Bird Hunt: Hundley, Packers Aim to Build on Success Versus Ravens

Brett Hundley at quarterback.  Jamaal Williams at running back.

No one could have predicted or envisioned this starting backfield combination for the Green Bay Packers—a preseason pick as a Super Bowl contender--in Week 11 of the National Football League schedule.

But Aaron Rodgers went down against the Vikings in mid-October, and running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery were injured last week against the Bears.

Former Chicago tight end and head coach Mike Ditka said the Packers deserved to win.

“They were the better team Sunday,” Ditka said.  “The young quarterback (Hundley) did a good job and made some plays.  I was impressed with some of his throws in that weather, in that stadium.  They lost a couple of running backs, but the rookie (Williams) they brought in and their offensive line got the job done.”

Hundley stepped up his game with two big fourth-quarter throws in the Packers’ gutty 23-16 victory over Chicago and Williams seized his opportunity of being the featured back at Soldier Field with 20 carries for hard-earned 67 yards.

After the game, reporters and television cameras were crammed around the locker of Williams, who displayed great ball security and did not fumble on a wet and soggy field.

“I’m most excited to get the ‘W,’ said Williams, who paused several times during his interviews to accept congratulations from teammates departing for the team busses.  “I’ve been waiting for my opportunity and felt great out there.  I only know how to run with passion and with a mean streak. . . that’s what you’ll get every time.”

Green Bay will need that kind of production from Williams and back up Devante Mays Sunday to keep Baltimore’s stingy defense honest and open up passing opportunities against a veteran Ravens’ secondary spearheaded by Eric Weddle and Brandon Carr.

Green Bay, 5-4, is very much alive in the NFC North division race and the NFC playoff picture.  The 4-5 Ravens sit 3.5 games behind first-place Pittsburg (8-2), who dismantled Tennessee Thursday night.

A physical contest with the Ravens looms Sunday for the Packers, who will again be without Jones (knee) and Montgomery (ribs), safety Morgan Burnett (groin), and lineman Bryan Bulaga (ACL knee).  The Green Bay defense performed well in Chicago against a rookie quarterback, but will face a stern test against the Ravens.

Baltimore comes off a bye week with a sputtering offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco that has struggled in the red zone and with making explosive plays.

Green Bay received a boost this week with the return of Rodgers to the practice field.  He rehabbed individually and is progressing well as he recovers from surgery on his broken right collarbone.

Hundley is filling the shoes of one of the NFL’s marquee players and the Packers’ victory in Chicago was Hundley’s first as a starter.  One he will not soon forget.

“Aaron and I are like brothers,” said Hundley at a Epilepsy fundraiser dinner in Eau Claire Tuesday.  “Great win for our team.  We have to keep this momentum going.  It gives us confidence, but every week is different and we’ve got another game to win.”

NFL Week 11 Picks

Baltimore comes off a bye week with a struggling and conservative offense focused on making more big plays.  Sound familiar?  Hundley and the Packers did it in Chicago--now they have to do it at Lambeau against one of the NFL’s top defenses that loves to blitz.  And the Green Bay defense will have to prove it can stop a veteran quarterback after dismal performances against Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in home losses.

Packers 27, Raven 24.

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