In the 2014 NFC Championship game, Russell Wilson threw four interceptions. The Seahawks came to life in the fourth quarter and won the game in overtime on a walkout touchdown.
In frigid Green Bay this past week, Wilson threw five interceptions. Two were directly the result of either overthrowing or under throwing his receivers. The other three were extra wonky bounce passes reminiscent of the 2014 NFCCG. The running game worked well enough, but was all but abandoned in the third quarter as the ‘Hawks feel behind by 25 points.
It started off with a 67 yard catch and go score from Davonte Adams off of a broken tackle and loft pass from Aaron Rodgers. The ‘Hawks would get down the field on the next drive, but settle for a FG. Wilson would be intercepted on the next play, and Ty Montgomery would rumble in for a rushing TD. A pair of Jordy Nelson scores, one before halftime and one deep in the third quarter threatened to put the game fully out of reach.
With Aaron Rodgers limping most of the game, he threaded passes from the pocket and relentlessly picked on Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. With little pressure coming from the defensive front of Seattle, Rodgers had all day to wait for coverages to come into play down the field. He found them early and often.The defense did manage to sack Rodgers once, but the ‘Pack defense put Wilson on the ground three times. The defensive front of Green Bay consistently hit, hurried, or knocked Wilson down on the majority of his drop backs.
Let’s be honest, by about halfway through the third quarter, many of us who saw replays of the 2014 NFCCG during the game outright believed that a limping Rodgers could make for the second greatest comeback of all time. It was all for naught, as the punts and hits kept coming. By early in the fourth quarter, the ‘Hawks looked like they were remiss to call it a day, before Wilson found Tanner McEvoy for a 21 yard score. A 21 yard rushing TD by Jeff Janis would be the final nail in the coffin.
Whatever defensive communications occurred last week at the Clink versus the Panthers was simply nonexistent in this game. K.J. Wright and Thomas Rawls were both taken down by the turf monster, and the aforementioned struggles of Shead and Lane only compounded things.
The biggest storylines were of course the five INTs by Wilson, but also the consistent pre and post snap scuffles between the teams. Unfortunately, it just looked like Seattle was on the ropes for the majority of the contest. When you add this in with thrown balls literally bouncing off of helmets, pads and players chests, this game demonstrated that the ‘tip drill’ at full speed is not always the ‘Hawks best friend.
Though there were a few bright spots in the outing (like the stability of the running game), the numbers don’t tell such a rosy story. Seattle actually had more first downs than Green Bay did (24-18), but Green Bay had three first downs for penalties, which extended drives and kept the ‘Pack in the drivers seat to burn the clock and move down the field. Seattle rushed for more yards (and narrowly lost the passing game battle) but a lost fumble (and zero for the ‘Pack). Just before the half Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse collided while both going for a pass near the 2 yard line of Green Bay. Wilson would throw another pick on the next pass after narrowly under throwing Doug Baldwin in the end zone.
That really was the pace of the game- Seattle would compile decent drives and squall them away before they could capitalize on them. Rodgers posted a 150.8 passer rating, the highest allowed in the Pete Carroll era, and was 18 for 25 and 237 yards passing, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Wilson went 22 for 39 and 218 yards, with 1 TD and 5 INTs, for (what must be) a career low 43.7 passer rating. It was certainly a game to forget.
After the game, Pete Carrol remarked that: “Steven (Terrell, the free safety playing in place of Earl Thomas now) didn’t have a play to make all night long. The ball never went there.” He followed it up with questions about the field (which was supposed to be kinda like a snow globe. Indeed, 5 inches did fall during the day, but the snow stopped before the game and the field was bare.), saying that “The field was fine… It was a great night to play football. The conditions, we anticipated it was going to be much more challenging than it was. And it wasn’t a problem at all.”
It was a keen move by the veteran coach, deftly deflecting ill placed blame on a backup free safety who had little to do with the damage Green Bay inflicted on the ‘Hawks corners and linebackers. It also demonstrated the resiliency Carroll has and leads the team with. Up next, the ‘Hawks welcome the L.A.Rams at the Clink for Thursday Night Football. The team will be wearing their ‘Color Rush’ jerseys, and looks to regain the #2 seed they lost this weekend by dropping to 8-4-1 (they are currently #3). With the NFC Playoff picture coming clearer into picture with dwindling games, the onus is on the ‘Hawks to win out in an effort to secure a first round bye. The game is at 8:25 PM Thursday night on CBS, the NFL Network, and Twitter.