Photo Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images – Field Gulls
Green Bay (1-0) would outplay and out coach the Seattle Seahawks (0-1) in a 17-9 victory during week one of the NFL season. The Seahawks offense was punchless against the Pack’s aggressive defensive front seven.
As Seattle’s offense continued to struggle, the defense was clearly wearing down throughout the third quarter. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was clinical during the Packers’ last drive of the third quarter, including using his legs to pick up a first down and extend the drive when it appeared Seattle had stopped them earlier in the drive. After eight plays, the veteran quarterback got the snap off while the Hawks were still subbing in players to get a free play…but they didn’t need the penalty as he found Jordy Nelson running up the seam, unguarded, for the 32-yard touchdown play; which extended Green bay’s lead to eight points.
After Seattle’s offense went three and out, the Packers would march down the field in five and half minutes on 12 plays to kick a field goal to give them a 17-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Packers final drive of the game would be would chew through the final minutes of the game clock and force Pete Carroll to burn through all his time outs prior to the two-minute warning. It saw Rodgers use his legs to pick up a first down on a blown play, get hit by KJ Wright as he was diving and then seeing tight end Martellus Bennett hit Wright after the play was over…drawing the flag. But it didn’t matter as the Packers drove down the field and picked up a couple of crucial first down heading into the two-minute warning, which allowed them to drain the rest of the game clock on three straight kneel downs.
Blair Walsh would kick his third field goal of the game to cut the Packers’ lead back down to eight. Amara Darboh went up to catch a pass near the goal line, but he was drilled by three defenders and he landed out-of-bounds as he lost control of the ball on third down; which led to Walsh’s field goal attempt.
Early in the third quarter, Seattle got the ball back on its 21-yard line and politely gave it to the Packers on their six-yard line after Wilson was obliterated when the offensive line couldn’t pick up the blitz. Rodgers handed the ball off to Ty Montgomery, who followed his left tackle into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game…giving the Packers a 7-3 lead.
The Seahawks followed up the Packers touchdown with their longest drive of the game (at that point), 11 plays and 71 yards. Wilson targeted Jimmy Graham twice in the end zone, the second of which sailed as his head as he was getting mugged in the back of the end zone on third and goal…but the officials didn’t call pass interference. As a result, the Seahawks had to settle for another Walsh field goal…this one bringing them within one point of Green Bay.
In Green Bay’s first possession of the second half the Seahawks defensive line was aggressive and pushed the Packers’ offensive line around, forcing Rodgers out of the pocket and giving him little time to stretch the field horizontally. Despite the defensive front seven’s successful push up front, Rodgers picked up a pair of first downs before the defense brought his offense’s drive to complete stop. But the biggest defensive play came when the snap was fumbled and the defensive line could push back the Pack’s o-line to recover the loose ball; unfortunately, Green Bay recovered it.
Seattle mounted a serious offensive threat in the last-minute of the first half as Wilson would hit Baldwin for 34-yard reception, to get Seattle to Green Bay’s 44-yard line with 22 seconds left; Baldwin would get hit out-of-bounds to stop the clock. The quarter back would then scramble for 22-yards to get Seattle within field goal range; on the next play, Wilson would throw the ball behind Jimmy Graham in the end zone…and then another incomplete pass that fell harmlessly to the turf. Walsh would hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
Green Bay’s most serious offensive threat in the first half came when Rodgers hit Adams for couple of big gains to get to Seattle’s 43-yard line. But the Seahawks defense would only give up three yards to force a punt. Before the Packers’ punt burned down the clock to 1:07 to take the delay of game penalty, which Seattle declined, to leave as little time as possible for Wilson and the Seahawks offense to get into field goal range.
Rookie defensive end Nazair Jones picked off Rodgers and then returned the ball 55-yards to the house, but the play was called back on a questionable block in the back call on Cliff Avril. Cornerback Jeremy Lane was ejected from the game for throwing a punch at Adams after the wide receiver had twisted his face mask around during Jones return and no penalty was called. Seattle’s offense did nothing with the turn over to give the ball back to Green Bay’s offense.
The first half was consistently dominated by both defensive lines as the Seahawks and Packers were consistently in the backfield. Bennett had one and half sacks in the first half, including one in the second half that put Green Bay in second and 18 early in the second quarter…unsurprisingly the Pack ended up punting the ball. Rodgers was sacked three times by three different Hawks in the first half, which is a major reason why the Packers’ offense was largely ineffective.
It was clear that Green Bay’s defensive scheme was to collapse the pocket by crushing towards the middle and force Wilson to make a play with his legs; and it was effective for the first quarter as Seattle only picked up three total yards in the first quarter. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell attempted to change-up the team’s offensive portions by calling more plays to get his quarterback out of the pocket in the second quarter…unfortunately the offense was still out of sync – including Wilson missing a wide-open Tyler Lockett on third and six.
Punter John Ryan was the MVP of the first half as he was consistently pinning the Packers deep to give them a long field. Because of these long punts, the Seahawks defense could pin its ears back and attack the Rodgers. Lockett was a close second as he routinely had good — to great — returns, but they were constantly getting negated due to dumb penalties from his blockers.
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