Rodgers lifts Packers over Seahawks

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates a touchdown catch by James Jones (89) against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Green Bay Packers earned a little redemption against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Eight months after a demoralizing loss in the NFC championship game, the Green Bay Packers finally outdueled the Seahawks in a 27-17 win, thanks to some Aaron Rodgers magic and a pair of forced turnovers from outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott — all in front of regular-season record attendance of 78,433 at Lambeau Field.

The Packers led 13-3 at halftime, but gave up back-to-back touchdowns to Russell Wilson on the first two series of the second half to fall behind 17-13. After scoring on the opening series, Rodgers reached the end zone on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive at the start of the fourth quarter.

Rodgers was 8-for-8 for 79 yards on the drive, which ended in a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers and another connection with Rodgers on the two-point conversion to take a 24-17 lead with a little more than 9 minutes remaining.

With Eddie Lacy out with an ankle injury, the Packers rotated receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery, and Rodgers in the backfield. After converting a second-and-15 situation with an 18-yard pass to Cobb, Rodgers never came close to seeing a third down the rest of the drive.

Seattle stuck to the ground game on its next series. When quarterback Russell Wilson finally threw the ball, Elliott picked off an attempted screen for Lynch for what turned out to be the final blow in the Seahawks’ bid for a fourth consecutive win the series.

After burning some clock on the ground with James Starks, Crosby hit a 21-yard field goal with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining to take a 27-17 lead. Seattle made one last attempt, but it again ended with Elliott forcing a fumble.

Rodgers’ ability to draw the opposition offsides and catch defenses with 12 men on the field was on full display in the first half, beginning on the Packers’ first series, when he actually caught the Seahawks with 13. Officials didn’t catch it right away, but the Packers won a challenge to continue the drive.

On the next play, Rodgers caused Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett to jump on first-and-10, the first of three times Bennett jumped in the first half. The Packers declined the penalty when Rodgers hit Randall Cobb on a 21-yard completion.

The Packers lost Lacy to an ankle injury on the opening series, but Rodgers earned another free play when he caused Bennett to jump and found Jones for a 29-yard touchdown off a post route. Jones gained separation from all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman to create the score.

Like the first half of the NFC title game, the Packers’ defense held Russell Wilson and Seattle’s offense in check in the first 30 minutes. The Seahawks totaled 104 yards in the first half, scoring only once off a 54-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.

After allowing 183 yards to Chicago, the Packers contained running back Marshawn Lynch to 29 yards on 12 carries (2.4 yards per carry).

Green Bay’s offense slowed after its explosive start, but winning the field-position battle in the first half helped set up a 54-yard field goal by Mason Crosby in its second series. The Packers were establishing a promising drive on their fourth series before Starks fumbled.

Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers (12) throws downfield against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

The Packers’ third and final score of the first half was again keyed by Bennett. With another free play, Rodgers heaved a deep pass to rookie Ty Montgomery, who then picked up a pass interference call on Sherman for a 52-yard penalty.

Sherman was called for another holding penalty on the next play, setting up a 25-yard pass to Cobb. The Packers had to use all three of their timeouts in the first quarter, forcing them to throw three consecutive times from the Seattle 1 with 13 seconds left.

A sideline pass to Jones on second-and-goal was initially called a touchdown, but overturned upon automatic review. Rodgers’ last attempt to tight end Richard Rodgers was broken up by Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner. The Packers took a 13-3 lead into halftime after a Mason Crosby 18-yard field goal.

After rushing on only two occasions in the first half, Wilson came out scrambling out of halftime to key the Seahawks’ first touchdown-producing drive. He scrambled twice for 18 yards and started creating plays out of the pocket.

The Packers stopped Seattle on fourth-and-goal from its own 10, but an outside linebacker jumped offsides. On the next play, Wilson connected with recently acquired running back Fred Jackson on a five-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 13-10.

Rodgers and the offense went three-and-out to on their opening drive of the second half, getting sacked by both ends on third down. Meanwhile, Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 13-yard touchdown on post route ahead of nickel cornerback Micah Hyde to take their first lead of the game 17-13.

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a chance to turn the momentum during the five-play, 56-yard drive, but dropped an interception near Green Bay’s goal line. Wilson hit Baldwin two plays later for the score.

In need of an answer, the Packers received their response when Starks broke a 35-yard run on second-and-4. With Seattle’s secondary settling in, Green Bay completed only one pass on the eight-play, 46-yard drive, which cut the deficit to 17-16.

The Packers’ defense had another chance at a turnover on the Seahawks’ next drive when Wilson and Lynch missed the handoff, popping the ball up. Although Green Bay nose tackle Mike Pennel was flagged for offsides, the defense held and forced a Jon Ryan punt.

On the next series, Rodgers and the offense regained their footing to retake the lead for the final time and send the Seahawks home 0-2 on the young season. The Packers will take a 2-0 record into next Monday night’s game against Kansas City.

— and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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