By Drew Olson Special to Published Dec 08, 2009 at 1:03 AM
GREEN BAY -- The 17th "Monday Night Football" broadcast to originate from Lambeau Field will be remembered -- if it indeed is remembered -- as a long, tedious, choppy, sloppy and penalty-marred affair that sent many fans outside of Wisconsin and Maryland searching their sofa cushions in search of lost remote controls.

How bad was it? Referee Walt Anderson and his crew got more exposure than Tiger Woods and his girlfriends on Seriously -- the Packers and Ravens combined for 23 penalties and 310 yards, the second-highest yardage total in NFL history.

But, the Packers weren't complaining.

Though it wasn't an artistic success, their 27-14 victory over Baltimore -- accomplished before a sellout crowd of 70,286 on a 21-degree night -- lifted their season record to 8-4 (how big is that loss at Tampa looming now?) and put them on a solid track to win a wild-card playoff berth.

"I don't want to say we're in the driver's seat," said cornerback Tramon Williams, whose roller-coaster night of pass interference penalties and a redemptive interception reflected his team's fortunes.

"But, we're feeling pretty good right now."

The Packers won this game because their defense was outstanding and their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers (26 for 40, 263 yards, 3 touchdowns 2 interceptions), was far better than his counterpart, Joe Flacco (15 for 36, 137 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions).

"We did hit a little spot there where we couldn't move the ball and they got some points, but you've got to give their defense credit," said Rodgers, who connected with tight end Jermichael Finley for two touchdowns.

"They're a veteran defense. They were minus (veteran safety) Ed Reed tonight, but Ray (Lewis) is very good at diagnosing stuff at the line of scrimmage and they brought a lot of pressure tonight and did a nice job."

The Packers, who are almost certain to regain the top defensive ranking in the NFL, brought pressure and felt some, too. Leading by 17-0 at halftime, they fell victim to a pair of Donald Driver-tinged turnovers and allowed a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter before icing the game in the fourth.

"It starts with our defense," McCarthy said. "That's the face of our football team."

Sparked by rookies Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and Brad Jones, they forced three interceptions and limited standout Ravens running back Ray Rice to 54 yards in 14 attempts. Rice, who fumbled on the 17-yard line to derail his team's opening drive, wasn't blown away by the venue.

"To be honest with you, it was just Lambeau Field," he said. "I didn't see anything special. They put us in the middle of nowhere and it's not a real exciting place.

"Everything about this place is terrible, to be honest with you."

What was terrible was the penalty parade. Green Bay became the second team in 20 years to commit three turnovers and be penalized 175 or more yards in a victory.

"It was hard to get in a rhythm," Rodgers said.

The trouble cut both ways. Ravens receiver Derrick Mason was called for a critical offensive pass interference play, which he compounded with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Williams was whistled for a pair of pass interference infractions that put the ball at the 1-yard line, but atoned by intercepting a pass in the end zone to seal the victory.

"It felt great, I can't lie to you," he said. "You're going to get some calls you don't want sometimes. I just kept playing my game."

Though angered by mistakes in a game his team dominated on the stat sheet, Packers coach Mike McCarthy was happy with that approach.

"I'll say this about our football team: I was very proud and excited the way they overcame the adversity," McCarthy said. "Whether it was overcoming penalties, being in a long down and distance situation or being on the one yard line... The adversity that we overcame throughout the football game is something that we will definitely carry forward as a football team."

Said Rodgers: "We've got to take care of the ball a little better, but when our defense plays like it did tonight, we're going to be tough to beat."

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.