SEATTLE — Aaron Rodgers looks ready for the regular season right now.
The Green Bay Packers’ defense and special teams, not so much.
In the Packers’ 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, Rodgers and the offensive starters turned in another near-perfect performance in preseason game No. 2. The Packers’ starting quarterback played just two series but led a pair of touchdown drives and retired to the bench after just one quarter of work on a perfect summer night for football at Qwest Field.
Last week, Rodgers opened the preseason by completing 12 of 13 passes for 159 yards while leading touchdown drives on two of the four series he played against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. He began in similar fashion against the new-look Seahawks under first-year coach Pete Carroll and first-year General Manager John Schneider, the De Pere native and former Packers personnel analyst.
On his first play, Rodgers ran a play-action, rolled to his right and unleashed a bomb that receiver Greg Jennings played beautifully after beating safety Earl Thomas for a 56-yard gain. That set the tone for Rodgers’ brief but effective stint. He completed eight of 11 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
“We just wanted to take a shot early,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at halftime. “We wanted to try to get out in front of them. Offensively, I really like the way the first offensive unit is playing. The protection was good, the run blocking was good, and Aaron and the perimeter group have been on target so far through training camp. We just wanted to be a little aggressive and really run our offense.”
Halfway through the preseason, Rodgers has a passer rating of 153.99. The highest possible rating is 158.3.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Rodgers said at halftime. “But I think we’re doing some good things. They key for me is just discipline and getting us in a good situation (at the line of scrimmage).”
Rodgers, who put up similar numbers last preseason, hit three receivers on the opening drive. After the deep throw to Jennings, he converted a third-and-8 from Seahawks’ 13 with a 12-yard completion to tight end Jermichael Finley on a stop route. On the next play, fullback John Kuhn caught a 1-yard touchdown. Rodgers’ only incompletion on that drive was a tipped pass.
On his second series, Rodgers kept the drive alive early by getting a first down with his feet when he scrambled for 3 yards on third-and-2. He then went back to his new favorite target, Finley. The third-year tight end caught three passes for 12 yards each, the third of which was a touchdown in which he was basically uncovered even after Carroll called a timeout before the play. Finley finished with four catches for 48 yards in one quarter of action.
“He’s tough to guard,” Rodgers said of Finley. “He’s a great player. He’s going to be a big part of our offense. Anytime I get the ball, I’ll look for him.”
Said Finley: “I feel like the offense can score when we want to. That’s the kind of swagger we have to have coming into the season. We have to know we can score every time we touch the ball, and that’s what we need to do.”
Even with all of that, the game was tied 14-14 when backup quarterback Matt Flynn took over in the second quarter. That’s because Dom Capers’ No. 1 defense was ineffective for the second straight week, and Shawn Slocum’s special teams gave up a couple of lengthy kickoff returns.
Flynn led the offense to one first-half score, a 34-yard Mason Crosby field goal, and the Packers led 17-14 at the half. They botched another potential scoring chance at the end of the second quarter. They couldn’t get lined up in time to spike the ball, which would have allowed Crosby to try about a 41-yard field goal on the last play. An illegal snap with 1 second to go automatically ended the half.
Maybe the defensive issues were due to a vanilla scheme and a bevy of injuries at linebacker, but Seahawks veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck picked on second-year cornerback Brandon Underwood, who started in place of Charles Woodson (who was held out for precautionary reasons) and also was able to draw penalties against cornerbacks Tramon Williams (pass interference) and Pat Lee (illegal contact). The defense gave up 159 yards in 24 plays in the first half.
The Packers didn’t sack Hasselbeck, although linebacker Desmond Bishop came close, and Hasselbeck completed 11 of 15 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 120.7.
“We were pleased with the way we came out and started with everybody playing their role and doing their assignments, and we got that three-and-out,” safety Nick Collins said. “We know that all of our players aren’t here, so we got some of our backup guys some work, and that’s going to make us even stronger. We’ve just got to focus a little more, clean up the penalties and keep playing.”
The special teams killed whatever momentum Rodgers established after the first scoring drive gave the Packers a 7-0 lead. Seattle’s Josh Wilson took Crosby’s kickoff 3 yards into the end zone and returned it 54 yards to the Packers’ 49, setting up Seattle’s first touchdown. The Packers also gave up a 30-yard kickoff return to Cord Parks.
GB_Kuhn 1 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 11:15.
Sea_Branch 11 pass from Hasselbeck (Stitser kick), 8:32.
GB_Finley 12 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 1:36.
Sea_Washington 11 run (Stitser kick), 12:51.
GB_FG Crosby 34, 9:50.
Sea_Obomanu 3 pass from Whitehurst (Stitser kick), 4:16.
Sea_FG Stitser 35, 13:21.
GB_FG Crosby 51, 8:26.
GB_Jackson 12 run (Crosby kick), 3:34.
|Total Net Yards||421||272|
|Time of Possession||35:25||24:35|
RUSHING_Green Bay, Jackson 11-80, Kuhn 6-30, Porter 9-27, Grant 5-19, Flynn 3-19, Rodgers 1-3, G.Harrell 4-(minus 4). Seattle, Washington 4-19, Obomanu 1-17, Jones 5-14, Forsett 5-13, Whitehurst 1-7, Ganther 2-5.
PASSING_Green Bay, Flynn 10-20-1-130, Rodgers 8-11-0-116, G.Harrell 1-1-0-23. Seattle, Hasselbeck 11-15-0-127, Whitehurst 9-20-2-73.
RECEIVING_Green Bay, Finley 4-48, Nelson 3-39, Swain 2-34, Jennings 1-56, West 1-23, P.Williams 1-14, Dillon 1-12, Johnson 1-12, Quarless 1-10, Jackson 1-9, Grant 1-8, J.Jones 1-3, Kuhn 1-1. Seattle, Houshmandzadeh 4-60, Williams 4-44, Butler 2-24, Schmitt 2-14, Jones 2-12, A.McCoy 1-12, Branch 1-11, Tate 1-8, Carlson 1-6, Washington 1-6, Obomanu 1-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.