SEATTLE – It wasn’t as dramatic as their last trip to Seattle, and nowhere near as significant, but the Green Bay Packers blew another double-digit lead to lose Thursday night inside CenturyLink Field.
Aaron Rodgers missed a wide-open Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a first down on third-and-2, and after coach Mike McCarthy decided to punt instead of going for it on fourth down, the Seahawks ran out the clock on a 27-24 win.
The Packers came 2,000 miles to find out what they already knew: They can’t beat a good — or even average — team on the road. While they’re undefeated at Lambeau Field this season, the Packers are now 0-5 on the road.
Here are five takeaways:
If Thursday wasn’t a must-win, the Packers missed a huge opportunity to get their season on track. They forced a Seahawks fumble on the first play and jumped out to a 14-3 lead, only to collapse from there. They’re now 3-5 in their last eight and have lost four of their past five to drop to 4-5-1 on the season. With an extended weekend until their next game in Minnesota, the Packers will get some rest. But they need to run the table to finish with 10 wins, which has traditionally been McCarthy’s measurement for a playoff team. Once again, the Packers are on the brink of missing the playoffs, this time with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. It’s far from ideal.
Kyler Fackrell is a beast. Who knew? The much-maligned former third-round pick might be in the midst of a breakout third season. Fackrell terrorized Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with three sacks, increasing his team high to eight on the season. He narrowly missed a fourth sack when Wilson tossed the football away as he was falling to the ground. He also batted a pass back to Wilson on a third down, forcing a completion to the quarterback for minus-11 yards. It was the second time Fackrell has had a hat trick in a game, his first coming at Lambeau Field against Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen in September. If that game felt like it might be a little fluky, there was no such sense Thursday night. Fackrell was the disruptive edge rusher the Packers have lacked all season. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate what he’s capable of producing.
Jones as dual threat
A couple weeks ago, offensive pass-game coordinator Jim Hostler described running back Aaron Jones as “developmental” in his receiving out of the backfield. For all his exciting production on the ground, Jones had yet to produce much of anything as a receiver. His career high as a receiver in a game was 27 yards. Then, when the Packers had given up the lead late in the second quarter, Jones caught three passes for 61 yards on a 75-yard touchdown drive. The Packers didn’t stick with it. Rodgers missed Jones on third down in the fourth quarter when the running back was wide open in the right flat. Still, if they can develop that more, Jones might not just be a weapon as a runner.
It took Trevor Davis one game to show why the Packers were wise to return him off injured reserve. Not that the box score shows much: His 11-yard average on two punt returners are short of game-breaking production. But it still has an impact on field position, and Davis had a 53-yard return — a legitimate game-changing play — called back because of a Korey Toomer holding penalty. (It was the third kick return of at least 50 yards the Packers have had called back this season.) If the Packers were flush with candidates eligible to return from IR, using one of the two designations on a return specialist would be a luxury. In this season of good health, the Packers made the right call.
With only three days to rest, the Packers were left shorthanded. Receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring), cornerback Kevin King (hamstring), outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and safety Kentrell Brice (ankle) were inactive. During the game, tight end Jimmy Graham (thumb), CB Bashaud Breeland (groin), S Raven Greene (ankle) and DT Mike Daniels left the game with injuries and didn't return. Graham is the headliner, but the secondary is running out of bodies, especially at safety.