NFC North: Seattle Seahawks
It happened on Seattle’s KJR 950 AM with former Packers coach Mike Holmgren and current Packers coach Mike McCarthy. And it was almost as if the listeners were given the chance to eavesdrop on their conversation rather than listening to a radio show.
Perhaps most interesting was when the conversation turned to last year’s Packers-Seahawks game, which ended with the controversial simultaneous possession touchdown call by the replacement officials that gave Seattle the unlikely victory.
Said Holmgren: “There’s not a question in my mind that was as an interception … The thing is, when I watched your press conference the next day, and Mike you’re a real gentleman, I would have been fined. There’s no question in my mind, I would have been fined. And you handled that about as well as I’ve seen a coach handle that. Was that difficult?”
Said McCarthy: “Thanks. No question that was difficult, but it was the best thing for our football team, and I never lost sight of that. That was my vision of what I needed to do when I walked into the post-game press conference, and I think it was very apparent what happened. There’s good calls in our league and not-so-good calls, and not-so-good calls sometimes go the other way. … You knew there was going to be a storm that was going to follow that situation, and I was just trying to get our football team to move on as quickly as possible.”
The entire conversation between Holmgren and McCarthy, who spoke on the eve of Friday’s Packers-Seahawks preseason game, is available here .
The loss brings about major concern for the Bears' defense, which gave up TDs -- not once, but twice -- in key moments Sunday when the club absolutely needed stops to win the game.
Let's look deeper.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Mounting injuries and the firestorm of Sam Hurd’s arrest on federal drug charges earlier in the week proved too much for the Bears to overcome Sunday in an embarrassing 38-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bears remain in contention for a postseason berth, but the team's pulse is fading fast.
Let’s take a look at this team’s ineptitude in depth:
What it means: The loss doesn’t mathematically eliminate the Bears from postseason contention, but it sure put the team right on the verge of disappearing from the hunt. The Bears entered Sunday one game behind the Detroit Lions (8-5) for a wild-card spot. So even if Chicago would have defeated the Seahawks and Detroit lost, the Bears would have still been behind the Lions because of the teams’ division records.
So Chicago’s remaining outings against NFC North foes Green Bay and Minnesota and Detroit’s last game with the Packers are still important. But the Seahawks have moved past the Bears in the NFC standings. Although they have the same record (7-7), the Seahawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Bears used to win when D scores: The Bears racked up a 3-0 record through the first 13 games when they scored a defensive touchdown. But the trend came to an end Sunday in the loss to the Seahawks.
Chicago put a defensive touchdown on the board with 2:23 left in the first quarter when Julius Peppers sacked and stripped Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and Israel Idonije pounced on the ball for a TD. The score initially seemed like an omen the Bears would pull this one out.
After all, the Bears won a Week 10 game against the Lions when Charles Tillman and Major Wright scored on interception returns of 44 and 24 yards, respectively. The club also captured victories over the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 thanks to defensive TDs by D.J. Moore and Brian Urlacher.
It all came to an end against the Seahawks.
The Bears are now 14-2 since 2005 when they score a defensive touchdown and 17-5 in such situations since 2004.
Injury bug biting: Injuries continue to decimate Chicago’s roster. The Bears lost starters Johnny Knox (lower back) and safety Chris Conte (foot/ankle) to injuries against the Seahawks.
It’s unclear whether Knox and Conte will miss extended time with their injuries, but the club’s numbers continue to dwindle.
The Bears entered the game without quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, defensive tackle Henry Melton and safety Major Wright.
Importance of scoring first: The Bears typically win when they strike first. Over the past eight years, the Bears had compiled a record of 41-24 when they put points on the board first. Over that same span, the Bears were 29-31 when opponents scored first, including 2-3 in 2011.
Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 8:41 left in the first quarter for the first points of the game. Apparently, that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
The Bears are now 29-32 when the opponent scores first and 2-4 in 2011.
More fun with numbers: The Bears are now 12-29 since 2004 when they finish with a negative turnover margin.
The Bears were minus-five in turnover margin thanks to a Knox fumble, a trio of Caleb Hanie interceptions -- two returned for touchdowns -- and a fourth-quarter Josh McCown INT.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, Hanie has likely sealed his fate in Chicago with his poor play over four starts.
What’s next: The Bears face the Green Bay Packers on the road Sunday night.
Seattle gave Detroit a rare opportunity to win a game at Qwest Field. Detroit, however, wasn’t ready to accept the gift.
That’s the way I saw the Lions’ loss Sunday evening to the Seahawks. Detroit actually took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter after Seattle committed turnovers on its first two offensive plays. But you’ll rarely, if ever, win a game when your quarterback throws five interceptions in one game.
Rookie Matthew Stafford did just that. Josh Wilson returned the final interception 61 yards for a touchdown, scuttling the Lions’ two-minute drill as they attempted to overcome a 25-20 deficit.
Stafford had thrown two interceptions over his previous three starts, and Sunday was clearly a setback. He’s now thrown 12 on the season, eight of which have come at notoriously loud stadiums in New Orleans and Seattle. His reaction to those environments doesn’t bode well for next Sunday’s game at Minnesota.
It's back. Every spring for the past six years, some wise guy has wondered when the mistake will transform into strategy.
It was an accident when Minnesota missed its turn in the 2003 NFL draft, slipping from No. 7 to No. 9 before grabbing defensive tackle Kevin Williams. But at what point will a team intentionally pass in order to lower its costs while still acquiring a talented player? And has there ever been better timing for it than at the top of the 2009 draft, which doesn't offer a clear-cut No. 1 pick?
Ross Tucker of SportsIllustrated.com penned a thoughtful argument last week suggesting that Detroit should pass on drafting No. 1 overall. Tucker noted the Lions' multiple options -- from Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford to Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith to Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- and concluded:
"... The Lions could save a cool $4 million at least by letting the Rams and Chiefs pick first, while still landing a very good player who they were considering taking with the top pick anyway."
Tucker's piece instigated some Internet buzz, and recently Andrew of Traverse City, Mich., asked if the NFL would allow the maneuver. The answer, Andrew, is that it's an entirely legal move under league rules. If it happened, that team's rookie pool would be adjusted to correspond with the new position of its pick.
It seems to make perfect sense. If you look at the chart below, you can see how rookie contract values decreased in 2008 with the exception of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. (Quarterback contracts generally don't adhere strictly to the slotting system.) The difference between the No. 1 and No. 4 picks last season was $4 million in guarantees and $1.55 million on an annual basis.
If your scouting department offers similar grades to multiple players, why not wait a few spots and take the one who is remaining at a substantial discount? It's just good business, right?
I've spent some time checking with agents and team executives on this issue, and no one has provided a argument that completely deconstructs this approach. But if the Lions consider it, they must weigh a number of unique obstacles. (Ultimately, these hurdles probably will conspire to make it an unlikely scenario -- but a perfectly fine blog entry!)
Let's take the complications one at a time:
You could expect a strong pushback from agents, who would argue their clients' value have been artificially reduced. Were it not for this loophole, the player the Lions select would be the No. 1 overall pick. Passing is an implicit admission that a team feels strongly about a player but believes it can get him at a lower price than the one required in the NFL slotting system. It's a legal maneuver that nonetheless betrays some intent.
The only precedent came when the Vikings and Tom Condon, the agent for Kevin Williams, began the complicated task of negotiating a contract in 2003. Although the NFL had calculated Minnesota's rookie pool based on having the No. 9 pick, Condon maintained Williams deserved No. 7 value.
Ultimately, Williams' deal fell below that level. But Condon was able to extract $8 million in guaranteed money, a 21.4 percent increase over the bonuses given to the No. 9 pick of the 2002 draft. That's more than three times the normal raise.
The instances aren't entirely comparable because the Vikings would have taken Williams at No. 7 were it not for a miscommunication during trade discussions. It wouldn't be as easy to trace the Lions' intentions if they passed at No. 1 this year. But the maneuver would at least hand agents an additional tool for complicating negotiations; at worst, it would engender mistrust before the player sets foot in the team's practice facility.
Few have considered the mechanics of passing, which aren't as obvious as they seem and carry inherent risk.
Passing from the No. 1 spot would cede the only control a team has during the entire draft. Every other pick is a variable based on the decisions of the previous teams.
Technically, you can re-enter the draft at any time after passing. Now, however, you partially are at the mercy of teams that leap-frog you, and with a twist: You're competing against those teams to submit your choice. It literally becomes a race to the NFL draft table in New York City.
The risk might be minimal if the Lions have four or five players on their "list." But if they are passing with the hope of moving down, say, two spots, the Lions would be in jeopardy of losing out on all their options.
Every team has a protocol for the "Minnesota scenario." St. Louis (No. 2) and Kansas City (No. 3) and even Seattle (No. 4) could each be waiting at the draft table to submit their selections ahead of the Lions following the "pass." The Lions would have to plan the logistics carefully and execute them remotely from their draft room in Detroit.
NFL officials would have to make a judgment call at the moment. Which team representative arrived at the table first? The Lions, instead of being in total control of the player they draft, would be at the league's mercy in determining draft order. They would hope for a fair ruling, but the only way to guarantee it is to pick in their original spot.
The No. 1 overall pick carries great scrutiny, but the Lions would be remiss if they believe that passing would mitigate that pressure. If anything, it would cast a brighter spotlight on the decision.
Why? Because the Lions would be giving up draft value for nothing. It's one thing to trade down from the No. 1 spot in exchange for extra draft picks. It's another simply to give it up. According to some draft trade charts, the cost of trading from the No. 1 to the No. 2 pick is a late second-round choice.
You could argue there is no actual value in that scenario because no one would give the Lions a second-rounder to move up one spot. But there should be some value to having the chance to pick any player on the board, and the Lions would squander it by passing.
The decision might ultimately make them look smart. But if it fails -- if a player they passed on proves superior to the one they selected -- the scrutiny would be greater than traditional second-guessing. The only benefit from the move would be cash savings, hardly a consolation prize when the ultimate judgment day arrives.
Finally, observers shouldn't discount the role of peer pressure. An intentional pass would start a domino effect that would impact multiple teams.
Suddenly, St. Louis would be obligated to pay No. 1 money. Kansas City could ascend into the No. 2 spot. The shuffle works counter to the way the NFL has arranged its system -- teams that finish last pick first -- and almost certainly would incur the wrath of the owners forced to take on additional financial obligations.
Consider another Vikings creation: The "poison p
ill" contract they gave guard Steve Hutchinson in 2006. The clause, which made it impossible for Seattle to retain Hutchinson as its transition player, was legal under NFL rules. The league has never closed the loophole, but guess how often it's been repeated?
(Update: Thesawat points out the Seahawks retaliated by inserting a poison pill into the contract of receiver Nate Burleson a few weeks later. But, since THEN, I'm not aware of another repeat.)
The NFL's collective economic approach has long tentacles and powerful enforcers. The Lions, or any other team that passed on a high draft pick, would face legitimate fury from their business partners.
If they follow a similar thought process, I think the Lions will be unlikely to pass at No. 1. But isn't it fun to imagine the possibilities?
Three of the NFC North's top personnel men, two of its coaches and at least one offensive coordinator were in attendance Wednesday at USC's pro day, an event highlighted by the presence of quarterback Mark Sanchez.
According to this roll call from NFL.com, Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew, Packers general manager Ted Thompson and Minnesota vice president Rick Spielman were all there. So were Lions coach Jim Schwartz, Vikings coach Brad Childress and Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
While Sanchez was the headline performer, the event also included three linebackers who could be top-25 picks in the April 25-26 draft.
I'll focus on Sanchez here for two reasons. One, Schwartz said last week the Lions were hoping to get some extra work with him at the conclusion of the throwing session. Two, Childress has been known to frequent pro days in the past, but more often than not it's to see a big-time quarterback.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay was in attendance and shared his notes with the Black and Blue blog. According to McShay, Sanchez had a superb workout and threw harder than he ever has before. His accuracy was spot-on, even when required to move out of the pocket and re-set his feet before throwing.
You can expect to see McShay's full report Wednesday night on SportsCenter and later on ESPN.com.
It will be interesting to see how high Sanchez can push himself in this draft. I don't think he's a realistic possibility for the Lions' No. 1 overall pick, but he could certainly enter their picture if they trade down from No. 1.
But they might not want to move too far. According to multiple reports, Seattle (No. 4 overall) and Jacksonville (No. 8) have been all over Sanchez the past two days. The Seahawks had five members of their organization at Wednesday's workout.
At No. 22 overall, the Vikings have almost no chance of grabbing Sanchez unless they trade up. But there is a strong chance that at least one of the Trojans' linebacker trio will be sitting there. Maybe Spielman and Childress had linebackers on their minds.
Barring a significant change over the next six weeks, Detroit has greatly diminished the possibility that it will select Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with the No. 1 overall pick of next month's draft.
That's a primary upshot of the trade that sent Lions defensive tackle Cory Redding to Seattle in exchange for linebacker Julian Peterson on Saturday. Peterson will pair with Ernie Sims, the Lions' top returning defensive player, to give the Lions veteran bookends at the linebacker position. Curry primarily played outside linebacker during his college career, meaning someone would have to change positions -- or Sims would have to be the next to move on -- for Curry to fit into the 2009 starting lineup in what is expected to be a 4-3 defense.
Peterson will turn 31 this summer and has seen his sack total fall in each of the past two seasons after notching 10.5 for the Seahawks in 2006. But he is still enough of a pass-rushing threat that teams will have to account for his presence, a modest obstacle the Lions have rarely benefited from in recent years.
The cost was relatively significant -- Redding and a fifth-round draft choice -- but Redding didn't fit the mold of the bigger, stronger defense new coach Jim Schwartz plans to implement. At 295 pounds, Redding in essence was a defensive end playing tackle for the Lions over the past two years. Moving him back outside wasn't as simple as it sounds; players tend to lose speed over time, and counting on him to return to form as a pass-rushing defensive end would have been risky.
Ironically, Curry was scheduled to visit the Lions' practice facility on Sunday. We're assuming that meeting will occur as planned, and it's still conceivable the Lions could draft him if they determine he is the best player in the draft. But if nothing else, Saturday's trade eliminated the "need factor" from their thought process.
Depending on that evaluation, we could be down to a two-man race for the No. 1 overall pick: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith.
Based on the comments you left Wednesday, a few of you are getting tired of the T.J. Houshmandzadeh-Tarvaris Jackson angle we've been working here for oh, it seems, about three years. So this will be the last post. I'm pretty sure.
But it's only fair that we bring you Jackson's response to reports that Houshmandzadeh chose Seattle over Minnesota because the Seahawks have a more stable quarterback situation. (We piled on Wednesday, noting that the Vikings portrayed Jackson as their likely starter during Houshmandzadeh's visit, despite the recent acquisition of Sage Rosenfels.)
Appearing Thursday on Sirius NFL Radio, Jackson said he wasn't bothered by Houshmandzadeh's preference for Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck. But Jackson also noted Hasselbeck was injured for most of last season and made clear he considers the Vikings a better overall option. (Kudos to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune for transcribing the interview.)
"No, it don't [bother me]. Matt Hasselbeck took his team to the Super Bowl. He won some games in Seattle. He's an older guy, experienced guy. With my situation that I've been in, not [being] in the lineup, and now we have Sage. He's been kind of in and out of the lineup in Houston and with his prior teams to that. That was [Houshmandzadeh's] decision and I wish him the best in Seattle. Not to take anything away from Seattle, but we feel like we're farther along than they are as far as the team goes. Matt is a big part of their team and he was pretty much hurt for the whole year last year so that probably hindered them a little bit. But they have a lot of receivers, they have a lot of talent out there in Seattle, so he made the decision to go out there and I guess that's where he felt more comfortable at."
As for the legitimacy of his battle with Rosenfels, Jackson said he considers himself in competition every year:
"Well, year in and year out coach [Brad] Childress always tells me we're going to compete. So I'm taking that same approach this year. I'm competing for the starting job and that's the approach I'm taking. I'm just going to go do my best and prepare hard this offseason and do what I normally do, take it up a notch and try to get better. So whatever coach decides, that's his decision but I'm going to make sure I do my part."
End topic. For now.
Tom of Los Angeles, home of new Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a few million other people, writes:
I'm a HUGE Vikings fan living in Los Angeles. One of my employees and his brother know T.J. Houshmandzadeh. When asked why he passed on Minnesota, he told them that it was all good until they brought Tarvaris Jackson into talk to him (and basically signal to him that he is their starter). ..."
We have to be careful about passing along news tips, but in this case Tom's information is verified. ESPN's John Clayton reported the same sequence of events last Saturday on ESPN radio. Houshmandzadeh himself said that the presence of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle played a big part in his decision.
The news here is not so much Houshmandzadeh's reaction to meeting with Jackson. Only two people know first-hand what they talked about. Regardless, the meeting was only part of the overall process of a free-agent visit. It's not fair to blame Jackson for Houshmandzadeh's decision to sign with Seattle.
To me, the larger point is that the Vikings portrayed Jackson as their 2009 starter rather than as a competitor for the job along with Sage Rosenfels. Or, at the very least, that's the way Houshmandzadeh perceived the situation when the Vikings offered to put him and Jackson in a meeting room. It's very possible that Rosenfels wasn't in the building that day. But for Houshmandzadeh, the message was clear. High-profile free-agent visits are planned and choreographed, and the Jackson meeting probably wasn't a last-minute arrangement.
Much of this is a matter of perception. I believe the Vikings will go through the process of a formal quarterback competition, as they have stated since acquiring Rosenfels from Houston. (That, of course, is barring any further additions to their depth chart.) But many of us are perceiving the situation the same way Houshmandzadeh did: That, at the very least, the Vikings remain committed to developing Jackson as their long-term starter and that he will win the job in 2009 as long as his performance is close to Rosenfels' during the competition.
I don't know what the Vikings told Houshmandzadeh about that competition. But from his perspective, actions spoke louder than words.
New Seattle receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh provided a pretty blunt explanation Tuesday for why he chose to sign with the Seahawks rather than Minnesota. Speaking on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show, Houshmandzadeh said he preferred Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck over the Vikings' current combination of Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
Here is the relevant exchange, courtesy of KFXN-AM in Minneapolis:
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: "...Ultimately I thought when I started comparing things, you look at the guy who is going to touch the ball every play and that's Matt Hasselbeck and that kind of weighed the decision a little bit in the favor of the Seahawks."
If you were looking at the other two teams, who had a better chance: Minnesota or Cincinnati?
TJH: "Uh, Minnesota."
But they have a quarterback situation that is in a state of flux. If that had been firmed up, would it have tipped the scales toward Minnesota?
TJH: "Oh yeah, yeah. But that's not the case, you know. So hindsight is 20-20. I'm happy here. Seattle has been good for years and years and years. They had a bad year last year, and we're going to bring it back this year."
Yes, I know it probably seems pretty convenient for me to suggest that the Vikings lost out on Houshmandzadeh because of their unsettled quarterback situation on the same day I wrote they should make a run at Denver quarterback Jay Cutler. And it's true that Houshmandzadeh was merely trying to praise Hasselbeck, who when healthy is one of the NFL's top 10 quarterbacks, and not necessarily demean Jackson or Rosenfels.
And finally, I suspect there were several factors -- including financial issues -- that also contributed to the decision. Players don't often say they signed with a team because of contract terms.
But it goes almost without saying that the quarterback plays an integral role for free agent receivers. Houshmandzadeh made a value judgment, and he expressed it Tuesday with no media filter.
NFC West colleague Mike Sando will be covering Houshmandzadeh's introductory news conference Tuesday afternoon in Seattle, and we'll reconvene if Houshmandzadeh expands his thoughts on the issue.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver and free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh is making his second trip of free agency. According to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, 'Housh' is in Minneapolis to visit the Minnesota Vikings.
Recently Houshmandzadeh told ESPN that he would love to play for the Vikings, mainly because of tailback Adrian Peterson.
"If I can play with Adrian Peterson, can you imagine what I would do getting one-on-one coverage?" Houshmandzadeh said. "I'm going to win 98.6 percent of the time with one-on-one coverage with him in the backfield."
Houshmandzadeh's first visit was to the Seattle Seahawks on Friday, but he left without signing a contract. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota can seal the deal this weekend.
To clarify our Thursday post on former Detroit coach Rod Marinelli, the Houston Texans are interested in him as a potential defensive line coach but apparently not as a defensive coordinator.
That was the information reported Friday by the Houston Chronicle. After interviewing for positions in Chicago, Seattle and Houston, Marinelli told the paper he planned to take a few days to contemplate his future.
There is little doubt the Bears want Marinelli to join their staff in a substantive way after firing all three of their primary defensive position coaches. We're assuming the Bears have their defensive line job in mind for him, considering that coordinator Bob Babich remains under contract. It would be highly unusual for the Bears to demote Babich and hire a new coordinator over top of him.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is running a fan poll on its Web site this week as Minnesota prepares for its matchup Sunday at Jacksonville.
The question: "Whom would you rather have coaching the Vikings?" The choices are current coach Brad Childress and his predecessor, Mike Tice. As of Wednesday morning, Tice was leading the voting 85 percent to 15 percent.
(You have to vote to see the results. I voted once for each to maintain my perfect record of objectivity).
Unscientific as it might be, the poll suggests some fans have come around on Tice's tenure after applauding his firing in 2006. It also speaks to the backup quarterback syndrome, which dictates that fans crave whoever isn't playing quarterback, or coaching, at the time of the question.
Tice, now the Jaguars' assistant head coach/tight ends, had a 33-34 record in four seasons with the Vikings. Childress is 19-23 in Year 3. Speaking this week to the Star Tribune's Mark Craig, Tice said he was proud to have been "competitive each week" given the limitations of working for a franchise that was on the selling block for most of his time as coach.
Tice also said that his admission to scalping 12 Super Bowl tickets in 2006 has blocked his chances of getting another head coaching job.
"I'm absolutely sure the ticket thing will harm me because it harmed me last year with one particular team," Tice said. "The team came out and told my agent that they wouldn't consider me because of that. But you make your bed. You have to sleep in it."
Tice would not identify the team.
Continuing around the NFC North this morning:
- The Vikings never announced it, but according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, the team has extended the contract of vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski. The agreement occurred during the spring, at about the same time vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman's contract was extended.
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune suggests that fans get off the back of defensive coordinator Bob Babich and jump on coach Lovie Smith: "The assumption here is that Smith, not Babich, is really running the defense."
- Could defensive tackles Marcus Harrison and Anthony Adams get more playing time? The Chicago Sun-Times delves into that question in its Two-Minute Drill.
- The Green Bay Packers are three defensive touchdowns away from tying the NFL record of 10, set by the 1998 Seattle Seahawks. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has the story.
- Really good read from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lori Nickel, who profiles nickel back Tramon Williams, who went to Louisiana Tech to be a full-time student -- working odd jobs to pay his way -- before walking onto the football team.
- Detroit has three consecutive home games coming up, but as Terry Foster of the Detroit News points out, the Lions have been better on the road. Their margin of defeat this season at Ford Field has averaged 20.5 points, while they have lost by an average of 9.3 on the road.
- Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press offers six suggestions for maintaining a winless season. Among them: Continuing to "think inside the box."
Green Bay got well Sunday against a team that is even more injury-depleted than it is. I hardly recognize half the names on the Seattle side of the box score depicting the Packers 27-17 victory at Qwest Field.
But after all the trials of their three-game losing streak, the Packers find themselves back in a three-way tie with Chicago and Minnesota for the NFC North lead. They simply outlasted the Seahawks on Sunday, taking the lead in the third quarter and outscoring the Seahawks 17-7 in the second half.
Two Packers players are impressing many people around the NFL right now. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is persevering through a painful sprained shoulder, having lost minimal velocity and none of his accuracy. His 45-yard touchdown pass Sunday hit receiver Greg Jennings in stride down the right sideline.
Meanwhile, cornerback Tramon Williams now has an interception in each of the three games since he replaced injured starter Al Harris. Williams is not the cover man Harris is, but he makes up for it with big plays. His interception Sunday of Charlie Frye essentially locked up the game with 6:35 remaining.