Packers’ running game stumbles against Seahawks in opener

Sep 4, 2014, 10:47 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2014, 6:01 pm
Packers running back Eddie Lacy was limited to 34 yards on 12 carries and suffered a concussion. (A...
Packers running back Eddie Lacy was limited to 34 yards on 12 carries and suffered a concussion. (AP)

If the Packers are to meet the Seahawks again in the postseason like many have predicted, it’s going to take a much more robust running game than the one they trotted out Thursday night.

The Packers managed just 80 yards on the ground in their 36-16 loss to the defending Super Bowl champs, and only 53 came after their opening drive. To make matters worse, starting running back Eddie Lacy (34 yards, 12 carries) left the game in the second half with a concussion – his second in as many seasons – making him questionable for at least next week’s game against the Jets.

As far as Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy was concerned, the biggest issue in the Packers’ loss was pretty cut and dry – the running game on both sides of the ball.

“As far as coming in here and playing the style of football game that we (sought), we did not accomplish that by any means,” he said. “It started with running the football. We were not quite where we needed to be there, and (we) definitely did not stop the run.”

“They did a good job at (stopping the run),” added Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 189 yards, one touchdown and an interception. “They played a couple of defenses. There was a lot of one-eye and getting a seventh person in the box in their sub-personal. There is a free guy at times in those situations and they tackle well. There weren’t a lot of broken tackles for us (or) big plays.”

More coverage of the Seahawks’ Week-1 win over Green Bay

Recap | Stats | Photos | Interviews | Carroll Show
O’Neil: What We Learned
O’Neil: Lynch, Harvin spark Seahawks’ offense
Henderson: Avril, Bennett supply the pressure
Henderson: Packers steer clear of Sherman
Moore: Seahawks looked unstoppable

Seattle clearly didn’t have the same difficulties carrying the ball, with Marshawn Lynch (110 yards) leading a 207-yard effort.

“They ran the ball, they ran it well. It’s obviously the starting point of their offense. Marshawn had a huge night,” McCarthy said. “The action and plays off of that were effective and they were able to hit some down-field throws. But to me it really started with the run game.”

Lacy’s injury happened late enough that it didn’t have much of an impact on the end result, but the same can’t be said for the loss of offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. He sprained his left knee – the same knee that sustained a torn ACL last season – in the second quarter, and Seattle’s defensive front had a noticeable advantage in the second half.

“It changed a couple things,” McCarthy said of Bulaga’s injury. “We really had to kinda flip our plan based on what they were doing. We got caught a couple times in some uphill situations as far as in the way the protection was set.”

The two most obvious instances of that: Cliff Avril’s sack on fourth-and-5 midway through the third quarter, and Michael Bennett’s strip-sack on the Packers’ next drive that resulted in a safety.

No testing of Sherman

A very notable stat stuck out at the end of the Packers’ loss: zero passes directed at Richard Sherman.

The Packers are hardly the first team to shy away from Seattle’s All-Pro cornerback, but it was perhaps surprising considering the stars of Green Bay’s offense, which includes a former MVP in Rodgers and talented wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Then again, it could be the ultimate sign of respect.

Whatever the case, the Packers didn’t make too much about staying away from Sherman.

“It’s matchups, and obviously we liked the matchup on the other side,” said Nelson, who led all receivers with 83 yards on nine catches.

Cobb, who reeled in six receptions for 58 yards, said the execution was lacking no matter if they were avoiding Sherman.

“We had opportunities; we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities,” he said. “Regardless of where he is on the field – yeah, he is a good player and will make plays – but we have to be better.”

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