D'Amato: It's a grind for Packers' offense
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers was intercepted on his seventh pass of the season, was sacked four times in the first half and had to bolt a collapsing pocket far too many times in the second. Ty Montgomery got 19 carries but averaged just 2.8 yards per attempt.
It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, it was almost never pretty.
Still, in its own way, the Green Bay Packers’ 17-9 victory Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field was a thing of football beauty.
The Packers’ offense made up for a lack of explosive, ESPN-top-10 type plays by grinding, play after play, against one of the NFL’s best defenses. They moved the chains, had five drives of at least nine plays and dominated time of possession.
“Whenever you can (win) a game like that, that’s such a great confidence boost,” center Corey Linsley said. “It takes all 11 guys to do that. We’re going to have stuff to fix. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect but I think that’s a huge confidence boost.”
With Kyle Murphy starting in place of injured Bryan Bulaga at right tackle and working next to new right guard Jahri Evans for the first time in a meaningful game, there were bound to be some issues on the offensive line.
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BOX SCORE: Packers 17, Seahawks 9
“Obviously, me and Jahri’s reps are a little bit limited,” Murphy said. “We don’t have three, four years playing next to each other. We figured they would try to get after us with stunts, games, twists, speed rushes, trying to make us think, trying to get us off the same page.”
The first half was especially ugly, with the Packers held to 152 yards and no points and Rodgers dumped four times.
“We gave one too many sacks, I think,” left guard Lane Taylor said. “Probably too many pressures. But they’re a good D line up front. They’re active. They were juiced up. We’ll learn from it, correct what we did wrong and move on.”
In presenting the game plan to the offense on Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy referenced boxer Floyd Mayweather’s victory over Conor McGregor two weeks ago. In his post-fight comments, Mayweather said he knew he would take control of the fight in the late rounds.
“That was kind of my outlook as far as how I wanted to play this defense today,” McCarthy said. “But, you know, hey, things don’t always go the way you plan. I thought our guys offensively did a great job just getting after it.”
The second half was better, though by my count Rodgers was flushed from the pocket under heavy pressure no fewer than seven times.
Still, the Packers put together drives of 9, 12 and 12 plays totaling 191 yards on their final three possessions, which ended in a touchdown, a field goal and Rodgers taking a knee in the victory formation.
“The best play in football,” Murphy said with a smile.
With Green Bay’s defense holding Seattle to three field goals, stopping Eddie Lacy in his tracks (3 yards on five carries), limiting Russell Wilson to 158 passing yards and forcing him to cough up a game-changing fumble, the offense enjoyed huge advantages in time of possession (39:13-20:47), plays (74-48), yards (370-225) and first downs (26-12).
“It was good,” Taylor said. “Kind of the way you want your first one to be a little bit. Well, not that first half. It’s just kind of one of those deals. First game of the year. I think we had some positives but there’s a lot we can learn from this.”
It does bode well for the future. The Packers are built to outscore other teams, so if they can win this way, too, they’re going to be hard to beat.
“It’s a gritty win that over the course of the season you can look back and say, ‘We found a way to win,’ ” Murphy said. “That’s the biggest thing, finding a way to win and be 1-0 every week. We’re happy with the end result. We’ll fix the little things.”