Insider: Thumbs up to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
This was perhaps the most devastating loss in Packers history.
So many blown chances to put the game away. Up 16-0 with less than 5 minutes left in the third quarter. A muffed onside kick with just more than 2 minutes left in the game. Poor defensive coverage in overtime.
It all added up to a 28-22 loss with Seattle scoring 21 of its points in the final 5½ minutes of the game. The Packers had a chance at their sixth Super Bowl appearance but let it slip away in embarrassing fashion.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made plays all over the field. He intercepted Russell Wilson twice. The first one was on a ball that tipped off the hands of Seattle's Jermaine Kearse, and he returned it 26 yards. But the second was an amazing display of athleticism and concentration.
Midway through the second quarter, Clinton-Dix was in underneath coverage on Kearse. Clinton-Dix got spun around on the play, but recovered enough to make a one-handed interception just as he turned to find the ball. He returned that one 27 yards.
The Packers' red zone offense was awful in the first quarter. Despite their defense and special teams giving them an interception and a fumble recovery, the offense could produce only six points. Six times, Green Bay had the ball inside the Seattle 7-yard line and couldn't score a touchdown.
On those plays, Eddie Lacy carried three times for 7 yards, John Kuhn once for zero yards and Aaron Rodgers completed 1 of 2 passes for 5 yards. If the Packers had taken better advantage of those opportunities, the end might have turned out differently.
Leading 19-14 after a Seattle touchdown with just more than 2 minutes left in the game, the Packers couldn't recover an onside kick, allowing the Seahawks to take a 22-19 lead less than 2 minutes later. On the onside kick, Packers tight end Brandon Bostick let the ball go through his hands and bounce off his helmet.
Seattle's Chris Matthews recovered. Bostick started the play on the line and it appeared he wasn't supposed to go for the ball. Jordy Nelson was right behind him waiting to make the catch. Bostick got an earful from special teams coach Shawn Slocum on the sideline after the play.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- Green Bay's defense was airtight in the first half. In order, here were the results of Seattle's first-half possessions: interception, fumble recovery in kickoff return, three-and-out, three-and-out, interception, interception, end of half.
- The Packers could muster only 28 yards in the third quarter.
- The Seahawks didn't pick up their initial first down until their fifth possession.
- Green Bay had one of its worst performances of the season converting third downs, making only 3 of 14 (21 percent).
- The Packers are 3-3 in NFC championship games.
RANTS AND RAVES
RANT: While the defense played well overall, it gave up huge plays at the most inopportune times. On third-and-19 with 6:51 left in the third quarter, Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin found a seam in the zone coverage and caught a 29-yard pass. That led to Seattle's first score, when holder Jon Ryan hit Garry Gilliam in the end zone on a fake field goal play. Then in overtime, cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams gave up consecutive 35-yard pass plays and the game was over.
RAVE: Julius Peppers deserved to get a chance at his first Super Bowl ring after he dominated Seattle backup right tackle Alvin Bailey all day. Peppers finished with 1½ sacks, three quarterback hits and five tackles, including one tackle for loss. On several plays, his pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson forced him to throw away the ball.
RANT: After controlling Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch in the first half, allowing him to gain only 37 rushing yards, Green Bay's defense let him become a huge factor in the second half. Lynch ran for 120 of his 157 total rushing yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run, and caught a 26-yard pass, all in the second half.