Grey Area: Packers’ challenge even tougher in rematch with Seahawks
On Sept. 4, 2014, the Green Bay Packers came to Seattle loaded up as a contender in the NFC and took on the Seahawks to start the NFL season. It’s didn’t go well for the Green and Gold.
The Seahawks offense outgained the Packers by 143 yards and held an almost seven minute advantage in time of possession that night. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 189 yards with an 81.5 QB Rating and managed to throw one more interception than passes in Richard Sherman’s direction. Eddie Lacy, the defending 2013 NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, ran for 34 yards on 12 carries and made the mistake of going head to head with Kam Chancellor.
Defensively, the Pack gave up 207 yards on the ground, with four different players contributing and Marshawn Lynch getting the season started with 110 yards at 5.5 yards per carry. Russell Wilson had a very Russell Wilson-like game, going 19-28 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and a QB Rating of 110.9.
By all measures the first game between the Packers and the Seahawks was one-sided, and Green Bay lost that game by 20.
On Jan. 18 the Packers will return as the No. 2 seed in the NFC to take on the Seahawks with the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. What should Green Bay expect the second time around?
For the rematch Green Bay will again be charged with finding a way to move the ball and score points on a Seahawks defense that’s held on to its spot as the best in football, but it will do so without a healthy Aaron Rodgers. The most important player (person?) in all of Wisconsin continues to play while hobbled with a calf injury that has limited his time in two different games.
Adding insult to injury, Rodgers also enters the game with the expectation of throwing at least one ball in the direction of No. 25 this time around, and we all know how that ends. This time around, Eddie Lacy and the Packers run game will have to yoke up even more of the offense given Rodgers’ injury status after having only 80 yards worth of luck when their QB had his full scrambling ability. If the vaunted Green Bay offense was outmatched in the first contest, the challenge is considerably tougher in the sequel.
Defensively, the Packers won’t have to account for Percy Harvin as they did in the first game (Harvin ran for 41 yards and led all Seahawks receivers with 59), but they will face Russell Wilson coming off of his greatest postseason performance and a balanced Seahawks attack. Green Bay’s 23rd-ranked rush defense will still need answers for the Seahawks running game and Marshawn Lynch, who is lurking in the Hawks backfield. Much like Eddie Lacy and the Packers run game, the Green Bay defense will not only need answers to the questions left behind in the wake of their September loss but the additional responsibility of not putting their injured field general in bad positions with mistakes.
By every measure the Packers face a tougher task in their second trip to Seattle, and if they want to write a different ending they’ll have to do so with fewer weapons and infinitely more on the line.