They couldn’t get off the field. On two occasions Green Bay left Seattle’s defense breathless, using sustained, momentum-sapping drives of more than seven minutes each to seize control of Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the Seahawks.
With third-string quarterback Charlie Frye starting in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle needed its defense to carry the load. But as it has done all season, Seattle failed to make defensive plays when it needed to.
The Seahawks were particularly ineffective on third down, as the Packers finished an impressive 10-of-18 (56 percent) on third-down conversions.
“They were sort of morale breakers,” said Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill. “It’s tough when they go that far on you without getting a stop, especially on third down. I think we had a good game plan. We knew what was coming, but it was just a matter of stopping it. Their receivers made plays on the ball, and we didn’t. That was the bottom line.”
Seattle led 10-3 and seemed in control of the game with a little over eight minutes left in the first half. Seattle turned a Rocky Bernard fumble recovery after a Julian Peterson sack of Aaron Rodgers into a touchdown when Frye hit tight end John Carlson for a 6-yard score, the rookie’s first NFL touchdown.
However, the Packers tied the game at 10-all with a 13-play, 66-yard drive that took 7:09 off the clock, with Rodgers diving in from a yard out. Green Bay converted three third downs on that drive just before halftime.
In the second half, up 17-10, the Packers put the game away with a 15-play, 84-yard drive that took 7:52 off the clock. Rodgers punctuated that drive by hitting fullback John Kuhn for a 1-yard score on a pass in the flat with 11:28 left to play. The Packers converted three third downs on that drive as well.
Green Bay’s ball-control offense was a departure from the way Seattle’s defense was beaten in its first three losses. Coming into the game, Seattle had given up 24 plays of 20 yards or longer. But on Sunday the Packers controlled the clock, holding onto the ball for 37:26, while the Seahawks had the ball just 22 minutes and 34 seconds. Green Bay ran 71 plays to Seattle’s 49 plays.
“I don’t want to sit here and make excuses,” safety Brian Russell said. “You need to get off the field. You let a good offense have a whole bunch of chances, you’ll come up short. So back to the drawing board, play harder, study more. Those are the only answers I know.”
Playing with a sprained shoulder, Rodgers continued the trend of quarterbacks playing well against Seattle. Rodgers had just the one fumble and finished an efficient 21-of-30 for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
At 1-4 and 21/2 games behind NFC West leader Arizona (4-2), Seattle plays three of its next four games on the road, where it has yet to win a game this season. If the Seahawks are to turn their season around, the defense has to play up to its potential.
“It’s hard to dig out of a 1-3 hole, so it’s especially hard to dig out of a 1-4 hole,” Hill said. “I mean you have to break off three straight just to get back to .500. We can’t keep digging holes for ourselves like this. And the hole is getting deeper.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437