In a game that should answer whether Seattle can win tough games on the road in 2013, the Seahawks lost a little of their luster.
“We played good and hard football,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “And we did a lot of good things in the game, but the distractions of giving up (182) yards in penalties is ridiculously hard to deal with and still feel like you played well.” In nearly every phase, the Seahawks have simply been impressive. While it is preseason, the Seahawks are 3-0 with nearly a 20 point per game differential in 2013. This preseason includes games against both Denver at home, and now Green Bay on the Road. So far this preseason, the Seahawks have been undeniable as a team with Super Bowl “feel”, especially after beating their first two preseason opponents by a combined score of 71-20. Big plays propelled Seattle last week to a 40-10 win with the Broncos. But penalties weighed down both teams on a warm evening, especially the visiting Seahawks. They had twice as many penalties (six) as points in a chippy first half.
Wilson looked crisp in the opening series against the Packers’ first-string defense in the first quarter, guiding Seattle to the 9 yard line by gaining chunks of yardage on long pass plays, but running back Robert Turbin was stuffed on first down. Then, the 5-foot-10 Turbin did not look good trying to block a thundering 6-foot-3 linebacker Clay Matthews, who sacked Wilson off the edge. Seattle settled for a 27-yard field goal to take the lead
Rodgers went into the game knowing he would play only the first quarter, even though in preseason game No. 3 last year at Cincinnati he played the entire first half.
But when the Seahawks’ opening drive lasted 7 minutes and 32 seconds, McCarthy opted not to adjust his plan. So after Rodgers got the Packers into field-goal range, and they capped off the 11-play, 52 yards drive that took 4:21, that was the end of the night for Rodgers even though some of the starters, including the entire offensive line, finished the first half.
“They had the 7½-minute drive, so Mike made the decision one drive and out,” said Rodgers, who completed 4-of-7 passes for 41 yards.
Rodgers also has been on a snap count in practice for the first time in his career. “I’ll make sure my conditioning is where it needs to be for the first game, and we’ll be fine,” Rodgers said. Rogers finished the night after that first drive, which included a 22 yard completion to TE Jermichael Finley.
Tied up, the game became a defensive struggle and there were the penalties that are alarming, considering this was the game that typically sees the most playing time by the projected starters. Wilson had two passes picked off in the second quarter — one on a throw that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and the other when he tried to hit Doug Baldwin deep. The Seahawks didn’t get farther than the Green Bay 45-yard line the rest of the first half.
Wilson, who played one series in the third quarter before leaving, was sacked three times. He had been sacked only once in the first two games.
“They really came after us tonight,’’ Carroll said. “Probably more than we had anticipated, and we didn’t spend a lot of time (preparing for the Packers) and we were behind on some of the pressures and we didn’t pick up some things tonight as well as we have. It was a good test for us. But I’m not concerned about it in the long haul.’’
It was still 3-3 when Christine Michael took a hand-off and darted through a big hole and down the right sideline, using a down-field block from receiver Jermaine Kearse to spring into the end zone to put Seattle ahead 10-3 with 9:38 left in the third quarter.
Michael, Seattle’s top pick in the 2013 draft in the second round out of Texas A&M, finished with a game-high 97 yards on 11 carries and also had one catch for 25 yards. Michael had 89 yards in Seattle’s opening win at San Diego before missing last week’s game against Denver due to back spasms.
“Both games he has played in he has been a factor, and he looked very good tonight,’’ Carroll said.
Said Michael: “I was anxious to play. Last week unfortunately I couldn’t and this game I was happy to be back out there and my body felt well. … The offensive line did an amazing job and I am starting to trust those guys a lot more and be more patient in the run game.”
Green Bay tied it on its next drive when quarterback Vince Young led an 80-yard march that was capped by a 1-yard scoring pass to fullback Jonathan Amosa, who played at Washington and is a graduate of Rainier Beach High School.
Penalties and sacks helped kill Seattle’s next two drives before Michael again made the highlight reel. First, Michael turned a one-handed grab into a 25-yard gain to take the ball to the Green Bay 42.
On the next play, Seahawks quarterback Brady Quinn lofted the ball deep down the right sideline into the end zone, where the 6-foot-5 free agent Stephen Williams reached over Green Bay cornerback Loyce Means to score the touchdown. It was Williams’ team-high third touchdown reception of the exhibition season, all on plays of 38 yards or longer. “He has really made a big statement for himself,” Carroll said of Williams, whom Seattle signed in January.
Said Williams: “The game was tied and we needed a big offensive play. (Quinn) looked at me like, ‘I’m going to throw you the ball, we need a touchdown.’ ”
Safety Winston Guy then forced a fumble as Green Bay threatened to score on its next drive, Benson Mayowa recovering at the 13-yard line, and the Seahawks were able to walk away with another win, despite the penalties and turnovers.
“It’s terrific for us to keep learning these lessons when you are winning,’’ said Carroll.
“I think we did a good job of moving the ball overall”, explained Russell Wilson in a post game interview. “And then we got a lot of penalties and it kept pushing us back. We can’t play like that. If we want to be a championship team, if we want to accomplish great things, especially against a team like Green Bay, so we have to fix that, that’s our number one thing. ” Wilson elaborated further, “About the turnovers, that’s not something I can allow to have happen ever. So that’s my focus. I think it was a good learning experience for us – getting out on the road and winning a close game.”
“The biggest expectation for me this year is helping to win at all cost and putting us in a good situation to win. I have to make the plays when we need them. I need to make the plays on third downs and in the red zone. We just need to stay on schedule and if we do that, I think we’ll be able to play at a high level.”
Despite shooting itself in the foot with two turnovers and suffering four sacks, the offense directed two long scoring drives and consistent play by the defense, helped Seattle overcome 14 penalties and 182 penalty yards.
“We played good and hard football,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “And we did a lot of good things in the game, but the distractions of giving up (182) yards in penalties is ridiculously hard to deal with and feel like you played well.” Seattle has had 34 penalties enforced against it in three games, and Carroll called it “an area we’ve got to get cleaned up. We have our guys so jacked up about trying to do right that they are over trying at times,” Carroll said, adding that he thinks it’s “very fixable.”
Perhaps memories of last year’s meeting between the teams sparked the pushing and shoving that marked much of the evening. The game on Sept. 24 ended with Golden Tate’s disputed touchdown catch after tussling for the ball with Packers safety M.D. Jennings that was upheld on review by replacement officials. That moment will forever be remembered as the tipping point that got the regular officials back on the field. Tate didn’t do much in limited time at Lambeau. He caught one pass for 4 yards, and was booed by the Packers faithful after being announced as the punt returner over the stadium loudspeakers. Asked if there was any carry-over from last year’s game, Jennings said: “I can’t speak for anyone else. Last year was last year. The only thing is we showed up tonight to play Packer football.”
When the smoke cleared, the Seahawks persevered. The Seahawks rushed for 166 yards on the night, and averaged over 6 yards per carry. The Seahawks continue to impress on defense, holding a very good Packer offense to just 201 yards for the evening.
If game three was the tune up game for the starters, the last remaining bit of work is penalties, turnovers, and red zone offense.
Seattle is now a winner in it’s last 8 preseason games.
Written by: @milroyigglesfan