8:30 PM ET, September 4, 2014
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
The Seattle Seahawks benefited from a memorable, but controversial, call to beat Green Bay the last time the Packers visited in 2012.
As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks have since proved they're capable of handling the NFL's top teams on their own while rising to the top of the league.
Eager to build on their championship season, the Seahawks face the Packers in front of what's sure to be a raucous crowd Thursday night.
"We've all been waiting to get this thing started," coach Pete Carroll, whose team is 15-1 at home during the regular season the past two years, told the Seahawks' official website.
A team that led the NFL in scoring defense (14.4 points per game) and average yards allowed (273.6), capped a stellar 13-3 season by stymieing Peyton Manning and Denver's league-leading offense in the 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII rout.
"They play with a lot of confidence, have a little swagger about `em, and it's a tough place to play," Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Lynch has rushed for 4,624 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season since joining the Seahawks in 2010.
A hip injury limited Harvin to one regular-season game in 2013, but he recovered from that and a concussion in time to rush twice for 45 yards and return the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a TD in the Super Bowl.
Wilson, meanwhile, posted a 101.2 passer rating that was seventh in the NFL last season. His 112.8 rating at home the last two seasons trails only Drew Brees and Manning. His 31 TDs during that span are tied for fourth.
He also looked sharp guiding an offense that recorded nine touchdowns and two field goals in 13 possessions with him on the field in four preseason games.
"I think you have to be very impressed with their offense," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "On Russell Wilson and their ability to stay in favorable down and distance and keep the mix of the run and the pass.
"They've always been outstanding running the football, but they look like they're a lot more balanced now."
That's one of many challenges facing the Packers, but another they confidently welcome on a primetime stage.
"We knew when the (2013) season was over that we were traveling to play Seattle. So, heck, why not do it Week 1," McCarthy said.
The last time the teams met in Seattle, the Seahawks concluded a 14-12 victory Sept. 24, 2012, in a much-talked about fashion.
With the clock winding down, Wilson heaved a desperation pass from Green Bay's 39-yard line into the end zone and the replacement officials ruled that Golden Tate scored while gaining simultaneous possession with defensive back M.D. Jennings. The play instantly became known as "The Fail Mary," and within days the NFL settled its labor dispute with referees.
"Those things happen," Carroll said. "It's what makes us keep coming back. We love the games. We watch so much because of the surprise and the uniqueness of the experience all the time."
With Tate in Detroit and Jennings in Chicago, neither can reminisce about the moment Thursday, and it likely won't be on the mind of those current Packers come kickoff.
With Rodgers prepared to play a full season after missing seven games with a collarbone injury and reigning offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy in the backfield, the Packers expect to again be balanced while challenging for a fourth straight NFC North title.
In limited time, Rodgers ranked fifth with a 104.9 passer rating while throwing for 2,536 yards with 17 TDs and six interceptions.
Lacy finally provided the Packers with some balance as they tied for fourth in the league at 4.7 yards per carry and ranked seventh averaging 133.5 per contest after averaging no more than 106.4 the previous three seasons.
Lacy's 1,178 yards ranked eighth and his 11 touchdowns were third in the NFL.
"We're going to try to go out and do what we do best and that's our no-huddle," said Nelson, who set career highs with 85 catches and 1,314 yards last season.
"Speed the tempo up and try to be successful."
The Packers' main area of concern again falls on protecting Rodgers, whose 139 times sacked since 2010 are the most among NFC quarterbacks. He was sacked eight times while throwing for 223 yards and no touchdowns at Seattle in 2012.
Green Bay was tied for 24th in scoring defense (26.8 ppg) and 25th in average yards allowed (372.3) last year, but hopes the addition of Julius Peppers and his 118 1/2 career sacks and first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help improve that unit.
Clay Matthews is back after a thumb injury forced him to miss five games and the 23-20 playoff loss to San Francisco.
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji, however, was lost to a season-ending biceps injury.
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|Avg Points Allowed||36.0||16.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||GB|
|Rush Yds Allowed||GB|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 6-4|
|Sep 24, 2012||GB 12, @SEA 14|
|Dec 27, 2009||GB 48, SEA 10|
|Oct 12, 2008||GB 27, @SEA 17|
|Jan 12, 2008||GB 42, SEA 20|
|Nov 27, 2006||GB 24, @SEA 34|
|Jan 1, 2006||GB 23, SEA 17|
|Jan 4, 2004||GB 33, SEA 27|
|Oct 5, 2003||GB 35, SEA 13|
The Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times in Week 3 of the 2012 season, with seven of those sacks coming when sending four or fewer pass rushers. Rodgers was much better against standard pressure last season, leading the NFL with 8.9 yards per attempt against four or fewer pass rushers.[+]
Aaron Rodgers By No. of Pass Rushers Last Season
Corey Linsley will be the 6th rookie center to start his team's season opener in the last 5 seasons (not including any rookie center that could start Sunday). Of the previous 5 players, only Jason Kelce was drafted later than Linsley, and each center's team committed at least 1 false start penalty in the game.[+]
On Tuesday Russell Wilson spoke about making improvements ... "My goal is still to get the ball to the right guy at the right time ... I'm getting so quick on my reads. I'm reading the coverage so quickly and protections and all that. I've really grown a lot. He's on the right track, because in his first 2 seasons in the NFL, he has been the slowest quarterback in the league at getting rid of the ball, and has been sacked at the highest rate.[+]
Russell Wilson Last 2 Seasons
Green Bay rookie center Corey Linsley was thrown into a starting role when J.C. Tretter went down with a knee injury during training camp. That's bad news for the Packers, especially going against the defending champs who are dominant at home. Seattle is 17-1 at home in the last 2 seasons (including the playoffs) and have won by an average of 15.8 points. The lone loss was to the Cardinals, a 17-10 in Week 16 last season. Arizona scored a touchdown with 2 minutes left and converted a 2-point conversion. The Seahawks margin of victory is the highest in the NFL since 2012.[+]
Highest PPG Diff at Home - Since 2012 (Including Playoffs)
With rookie Corey Linsley starting for the Packers tonight in Seattle... Linsley started all 26 games at center for Ohio State in 2012 and 2013 including 4 ROAD games at Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan... In those 4 road contests, Ohio State committed a TOTAL of 3 false start/offensive holding/delay of game penalties and rushed for an average of 242.5 yards per game (5.3 yds/rush).
In the first half, Russell Wilson was 5-for-5 for 78 yards and a TD against 5+ pass rushers. He completed 64% of his passes against the blitz last season, 4th best in the NFL.
All 7 of Marshawn Lynch's rushes (for 59 yards) came between the tackles. Last season, Lynch was 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards between the tackles (995), trailing only McCoy and Peterson.
The Seahawks will try to become the first team to successfully defended their Super Bowl title since the 2004 Patriots. The streak of nine consecutive seasons without a back-to-back champion is tied for the longest in the 94-year history of the NFL.[+]
Most Consecutive Seasons Without Back-to-Back Champion - NFL History
Percy Harvin's 3 receptions in the 1st quarter were more than he had in the entire 2013 season (1).
In the 1st quarter, Aaron Rodgers completed 6-of-6 passes thrown 10 yards or fewer downfield, but was 0-for-2 on passes longer than 10 yards.
Ricardo Lockette's 33-yard touchdown reception was the second of his career and first since Week 17 of 2011.
Aaron Rodgers did not throw Richard Sherman's way once on Thursday. Rodgers completed 5-of-7 passes for 6 yards to the right side, with Randall Cobb's 3-yard touchdown reception the only completion to a wide receiver. He did not attempt a pass to a wide receiver outside the right painted numbers, where Sherman was lined up.
--The Seahawks held Eddie Lacy to 34 rushing yards (2.8 yards per rush) Thursday night. Last season, Lacy was 4th in the NFL with 531 rushing yards after contact, but was limited to 16 yards after contact against the Seahawks. The Packers were 0-3 last season in games when Lacy was limited to less than 3.0 yards per rush. --Both of Wilson's touchdown passes Thursday also came when the Packers sent five or more pass rushers. Wilson completed 8-of-13 passes for 104 yards against the blitz. --The Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers three times Thursday, all with four or fewer pass rushers. In their 2012 meeting, Rodgers was sacked a career-high tying eight times, seven of which came via standard pressure.
In the first half, Aaron Rodgers was 14-of-15 on throws 10 yards or fewer downfield, and 0-of-3 on throws 11+ yards downfield.
Aaron Rodgers' average pass in the first half traveled 5.1 yards downfield. Rodgers has had two games in his career with a shorter average pass, one of which was the loss in Seattle in 2012 (4.8).
This is Marshawn Lynch's 5th straight game with a rush touchdown (including playoffs). Lynch has a TD in 7 of his last 8 games.
The Seahawks improve to 8-0 under Pete Carroll in home prime time games. The only game decided by single digits was the Fail Mary game in 2012. Since that game, Seattle has won its home night games by an average of 26 points.[+]
Seattle in Home Night Games under Pete Carroll
The Seahawks' last two opponents featured the top two quarterbacks since 2010 in terms of Total QBR. Their defense held both Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers to subpar performances.[+]
The Seahawks rushed for 207 yards Thursday night, their most ever in a season opener.[+]
Most Rush Yds in Season Opener
Percy Harvin combined for 100 total yards in his first full regular-season game since joining the Seahawks. Harvin led all receivers with 35 yards after the catch (as many as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb combined for the Packers). Harvin was also featured in the running game, turning four rushes outside the tackles into 41 yards. Seattle wide receivers combined for 35 rushing yards during the entire 2013 regular season.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards against the Packers Thursday. Lynch's 94 yards between the tackles is his highest total since the beginning of last season (including playoffs).[+]
--The Packers were unable to bring down Lynch once contacting him, allowing 2.0 yards after contact per rush. They gave up the most yards after contact per rush (1.8) last season.
Marshawn Lynch Rushing, Thursday vs Packers
ESPN Stats & Information