Monday, September 24, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 14, Packers 12
By Mike Sando
SEATTLE -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 home victory over the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on Monday night:
What it means: The Seahawks improved to 2-1 and claimed a share of second place in the NFC West with a shocking, disputed touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate on the final play. Replays appeared to show Green Bay intercepting the pass after Tate committed apparent pass interference, but the evidence didn't convince the referee to overturn the call upon review. And so it was that Seattle escaped with one of the more improbable victories in team history. More broadly, the Seahawks showed they can play defense as well as anyone in the NFL, but they'll also have a tough time taking the next step as a team without accelerated development from the offense. Disputed Hail Mary passes will be the exception, not the rule.
What I liked: The Seahawks' defense took charge early and finally got results from its pass rush. Eight first-half sacks quadrupled Seattle's total from the first two games. The pass rush had gotten good pressure against Arizona and Dallas, but the sacks weren't coming. While the offense struggled early and for most of the game, Wilson did connect with a perfectly placed 41-yard touchdown pass to Tate. This was Tate's second game back from a knee injury. He is clearly the deep threat for Seattle to this point.
Seattle's eight first-half sacks were more than the team had managed in a full game since getting eight against San Francisco back on Sept. 14, 2008.
The Seahawks had never gotten eight in a first half. The team did have eight second-half sacks against Buffalo on Dec. 8, 1996. The New York Giants hold the NFL record for sacks in a first half with nine against Chicago on Oct. 2, 2010. Those records date to 1982, when sacks became an official NFL stat.
The Seahawks' franchise record for sacks in a game was 11, set against the Los Angeles Raiders on Dec. 8, 1986. The team had 10 against Philadelphia on Dec. 13, 1992 and nine four times previously, most recently against Oakland on Nov. 6, 2006.
Jon Ryan's punting helped give Seattle very good field position. That included pinning the Packers at their own 1-yard line.
What I didn’t like: There were dubious officiating calls throughout, notably for defensive pass interference against Seattle's Kam Chancellor and Green Bay's Sam Shields. Those calls changed the game. The final play was also highly questionable, obviously. And even though officials declared the game over and the field cleared, they eventually brought back the teams for a point-after try, without explanation. Ridiculous.
Before that play, the Seattle offense appeared inept and compounded its problems with penalties, including early false starts from left tackle Russell Okung and tight end Anthony McCoy. McCoy committed another false-start penalty on Seattle's first drive of the second half. Okung, chosen sixth overall in 2010, also committed a killer holding penalty when Seattle was driving in the fourth quarter. He struggled against Clay Matthews in a matchup Seattle needed him to win at least some of the time.
Wilson took a 19-yard sack to set up third-and-32 for Seattle right after Green Bay got its first points with the field goal. A delay penalty, Seattle's 10th penalty of the game, made it third-and-37. Miscues such as those kept the defense on the field too long while ceding valuable field position to Green Bay.
Defensive penalties also hurt Seattle. One of the costliest was a roughing-the-passer call against Bobby Wagner on the Packers' first drive of the second half. The penalty helped move Green Bay into range for a field goal.
Coach Pete Carroll's emphasis on reducing penalties hasn't gotten the desired results. Officials also made some curious calls against both teams. A highly questionable interference call against Chancellor on third down sustained the go-ahead touchdown drive for the Packers midway through the fourth quarter. That one hurt Seattle because the team led, 7-6, and the Packers were not in field-goal range.
Seattle also failed to collect a sack after halftime.
Bare-knuckles brawl: Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner is 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds. So, when Packers receiver Greg Jennings took offense to Browner decking him for no reason well down the field, Browner was more than willing to square off against the Packers' rightfully enraged receiver. Jennings charged Browner. Browner stepped toward Jennings and planted his 5-foot-11, 198-pound challenger onto his back. Officials called offsetting penalties.
The Packers' gift: The fourth-quarter pick Wilson threw on a wild rollout to the right turned into a Seahawks first down when Packers linebacker Erik Walden hit Wilson late, drawing a roughing penalty.
Critical challenge: Rodgers appeared to reach the ball across the first-down marker at the Seattle 1-yard line with 9:09 left in the third quarter. Officials ruled him down for no gain, which would have been scored as a sack for zero yards. But the Packers got the conversion when coach Mike McCarthy initiated a successful replay challenge. Green Bay scored on the next play to take a 12-7 lead with 8:44 remaining. The Packers then went for a two-point conversion, but Browner broke up Rodgers' pass.
What's next: The Seahawks visit the St. Louis Rams in Week 4.