The Green Bay Packers hosted the NFC Divisional Round Playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay managed to advance in the NFL Playoffs with a 28-23 victory. Here is the full Packers vs Seahawks recap.
Green Bay’s offense began with the football and made an immediate impact with a 23-yard run from Aaron Jones. The very next play, Aaron Rodgers ran a bootleg and found Davante Adams for a 1st-down. In this contest, it would become a common sight to see a quarterback run or throw from outside the pocket.
Jimmy Graham kept the chains moving with a big reception on 3rd-and-8. The former Seahawks tight end finished the game second on Green Bay in targets, receptions and receiving yards and came up with key plays.
One Packers player absent from this match was Bryan Bulaga. An illness was going through the Green Bay locker room last week. While it affected mostly reserves, Bulaga was the only starter not active. In his place, Jared Veldheer got the nod at right tackle. Initially, there was a bit of a struggle as Jadeveon Clowney beat Veldheer off the edge on a 2nd-and-3 play. Clowney got into the backfield and stuffed Aaron Jones for a 4-yard loss.
Now facing a 3rd-and-7 inside the red zone, suddenly an impactful moment was about to occur. The Packers opened the scoring as Adams produced a 20-yard receiving touchdown. Operating 1-on-1 on the outside, Adams faked as if he was going to run a slant. He then cut back out and ran a wide-open go route. Rodgers found him in stride and Green Bay took an early 7-0 lead. Mason Crosby‘s Point After Attempt was successful, thanks to a great hold by J.K. Scott. That would not be Scott’s only significant contribution.
Over the next 4 possessions, both teams combined for 29 yards and 4 punts. Three of those four drives were 3-and-outs. If you were looking for rookie jitters, you found some in Elgton Jenkins. The Packers’ starting left guard was making his NFL playoff debut. On only the second Green Bay drive of the game, Jenkins got beat bad by Quinton Jefferson. Because of this, Aaron Rodgers was forced to rush his throw and it fell incomplete.
A few plays later, J.K. Scott came out to punt. On both of these 1st-quarter 3-and-outs, Scott sent punts of 55 and 46 yards respectively. Credit to the Green Bay coverage on Special teams as the 55-yard punt that ended as a fair catch. Credit also goes to Scott who had the distance to kick from his own end-zone to the Seattle 33 yard-line and had enough hang time to allow the coverage team to get down.
Eventually, the Seahawks got on the scoreboard. This was possible because Russell Wilson found Tyler Lockett open downfield for a 28-yard play. However, over the next three snaps, Seattle could only move the football an additional 4 yards. Jason Myers came out to kick a 45-yard field goal and the score became 7-3 Packers.
Answering the Call
One theme found throughout this game was a team responding to an opponent scoring. After the Seahawks’ field goal, the Packers produced points of their own. Their drive began with 3 straight receptions for Davante Adams that all went for 1st-downs. Most of these were shorter routes and quicker throws, where Adams gained yards after the catch. This made for an easier pass-protection situation for Jared Veldheer working against Jadeveon Clowney.
Eventually, the Packers ended up on the goal-line by methodically moving the football. This possession lasted over 5-and-a-half minutes, Green Bay’s longest of the game. The Packers offensive line had been a strong unit all year, and they did not fail the team in this instance. Elgton Jenkins and Corey Linsley created a crease for Aaron Jones to run through and get to the end zone. Jenkins got such a push that he ended up occupying enough space to prevent two players from being able to tackle. In fact, Jones ran into Jenkins which initially stopped his progress just short of the goal-line. By the running back kept pushing and got into the end zone for the 14-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Russell Wilson began to show just how dangerous he can be as an offensive weapon. First, he demonstrated the arm strength with a 31-yard pass to Tyler Lockett who was open in the Packers zone. Initially covered by Tramon Williams, Lockett was passed off which forced linebacker Blake Martinez to cover him downfield. He was unable to keep up with the speedy receiver and Seattle had the ball at midfield.
The other aspect of Wilson’s game that gives nightmares to defenders is his scrambling ability. There were several instances on this drive where Packers defenders just missed a sack. On one play, Kenny Clark beat his man and got into the backfield for what looked like a sack. However, Wilson escaped and actually gained yards on the play.
Za’Darius Smith did manage to sack Wilson after B.J. Goodson provided pressure and forced Wilson to scramble once again. Only this time, Smith took him down just short of the line of scrimmage. However, on the ensuing 3rd-and-8, Smith just missed an opportunity for back-to-back sacks. With Clark double-teamed and Martinez coming in on a blitz, Smith had a 1-on-1 opportunity but was unable to take Wilson down. The quarterback scrambled and tried to hit Travis Homer but the pass fell incomplete.
Pete Carroll then decided to call out Jason Myers for a 50-yard field goal attempt. While Myers had been steady all season for the Seahawks, the windy Lambeau conditions made this kick more difficult. Meyers missed the 50-yard kick and the Packers took over with great field position.
Since joining the Packers, Tyler Ervin has made his mark on special teams as a returner. In this game, his impact was felt on offense. Matt LaFleur was using Ervin in 2 running back sets but also placed him in different spots in the formation. For instance, on the first play from scrimmage after the missed field goal, Ervin was lined up as a tight end. As the ball was snapped, Ervin crossed the formation right to left and Aaron Rodgers handed off the football to him. Ervin then ran the end around which gained 18 yards and set up Green Bay on the Seahawks side of half.
A theme that defined this drive was the running back position. In his NFL Playoff debut, rookie Jace Sternberger often operated as a full back and was doing a great job as a lead-blocker. Sternberger even caught his first NFL pass on this drive.
However, this possession, and frankly this entire game, was all about Aaron Jones. He received 21 of the Packers’ 25 running back carries. Jones also capped off this 1st-half with his second touchdown of the game. The 1-yard score featured great blocking by the Green Bay offensive line. But also, Marcedes Lewis contributed by setting the edge and allowed Jones to get into the end zone. While he did not register a catch or even see a target in this game, Lewis was instrumental in helping the Packers score on that 3rd-and-1 play.
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Wilson, Wake Up
Armed with 1:30 of game clock remaining in the 1st-half and down 21-3, the Seahawks needed their quarterback to come alive. Receptions by Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf set up Seattle around midfield. They were well within Russell Wilson’s range to take a Hail Marry shot at the end zone. Typically this is something that the Packers attempt on offense. This time they had to defend it, and defend it they did. The football soared toward the back of the end zone. Adrian Amos got in position and jumped to elevate himself above all others. Amos knocked down the pass as the half ended with an 18-point Packers lead.
Wilson truly woke up and elevated his game after halftime as his team began with the football following the break. An immediate 3rd-and-down was converted thanks to Wilson’s legs as the quarterback scrambled for a team-high 22-yard run play. Afterward, Metcalf set up the Seahawks in the red zone with a 24-yard reception from Wilson.
Over the next few plays, the Packers defense held up and forced Seattle into a 4th-and-1 situation. Once again, Wilson rolled out drawing in defenders. He then found Lockett for the 1st-down reception at the 1-yard line.
Needing only 1 yard, Marshawn Lynch came into the game and powered his way into the end zone. This, in spite of the fact that Kenny Clark got off his block and was right at the goal-line to stop Lynch’s progress. Initially, it worked, but Lynch kept pushing through until he crossed the plane. The score then became 21-10 for the Packers.
Four of the first five drives of the 2nd half ended in touchdowns. After giving up the score to the Seahawks, the Packers put together a possession of their own. It only lasted 5 plays, but Green Bay still managed to add to their lead. Really, it was two plays. On the first, Jimmy Graham was brought in motion from the right side of the line to the line side. He then ran a seam route past K.J. Wright while Aaron Rodgers found him and threw him the 27-yard reception.
Two plays later, Davante Adams got wide open against Trey Flowers. Originally it looked like Adams would be running a crossing route out of the slot. Instead, he created separation by making a break for the sideline. After catching the ball, Adams realized that the deep middle of the field was unprotected. The receiver then cut back towards the middle and outraced Flower to the end zone. Adams completed the 40-yard play for his second touchdown of the day and gave the Packers a 28-10 lead.
However, the Seahawks resiliency was on display for the remainder of the game. They responded to that Adams score with a very long drive; 6-and-a-half minutes to be exact. Russell Wilson produced the initial 1st-down on the ground. It became apparent during this possession that several Green Bay defenders were wearing down from having to chase Wilson around play after play. Over a 7-play stretch, Seattle gained 5 separate 1st-downs. By the time that Wilson scrambled around to find Lockett in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown, the Packers defense was drained. Suddenly, the team was only up 28-17, and the offense needed a drive to help their defense.
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Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Packers went 3-and-out. This in spite of the fact that Aaron Jones gained 8 yards on 1st-down. A tackle for loss by Bradley McDougald followed by great coverage by Bobby Wagner on Adams led to another J.K. Scott punt.
With the momentum now fully on their side, the Seahawks took advantage. Right out on the gate on this drive, Wilson found Lockett for a 19-yard reception. Two plays later, Seattle gained another 1st-down thanks to D.K. Metcalf getting open on a slant route against Jaire Alexander. Two plays after that, Wilson hit Jacob Hollister on a 19-yard pass play. Finally, Wilson somehow completed a pass just as he was about to get sandwiched between Kenny Clark and Preston Smith. Wilson found Travis Hommer in the flat who achieved the 1st-down after the catch and set up Seattle in a 1st-and-goal situation.
Marshawn Lynch almost scored on the 1st-and-goal attempt from the 5-yard line. Instead, he got the team to the 1. On the ensuing rushing attempt, Lynch powered through both Kenny Clark and Za’Darius Smith to find the end zone. Down 28-23, the Seahawks chose to go for the 2-point conversion. Jaire Alexander came on a safety blitz to sack Wilson and maintain the 5-point lead. While he certainly deserves credit for scoring the touchdown, Lynch completely missed Alexander on that blitz pick up.
The Packers got the ball back with well over half a quarter left in regulation. Seattle defense forced a second straight punt, only this was not a 3-and-out. Green Bay managed to gain a couple of 1st-downs and kill 4:39 of game clock. One monumental play on that drive that deserves exposure is the 3rd-down sack by Shaquem Griffin. Mostly used as a special team player, Griffin is occasionally used in pass-rush packages. He succeeded here is forcing the Packers to punt.
With less than 5 minutes left in the game, and facing a 5-point deficit, the Seahawks controlled their destiny. However, the drive ended with one of the three key 3rd-down plays made by the Packers. On 3rd-and-5, Russell Wilson dropped back. Preston Smith came all the way around the edge of the line to get the sack. It was quite spectacular to watch Smith get around so quickly that Wilson did not have time to escape the pocket. Seattle then chose to punt the football and hope that they got it back.
They were very close. Green Bay was faced with a 3rd-and-8 from their own 22 and on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning. Fail, and the Seahawks would get another chance to win. Instead, Aaron Rodgers made arguably his best throw of the game. On a pass that traveled about 30 yards through the air, Rodgers put it right over Ugo Amadi and right in Davante Adams’ hands. That play was possible because the offensive line protected their quarterback, especially David Bakhtiari who blocked Jadeveon Clowney 1-on-1.
This reception allowed Adams to set a new Packers single-game post-season record of 164 receiving yards. The only aspect to Adams’ catch that did not go as planned was that the receiver was pushed out of bounds, stopping the clock. This forced the Packers to attempt to gain one more 1st-down.
Again, a key 3rd-down left the game in the balance. Aaron Jones successfully picked up the Seattle blitz and gave Rodgers the time he needed to find Jimmy Graham underneath. While not a long throw, it was still impressive on Rodgers’ part considering that K.J. Wright was right in his face after beating Corey Linsley off the line of scrimmage. Graham caught the pass but was short of the 1st-down marker. He stumbled and got taken down right at the line to gain. On the field, it was called a 1st-down and a review could not overturn the decision. This allowed Green Bay to kneel down and kill the remaining game clock.
At the end of an intense Divisional Round game, it was three 3rd-down plays that made the difference. With the 28-23 victory, the Packers advance to the NFC Championship game to face the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, the Seahawks season ends with a Divisional Round loss.