The Seahawks were good in the pass rush, and got some huge players from Russell Wilson and his stable of running backs that now has to be regarded as one of the best trios in the NFL.
So what kind of swing did Seattle’s 27-24 win over Green Bay on Thursday mean for the two teams’ playoff hopes?
According to 538.com, Seattle’s improved from 27 percent to 37 percent, while the Packers’ dropped from 23 to 14.
The Seahawks hardly looked like the team with the better chance of playing in January, though, when the Packers stormed out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
But then these re-tooled Seahawks played like so many of the teams that came before them, making the plays when they had to, scoring the winning TD with 5:08 remaining.
The win made Seattle 24-5-1 in prime time under Pete Carroll, and 8-1 on Thursday night, and was the 25th fourth-quarter comeback for Russell Wilson in 118 games (including playoffs), which ties him with Detroit’s Matthew Stafford for the most of any QB since 2012.
Now the grades.
Russell Wilson was bad early — he overthrew a wide open Doug Baldwin for a touchdown in the first quarter, which forced Seattle to settle for a field goal. But after going 3 for 8 for 12 yards in the first quarter he was 10 for 11 for 101 in the second and sterling throughout the rest of the game, finishing 21 for 31 for 225 yards and two TDs. He came up clutch in the fourth quarter while Aaron Rodgers wilted. Pick on Wilson all you want for the off-target throw early. But when it mattered most he was the best QB on the field.
The Chris Carson early fumble is hard to overlook completely — Carson has had a few fumbles and that’s something that needs to be reined in. But take that out and this was another good night for a Seattle tailback crew that, at this point, has to be considered one of the best in the NFL. Carson finished with 83 yards and a TD and rookie Rashaad Penny had 46 as the Seahawks easily won the rushing battle finishing with 173 to Green Bay’s 48.
Was this Doug Baldwin’s breakout game? Appearing healthy for the first time all season, Baldwin was a factor throughout. He scored his first TD in the second quarter and was wide open for another in the first. And he finished with a season-high seven receptions for 52 yards, but could have had a much bigger game if Wilson had been on-target early on.
David Moore made the big catch on a third down to spark the drive that got Seattle going in the third quarter.
And Tyler Lockett had the two huge catches on consecutive plays to key the game-winning drive and finished with 71 yards, hauling in five receptions from five targets.
Nick Vannett continues to come up with a key play or two every game. His 17-yard catch on a second-and-six set up Carson’s TD in the second quarter. And Ed Dickson had the game-winner on a night the Seahawks hardly missed Jimmy Graham, who had just one catch for 13 yards for the Packers before leaving with a thumb injury.
The Seahawks contested the five false-start calls (four of which were on the line) heavily after the game, with center Justin Britt going on a long tirade complaining that the officials were not calling Green Bay for trying to simulate the count, which is illegal. But they happened, as did the three sacks allowed. Conversely, the rushing yards showed again that, by this point, Seattle has to be considered as good a running team as there is in the NFL. And then, running off the last 4:11 of the game with four runs for 24 yards that gained two first downs was as big of a statement as the line has made all season.
Green Bay had some early success, with 245 yards at halftime and Rodgers seemed to have all the time he needed early on. But that changed in the second half when Rodgers was sacked four times (five overall) and the Packers were held to 114 yards on 22 plays, with the Seahawks getting the better of Green Bay up front.
Frank Clark had two more sacks, and now has 10 for the year. Rookie Rasheem Green, a third-round pick out of USC who is healthy again after missing four games with a sprained ankle, also had his first career sack in the fourth quarter, that coming on a third down to force the Packers to kick a field goal. Jarran Reed also had another standout game with half a sack, and he led the effort that held the Packers to 13 yards rushing on four attempts in the second half, and 48 on 13 overall.
With K.J. Wright out, the Seahawks opened the game largely using Barkevious Mingo at weakside linebacker, along with five defensive backs. But the Seahawks moved away from that after a few series, using Austin Calitro more at WLB and at times going with a dime look with six defensive backs and one linebacker — Bobby Wagner. That look resulted in Clark’s second-quarter sack. Calitro stayed in the game throughout the second half and again came up big in a reserve role, finishing with five tackles and half a sack. And Wagner was huge in the effort controlling the run.
Seattle had a few struggles in this area, though most teams that play against Rodgers do.
Seattle was beaten in man coverage for two of the longest plays it has allowed this season — a 54-yard TD in the first half when Bradley McDougald seemed to lose track of tight end Robert Tonyan, and then when Shaquill Griffin was beaten for Davante Adams’ 57-yard gain in the fourth quarter. That set up Green Bay’s final field goal. But a few of Rodgers’ sacks also came when the secondary had tight coverage and no one was open. A win is a win.
Another big day for Michael Dickson (52-yard average on four punts). And while Mason Crosby missed an early field goal that proved to be the difference, Sebastian Janikowski made his two attempts.