexander and Testaverde threw incomplete to Alexander on the next play to halt the drive.
Green Bay's offense was superb on the ensuing possession as Favre tore up the Ravens' defense. Favre threw to tight end Keith Jackson for 18 yards off a bootleg.
Favre then threw 25 yards to receiver Antonio Freeman (Poly) over the middle, and found Robert Brooks for 16 more yards on a crossing pattern. On first-and-goal from the 3, Favre lofted a touchdown pass to Brooks for a touchdown with 4: 54 left in the first quarter.
The Ravens again moved the ball on offense, this time going from their own 26 to the Green Bay 36. But on third-and-nine, Roe, a rookie, had a reception down to the 1 disallowed because he stepped out of bounds before catching the pass.
Another threat wasted.