Beat writer Bob Condotta gave you his keys to Seahawks-Packers. Now, after Seattle's come-from-behind win, he reviews what worked, and what didn't, on Thursday Night Football.
It wouldn’t be the Packers in Seattle without something memorable happening.
And maybe this wasn’t Golden Tate grappling with M.D. Jennings in the end zone in front of replacement refs who would return to day jobs a few hours later, or a kick bouncing off a reserve tight end named Brandon Bostick to determine who goes to the Super Bowl.
But as far as 2018 goes, Seattle’s 27-24 comeback win over the Packers Thursday night was about as big as it gets.
Here’s our weekly review of what I thought might happen and what actually did happen, with a few detours along the way.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
WHAT I SAID: Green Bay RB Aaron Jones vs. Seattle run defense.
WHAT HAPPENED: Jones came into the game leading the NFL in rushing yards per attempt for any back with more than 70 carries at 6.77. He averaged barely half that against the Seahawks — 3.6 — almost 1.5 yards less than his previous low APC for any game this season. So, game, set and match Seahawks on this one. Jones had 16 yards on his first two carries on the first series, including an 8-yard TD run, but just 24 on nine carries the rest of the game.
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Seattle’s running game against Green Bay’s defense.
Seattle’s rushing attack at this point has to just be considered as a given. The Seahawks rushed for 173 yards, the seventh straight game Seattle has rushed for 155 or more — I can’t confirm that’s the first time in team history that has happened but I did check that that has never happened in the Pete Carroll era, nor did it happen in 2005, the year Shaun Alexander won the MVP, nor 1983, the birth of Ground Chuck (Knox). Also, Seattle rushed for more than 155 yards just once last year and just twice in 2016.
PLAYER TO WATCH
WHAT I SAID: WR Doug Baldwin.
WHAT HAPPENED: This was a good pick as Baldwin had an interesting game, leading Seattle with seven receptions on 10 targets, good for 52 yards, and his first touchdown of the season. But as Baldwin noted afterward, he was open for at least two more potential TDs, with Russell Wilson throwing a pass to him in the end zone that Shawn Kemp couldn’t have reached in his prime. Still, that Baldwin was again wreaking havoc was a big deal for Seattle. “It; s really important for us that he is a legit threat for our opponents because he can do a lot of stuff and do a lot of damage,’’ Carroll said. Baldwin also supplied one of the quotes of the season when asked after the game if scoring his first TD got him pumped up. “Nah, I’m a savage regardless,’’ he said. Aren’t we all.
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: QB Russell Wilson.
As I always note, Wilson could always be a player to watch, But man was he a player to watch in this one, starting out 3-8 for 12 yards in the first quarter and then going 18-23 for 213 yards and two touchdowns in the final three quarters in outdueling Aaron Rodgers down the stretch. Seahawks fans tweeting “trade Russell Wilson’’ in the first quarter were hastily hitting the delete button around 8 p.m.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
WHAT I SAID: How will the Seahawks divvy up the carries at tailback?
WHAT HAPPENED: Seattle started Chris Carson, as coaches had said would happen, then used Rashaad Penny in a rotation the rest of the game with Mike Davis serving as the third down/two-minute back. The three combined for 29 carries for 155 yards, an average of 5.3 per attempt (Carson’s 4.9 was the lowest of the three). Davis also had two receptions for 24 yards. Carroll would take that every day of the week, and even days that aren’t of the week.
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Replay challenges.
Carroll won a big one, getting officials to overturn what was initially ruled an incomplete pass to David Moore on a third down in the third quarter — Seattle would have been punting from its own 6 with a third straight three-and-out otherwise — with replay showing that Moore had taken at least three steps before losing control of the ball. Carroll is now 3-4 on challenges this year, the other two resulting in a third-down completion to Moore against Detroit and an Earl Thomas interception against Dallas (he lost when appealing that Oakland’s Seth Roberts had fumbled when Seattle led 27-0 in London). Green Bay, meanwhile, didn’t challenge what some thought was a challengeable play — Tyler Lockett’s 34-yard reception in the fourth quarter that set up the Seahawks winning touchdown. The Fox TV crew (Joe Buck/Tony Romo) wondered if maybe Lockett had lost control of the ball as he hit the ground. Green Bay didn’t challenge, in part because the Packers had just one time out remaining.
WHAT I SAID: That Pete Carroll prime time magic.
WHAT HAPPENED: It lived up to its rep on this night as the Seahawks rallied from an early 11-point deficit, looking as limp as overcooked spaghetti, before coming to life in the second quarter and rallying for the win. Seattle is now 24-5-1 under Carroll on prime time,
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Seattle’s pass rush.
The Seahawks had more than three sacks in only two games all season (against Dallas and Oakland) before erupting for five against Green Bay, four in the second half, one coming on a third down play at the Seattle 12 on the Packers’ second-to-last series by rookie Rasheem Green. “I was wondering when Rasheem Green made his sack (if) he was thinking, ‘hey, I just sacked Aaron Rodgers,’’’ Carroll said later. “He’s watched him play since he was a kid.’’ All that mattered Thursday was getting the sack, one of four by the defensive line in the game.
WILD CARD PLAYER WHO COULD SURPRISE
WHAT I SAID: Right guard D.J. Fluker.
WHAT HAPPENED: Fluker and the OL had another solid overall game with the Seahawks rushing for 173 yards. Wilson was sacked three times but that seemed at least a push given that Green Bay plays in an aggressive style that meant the Packers came into the game with an NFL-high 31 sacks coming into the game — Seattle took advantage of that aggression on its final touchdown, correctly reading that the Packers were ready to blitz and Wilson throwing a “hot read’’ pass to Ed Dickson for a 15-yard TD. Seattle did have five false starts, four on the offense, which led to an angry tirade from center Justin Britt after the game. Said Carroll on Friday: “I know Britt went crazy. He’s like trying to make the point to the officials, but I’m not griping about that. That’s just them playing the game and I don’t know that they weren’t doing it exactly. If you say ‘move’ to move your guys, that’s legit. You can do that. It’s just if there’s something else. I don’t know if there was not, but we got to talking about it and it didn’t happen after a while. I know the officials were well aware and they might have warned them or whatever. I don’t know. Again, I can’t document that they did it. That’s kind of what we were griping about at the time. It was kind of a rule number two violation, to tell you the truth.”
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: LB Austin Calitro.
Calitro filled in for K.J. Wright at weakside linebacker and had five tackles and half-a-sack and for now appears to have secured the WLB spot when Wright is out until Mychal Kendricks can come back on Dec. 10 against Minnesota.
WHAT I SAID: 50-0, Seattle’s record when leading by four or more at halftime since 2012.
WHAT HAPPENED: Seattle didn’t lead by four or more at halftime so this became irrelevant. Instead, Seattle pulled off only its second rally this season when trailing at halftime and also only its second win this season in a game decided by a possession (the win at Arizona accounted for each of the previous occurrences).
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Minus-one.
Seattle won the game despite going a third straight game without creating a turnover — the Seahawks have just one interception in their last five games after getting nine in the first five games — while losing a fumble. It was the first time this season Seattle won a game when it did not win the turnover battle (Seattle had been 4-1 when winning the TO battle and 0-4 when tied or losing it before Thursday).
THE FINAL WORD
WHAT I SAID: Seahawks 27, Packers 17.
WHAT HAPPENED: Well, pretty close to what I wrote, if nowhere near in the manner that I expected. I sorta thought Seattle would come out on fire and playing with a razor’s edge and all those other clichés to indicate a team ready to go. The Seahawks instead came out showing as much life as an elementary school kid on the first day of school following Christmas break. But then the alarm went off and the Seahawks got what, all things considered, was their biggest win of the season.