Packers still haven't fixed trouble spots

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GREEN BAY, Wis. --- Their defense is on the rise, their offense is doing a better job protecting oft-hit quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have won four consecutive games to put themselves in solid shape for the playoffs.

But Monday night's 27-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens showed that a few of the problems that have hounded the Packers (8-4) all season might not be going away. They're still drawing an alarming number of penalties, and their special teams seem to choose the worst possible moments to melt down.

The Packers are running out of time to solve those problems before the playoffs, but they are getting much better at bouncing back from their mistakes.

"We didn't lay it down," tight end Jermichael Finley said. "Teams have known for us to lay it down in the second half, and we didn't do that."

The Packers came into the season with playoff expectations. But they got off to a disappointing 4-4 start, giving up too many sacks, drawing penalties, allowing long returns at critical points in games and not getting consistent pressure on the quarterback.

The Packers gave up only one sack to the Ravens on Monday night and have allowed only four in their past three games. And Green Bay's defense is clearly getting more comfortable with defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, playing dominant at times during their current winning streak.

But the Packers were called for a whopping 11 penalties for 175 yards Monday night. And they had two more setbacks on special teams, giving up a long kickoff return and missing a 38-yard field goal.

It wasn't perfect, but the Packers will take it heading into this weekend's game against Chicago.

"A win's a win in this league," center Scott Wells said. "You've got to find a way to pull out games like this. Each one is critical and to be able to come out in this environment and overcome our mistakes is huge. That's something we weren't able to do earlier this year."

Then there's special teams.

Mason Crosby has missed a kick in each of the Packers' last two games, a 43-yarder against Detroit and the 38-yarder against Baltimore.


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