The guys at PackersNews.com give their predictions for the Packers' Week One showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.
GREEN BAY – It wasn’t until the Green Bay Packers' ninth practice of camp this year their special teams practiced recovering onside kicks, but tight end Martellus Bennett understood the significance.
Bennett was at CenturyLink Field in Seattle during the 2014 NFC Championship game cheering for his brother, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett. He watched former Packers tight end Brandon Bostick botch the onside kick, opening the door to Seattle’s miraculous comeback victory.
No, Bennett said he hasn’t mentioned that game with any of his teammates since signing with the Packers this spring.
“I try not to bring that (expletive) up,” Bennett said. “I know it’s like (expletive) saying Voldemort in Hogwarts. You don’t want to say it. So I don’t bring it up. So when they say ‘hands team!’ I just am like – you know, I don’t say anything. I’m not going to touch it.
“I’m not going to be that guy.”
There aren’t many players left in the Packers' locker room who were in Seattle when the team blew its best shot at the Super Bowl since winning the 2010 title. Only 18 players on their roster were active for that game in January 2015.
Seventeen have since gotten whatever small revenge a regular-season win brings. The Packers have beaten the Seahawks twice since the NFC title game: a 27-17 win in Week 2 of the 2015 season, and a 38-10 win last December. Safety Morgan Burnett, who infamously slid after intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with roughly five minutes left in the fourth quarter, said he hardly thinks about that game anymore.
“That’s long ago,” Burnett said. “This is a new team from then and now. We don’t think about that. You can’t think about that now. Now it’s going into the 2017 season.”
The one exception is cornerback Davon House.
After the 2014 season, House signed as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’ll play the Seahawks on Sunday for the first time since the NFC championship game.
House admitted the past few days have returned bad memories.
“It does a little bit,” House said. “I’ve never beaten Seattle.”
House said he still remembers the “Fail Mary” loss in 2012.
“We should’ve won,” he said.
The NFC title game is more painful. While Bostick’s botch became the indelible image of that collapse, House can’t forget another special-teams play.
He was a perimeter defender on the block team when the Seahawks lined up for a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter. Instead of kicking, holder Jon Ryan scrambled around House, whose job was to block the kick.
House watched as Ryan completed a touchdown pass to lineman Garry Gilliam, giving the Seahawks their first points.
“The one that hurts me the most,” House said, “is the fake field goal. If I wasn’t doing my job, I could’ve made the tackle, and I could’ve stopped him. But I was doing my job, and they did a fake.
“So if I don’t do my job, I make the tackle, and the other guy doesn’t get in trouble on our team. But I did my job, the guy rolls out, and the rest is history.”
That’s what the NFC title game is for most Packers players who experienced it firsthand. Nothing more than history. Sure, they’ll never forget the loss, but it certainly doesn’t weigh on their minds this week.
For House, the need for revenge is more intense.
“I haven’t had a chance to beat them yet,” House said. “I’m 0-for.”