Tom Silverstein, Pete Dougherty and Aaron Nagler give their initial impressions from the Packers' 17-9 victory over the Seahawks. USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - The definition of a good day requires an alternate description when you’re facing the Seattle Seahawks defense, because standard measurements like yards per touch, broken tackles and bruises delivered are not applicable.
When you face the toughest 11 guys any NFL defense will put on the field this season, you judge success on one thing: the final outcome.
Thus, it was a good day for the Green Bay Packers, who beat the Seahawks, 17-9, Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field in what could only be described as a Darwinian clash of NFC heavyweights.
It was also a good day for running back Ty Montgomery, whose numbers didn’t suggest a measurable impact on the game, but whose presence on the field made all the difference in the Packers squeaking out a tightly contested Week 1 victory.
“Ty, he’s a special back,” guard Lane Taylor said. “He’s early in his running back career, but he can do some good things. He made that one play on the left sideline there, that was really nice.
“That just gave energy to the whole team when Ty makes a play like that. I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do this year.”
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Montgomery’s 20-yard catch and run with 12 minutes, 10 seconds left in the game helped set up the Packers’ final points, a 40-yard Mason Crosby field goal with 8:01 to go.
But as Taylor pointed out, it wasn’t just the yards that made it special, it was the way in which he did it.
But before describing it, it’s important to note that Montgomery is not at the top of the list of skill players the Packers expect to carry them this season. The Packers are a passing team and that makes Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Martellus Bennett and maybe even Geronimo Allison — who was serving a one-game suspension Sunday — bigger priorities in the Mike McCarthy offense.
But would the Packers have won this game without the physically imposing and extremely gifted Montgomery not withstanding every shot the Seahawks delivered, including a de-cleater from all-world safety Earl Thomas after an 8-yard run?
Montgomery touched the ball 23 times — 19 carries and four receptions — and produced 93 yards, which is basically an average of 4 yards per touch. But those 93 yards were a team-high, and more importantly, the Packers’ hardest earned.
It was the same type of game he had in the Packers' 38-10 victory over Seattle here last year.
“It was a tough game,” said Montgomery, who left in the fourth quarter after suffering what appeared to be a sprained left ankle but said it was minor. “I had to earn every single yard I got today."
Seattle’s defense seemingly had every gap covered in the run game early on and McCarthy didn’t seem interested in testing it until he had to. Montgomery carried eight times in the first half and finished with 16 yards with a long run of 3 yards.
But McCarthy went to Montgomery more in the second half when Seattle’s defense started to tire due to a lopsided time of possession.
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“Ty just keeps pounding the ball, being consistent, playing like he always plays,” rookie running back Jamaal Williams said. “That’s just what you have to do first quarter, be consistent and let the defense know every time they tackle you or every time they come after you, you’re going to give all your effort all the time.”
Not since current Seattle back Eddie Lacy was a healthy and relatively fit member of the Packers’ backfield has the team been able to withstand the fury of a defense like Seattle’s.
Montgomery might have bigger statistical games down the road, but where he’s going to be needed most this season is against what looks to be a very improved Chicago Bears defense, a consistently good Minnesota Vikings defense, and the snarling defensive dogs of the AFC North (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati and even Cleveland).
“Ty’s a tough guy,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He made some good plays for us. He’s a strong dude. We’ve got to keep trying to give him opportunities to get free running the football, but he made some nice plays.”
His first came after defensive tackle Mike Daniels stripped Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson of the ball and the Packers recovered at the 6-yard line early in the third quarter. McCarthy called a sweep to the left with center Corey Linsley and Taylor pulling in front of him.
Taylor kicked out end Michael Bennett and Linsley walled off linebacker K.J. Wright, leaving 6-3, 225-pound safety Kam Chancellor to bring down the 6-foot, 223-pound Montgomery at the 2-yard line. Chancellor made the mistake of trying to tackle Montgomery around the waist and got dragged into the end zone.
“Score,” Montgomery said when asked what he was thinking. “Keep it simple. Score.”
The other big play Montgomery had was the 20-yard catch Taylor referenced earlier. It came with the Packers in need of adding to their 14-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. The biggest gain of what turned out to be a 12-play, 53-yard field goal drive was a swing pass to Montgomery out of the backfield.
Rodgers got the ball out quickly to his left and when Montgomery caught it, he knew who would be waiting for him.
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“I knew Earl was going to be the one to play the catch out of the backfield,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t know exactly where he was going to fit, whether it was outside or inside. As soon as I caught the ball, I knew who to look for in terms of who I needed to make miss.”
That’s exactly what Montgomery did, spinning away from Thomas at the sideline and running until cornerback Shaq Griffin happened to get a hand in his shoulder pads and pull him out of bounds.
Later, Montgomery helped the Packers grind out the final 6:17 of the game, taking punishment on each and every run, but finally reaping the benefits when Rodgers ran a bootleg fake that resulted in a 26-yard completion to tight end Martellus Bennett made possible because the end crashed down in an effort to chase down Montgomery.
“It felt great,” Montgomery said. “You get those hard-fought runs, I like that. I like being able to be the guy finishing the game, get some catches, get some runs, keep the clock moving.”
Something the Packers will need from him again.