4 downs: Dougherty on Packers' big win
Every week I'll share four quick thoughts the day after the Green Bay Packers game. Here they are after the Packers' 27-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night:
First down: Is Jimmy Graham even on the Seahawks? From 2011 to 2014 with the New Orleans Saints, Graham’s 355 receptions ranked fifth-most among all NFL players and most among tight ends. The next-closest tight end was Jason Witten (326 catches), and Graham averaged 1.5 yards more per reception (12.4 yards to Witten’s 10.8 yards). The Seahawks traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round pick for Graham to give their passing game some much-needed explosiveness. But Graham was a complete non-entity on Sunday night. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson targeted Graham only twice and they connected once for only 11 yards.
Second down: Richard Rodgers is taking hold as the Packers’ No. 1 tight end. Official snap counts won’t be available until later Monday, but Rodgers played a majority of the game, whereas backup Andrew Quarless played only a few snaps in the first half and only intermittently in the second half. Rodgers caught three passes for 23 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown. Aaron Rodgers said that play was improvised because center Corey Linsley snapped the ball before the quarterback had called the pass routes in the Packers' no-huddle offense. Richard Rodgers also caught the two-point conversion on the next snap on which he fought off linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was called for interference.
Third down: The Packers' kick and punt coverage teams had an excellent night against Seattle’s dynamic rookie return man, Tyler Lockett, a third-round pick from Kansas State. In the Seahawks’ opener against St. Louis last week, Lockett had a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown and averaged 28 yards on two kickoff returns. But the Packers held Lockett to an average of only 19.8 yards on four kickoff returns — Mason Crosby also kicked three touchbacks — and the Seahawks’ starting points were their own 10, 13, 18 and 16. Lockett also averaged only 8.5 yards on two punt returns, and punter Tim Masthay’s net average on three punts was 39 yards.
Fourth down: The Seahawks’ defensive front was as good as advertised, and Packers tackles David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay had their hands full all night. Michael Bennett, the Seahawks’ most disruptive defensive lineman, and Bruce Irvin, their most explosive outside rusher, each beat Bakhtiari for a sack. Barclay gave up a couple of pressures but appeared to do a credible job playing in place of injured Bryan Bulaga, who’s expected to miss about six weeks because of a knee injury.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.