Turnovers helping to fuel Packers' turnaround

Eric Goska
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There is a protocol in place regarding lost items at Lambeau Field. No mention is made of what should be done for opposing quarterbacks who temporarily have lost their way.

On Sunday, Green Bay played lost and found by its own rules. Seattle repeatedly misplaced the ball and each time the Packers came up with it.

Green Bay grabbed six turnovers in dismantling the Seahawks 38-10. It had Russell Wilson — the second-leading passer in NFL history — scratching his head figuratively if not literally for much of the game.

The Lambeau Field Guide A to Z on the Packers’ website states: “On the day of a game, lost and found items can be reported to one of the Fan Assistance booths located underneath Section 109 in the main concourse and Section 353 in the upper concourse, or the Atrium Guest Services Desk.”

The only place Green Bay traveled with its unexpected windfall was downfield. The team parlayed three of the turnovers into drives that resulted in 21 points.

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Four members of the Packers’ secondary — Damarious Randall (twice), Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde and Quinten Rollins — picked off Wilson a total of five times. Defensive back Kentrell Brice then recovered Alex Collins’ fumble with one minute, three seconds remaining in the game.

Green Bay did not mimic the Seahawks’ carelessness. For the fifth time this season, Green Bay did not commit a turnover.

That left the Packers with a robust turnover differential of plus-6. The team never has lost at Lambeau Field with such an advantage.

It is well known that there is a correlation between turnover margin and victory. Ramp up the margin and an increase in winning percentage usually follows.

Green Bay’s experience at Lambeau Field over the years provides an example. The Packers have finished with a positive differential in 152 of the 337 regular-season games they have played there, and their record in those games is 131-18-3 (.865).

At plus-2 that record jumps to 78-7-1 (.913). At plus-3 it is 41-2 (.953). At plus-4 the Pack is unbeaten at 22-0.

Go to plus-5 or more and domination often ensues. The 10 times it has happened, Green Bay has won by an average of 25.8 points.

Six years have passed since the Packers last checked in at plus-5. Green Bay, with one lost fumble itself, forced the Giants into six turnovers in registering a 45-17 blowout on Dec. 26, 2010.

Well over 50 years had elapsed since Green Bay posted a plus-6. On opening day 1962, Boyd Dowler’s lost fumble was offset by seven Vikings’ turnovers, an imbalance that helped spark a 34-7 win.

Sunday, the Packers again dictated play. They handed the Seahawks their biggest loss since a 41-7 setback to the Giants in 2010. They saddled Wilson with the third-lowest passer rating (43.7) of his 77-game regular-season career.

At game time, Wilson (100.25) and Rodgers (103.54) were the only players with career passer ratings of 100 or more. Three hours later, only Rodgers remained.

Wilson completed his first attempt to Doug Baldwin for eight yards. His passer rating after that one pass was 100.0.

It was never that high again.

Burnett waylaid Wilson’s seventh throw. Randall then snagged the quarterback’s 16th attempt by jumping in front of Baldwin with 22 seconds left in the first half.

At the break, Wilson’s rating had cratered to 27.6. It stayed below 45 for the remainder of the game.

Rollins got pick No. 3 (Russell’s 21st pass attempt) after it caromed off teammate LeDarius Gunter, who was guarding Jermaine Kearse in the end zone. Russell’s 22nd pass attempt was pilfered by Randall after it bounced off Baldwin’s helmet.

It was the first time in Wilson’s career he was intercepted on consecutive throws.

Hyde brought home the final interception with 5:50 remaining. He returned it 11 yards to set up the Packers’ last touchdown, a 19-yard run by Jeff Janis.

Wilson, whose career passer rating dropped to 99.0, became just the third opposing quarterback to throw five interceptions in a regular-season game at Lambeau Field. Johnny Unitas was the first in October 1961. Fran Tarkenton followed suit on opening day 1962.

Extra points

» Green Bay is 54-3-1 in the regular season at Lambeau Field when it does not commit a turnover.

» Aaron Rodgers’ start against the Seahawks was his 46th in a row since returning from a broken collarbone against the Bears in the 2013 season finale. His streak is the second longest by a quarterback in team history, well behind the record 253 of Brett Favre. Bart Starr (1963-66) and Rodgers (2008-10) had held second place with runs of 45 straight.

nflgsis.com and pro-football-reference.com were used as references for this article.

Lost and Found

The four regular-season games at Lambeau Field in which the Packers had a turnover differential of plus-6 or better. Opponents’ turnovers are listed first and Green Bay’s second in the column labeled TOs.

Diff.   Date                  Opponent        TOs        Result
+7     Oct. 8, 1961       Colts               8-1          GB 45-7

+6     Oct. 9, 1960       Colts               6-0          GB 35-21

+6     Sept. 16, 1962    Vikings           7-1          GB 34-7

+6     Dec. 11, 2016     Seahawks        6-0          GB 38-10

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