Seahawks-Packers: What we learned
By Scott Johnson The Sports Xchange SEATTLE -- After closing out last season with the first Super Bowl win in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks didn't show any signs of a letdown Thursday night. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two t...
By Scott Johnson
The Sports Xchange
SEATTLE - After closing out last season with the first Super Bowl win in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t show any signs of a letdown Thursday night.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, the Seattle defense began the second half with two big plays, and the defending champion Seahawks put away the Green Bay Packers 36-16 in the NFL regular-season opener.
“You always want to pick up where you left off,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “We don’t believe in the whole Super Bowl hangover thing.”
Lynch scored from 9 and 3 yards out, with the latter coming on the opening play of the fourth quarter to cap off 12 unanswered points coming out of halftime.
After skipping the first few days of training camp in a contract dispute and being used sparingly in the preseason, Lynch broke out for his first 100-yard regular-season game since Week 11 of 2013. The 28-year-old running back carried the ball 20 times Thursday.
The Seahawks became the first defending Super Bowl champion to open with a victory since 2011, when the Packers beat the New Orleans Saints on a Thursday. The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, the past two Super Bowl winners, lost their openers the past two years.
Wilson threw for two touchdowns while completing 19 of 28 passes for 191 yards. Wide receiver Percy Harvin caught seven passes for 59 yards and added 41 yards on four rushes.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 23 of 33 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, but he also had a costly interception on the Packers’ first offensive play of the second half. His first pass after halftime went off the hand of intended receiver Jordy Nelson and into the hands of Seattle cornerback Byron Maxwell, setting up a field goal for a 20-10 lead.
“I’ve got to make that play,” Nelson said. “It was a big change in the game. It was an opportunity to make a big play, and I didn’t do it.”
Said Rodgers of the interception: “I missed my spot by about a foot.”
Packers running back Eddie Lacy gained 34 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a possible concussion. Lacy was wearing sunglasses inside the locker room and was not made available to reporters. He is likely to undergo further tests in the next few days.
The Seahawks pulled away from a 17-10 halftime lead with two key defensive plays in the third quarter. Maxwell’s interception led to a Steven Hauschka 20-yard field goal, and then defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s sack and forced fumble resulted in a safety for a 22-10 Seattle lead.
Bennett rushed past right tackle Derek Sherrod, who was filling in for injured starter Bryan Bulaga, and blindsided Rodgers at the Green Bay 10-yard line. Rodgers fumbled the ball into the end zone, where Sherrod recovered for a safety.
“I just wanted to make a big play,” Bennett said.
Lynch then put the game away with his second touchdown for a 29-10 advantage.
What the Packers said
“Our fundamental inconsistencies throughout the game coincided with timely penalties to combat the momentum swings. We were not able to swing it back tonight. It was a hard loss, a hard defeat.” - Coach Mike McCarthy
“That wasn’t our defense out there. We’ve got to figure out what we did out there, because that’s not acceptable.” - MLB Brad Jones
“We got outmanned across the board. We have to do better. We had the opportunities, and we didn’t get it done.” - WR Randall Cobb
What the Seahawks said
“Marshawn (Lynch) ran great. He’s looked so good all the way through training camp, and he just showed it tonight.” - Coach Pete Carroll
“All they’re doing is driving (CB Byron) Maxwell’s purse up. The more they challenge him, the more money he’s going to make. That’s what you want is to be challenged, and he stepped up to the challenge.” - DE Michael Bennett
“We finished the game really strong. The best part of the game was that seven-minute drive to end the game. That’s how we have to play great football.” - QB Russell Wilson
What we learned about the Packers
1. Green Bay’s defense still has a long way to go. After a solid preseason, the Packers had no answers for the Seahawks on Thursday night. The loss of DT B.J. Raji might be more difficult to overcome than the Packers let on.
2. The Packers’ offensive line is on the verge of being in a state of disarray - again. Injuries at center left rookie G Corey Linsley to start Thursday’s game - he did a solid job, especially when considering the circumstances - and RT Bryan Bulaga sustained another injury to his left knee in the first half. Derek Sherrod filled in for Bulaga in Thursday’s second half, when Sherrod gave up a critical sack and fumble that resulted in a safety.
What we learned about the Seahawks
1. Having a healthy WR Percy Harvin makes the Seattle offense a lot more fun to watch. That was true during the Super Bowl, and Harvin picked up right where he left off with seven receptions and four carries for 100 yards of total offense Thursday. The thought of seeing Harvin over a full 16-game schedule has to strike fear in upcoming defensive opponents.
2. The secondary is still the strength of the team, but it is not as deep as it was in 2013. The Packers continually targeted CB Byron Maxwell and nickel back Jeremy Lane, steering clear of Pro Bowler Richard Sherman while finding some success. A lot of that had to do with QB Aaron Rodgers, but the losses of CBs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond III could end up being a factor.
-RB Eddie Lacy got off to a good start Thursday but was a non-factor in the Packers’ 36-16 loss to Seattle. He had 34 rushing yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with a possible concussion early in the fourth quarter. His status likely will be evaluated in the coming days, and the Packers could benefit from the long layoff before Week 2.
-FB John Kuhn scored two touchdowns in the past three regular-season games dating back to last season. His Week 16 touchdown last year was the only one he scored all season. Kuhn recorded the first TD of the 2014 season on a 2-yard run in the first quarter Thursday at Seattle.
-RT Bryan Bulaga left Thursday’s game with a second-quarter knee injury and did not return. Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee - the same knee he hurt Thursday. Bulaga was walking without a noticeable limp after the game, and coach Mike McCarthy said, “The trainer told me: ‘We do not fear it’s a major injury.’“
-RT Derek Sherrod struggled after replacing RF Bryan Bulaga in Thursday’s second quarter. He gave up a critical sack that resulted in a fumble and a safety shortly after halftime. “I’m just shaking it off and preparing for the next game,” he said. “I can’t do anything about (Thursday’s performance) right now; I just have to go and get prepared for the next game.”
-C Corey Linsley made his first start after being forced into the starting role by injuries, and the rookie fifth-round draft pick didn’t get overwhelmed. “I think I did a decent job for my first start,” he said, “but obviously that remains to be seen.”
-WR Percy Harvin had 100 yards of offense Thursday night, when he showed his full array of skills as both a receiver and runner. He caught a team-high seven passes for 59 yards and added 41 yards on four carries. “He can do so many things,” QB Russell Wilson said.
-RB Marshawn Lynch seems to have rebuked the myth about training-camp holdouts and feature backs. After missing the first few days of camp in a contract dispute and being used sparingly in the preseason, Lynch made his regular-season debut a memorable one with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns Thursday night in the Seahawks’ win over Green Bay.
-CB Richard Sherman could be in for a quiet season. After leading the NFC with nine interceptions last year, Sherman didn’t see much action in Thursday’s opener. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers avoided throwing to his side, which says a lot about Sherman’s reputation as a cover corner but does very little for his stat line.
-DE Michael Bennett emerged as a big-time pass rusher down the stretch of last season, and he picked up right where he left off Thursday night. Bennett had a momentum-swinging sack in the third quarter, resulting in a fumble and a safety. “I just wanted to make a big play,” he said.