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Defense eventually contains Seahawks' Wilson

Aug. 23, 2013
 

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Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the first quarter of a preseason game at Lambeau Field on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media

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On Friday night, you couldn’t blame Green Bay fans who may have been flashing back to 2011, when the Packers’ defense gave up more than 400 yards per game and was gashed by the New York Giants 37-20 in the playoffs.

Against the Seattle Seahawks in their third preseason game, the Packers’ first-team defense looked a lot like that sieve-like unit. On the first drive alone, it gave up six plays of 10 yards or more. That 12-play 71-yard possession ended with a 27-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.

The Seahawks’ second drive started promising for the Packers when middle linebacker Brad Jones blitzed and sacked quarterback Russell Wilson for a 9-yard loss. But Seattle responded with a 23-yard screen pass from Wilson to Marshawn Lynch and a 14-yard run by Robert Turbin.

But that’s when the Packers’ defense stiffened and contained Wilson and Seattle’s talented backfield the rest of the first half, allowing only two more first downs.

It was Wilson’s mobility, for the most part, that gave the Packers fits. On the game’s first play, the former University of Wisconsin quarterback scrambled for 13 yards. Then he connected with tight end Sean McGrath for 11 yards. Before the drive was over, Wilson had completed passes of 17 and 27 yards.

“From the look of it, you know, he’s gonna get his plays,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said of Wilson. “From the simple fact that he can make some plays happen with his feet. Aside from that, we’ll take a look and correct it, but we were able to stop him when it counted down in the red zone and force him to kick points.”

Matthews played a large role in keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone on that first drive. His 12-yard sack of Wilson on second-and-goal from the 9 pushed Seattle back to the 21.

“Obviously that was a big emphasis for us last year and even more so this year, is limiting his ability to create plays by running out of the pocket,” Matthews said. “He’s going to make his plays, but I felt for the most part, not only myself, but as a rushing unit, we did a good job of keeping him bottled up in the pocket, forcing some errant throws and getting after him.”

Interceptions by Casey Hayward and Jerron McMillian ended consecutive possessions in the second quarter. Hayward’s interception came about after linebacker Nick Perry tipped Wilson’s pass at the line and linebacker Robert Francois kept the ball alive for Hayward to cradle.

“I knew he was coming to my side to throw the ball,” Perry said. “My reaction was to just throw my hands up and keep him contained. It played out well. I was able to get my hand on it and we got the interception.”

Hayward didn’t practice all training camp until this week because of a hamstring injury, which he aggravated Friday night.

“It was good to see, you know, obviously he’s continuing his playmaking ability from last year,” Matthews said of Hayward. “It was good to have him back out there.”

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