Green Bay Packers 27, Seattle Seahawks 24
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Play of the Day: On 1st-and-10 from the Packers’ 11-yard line early in the second quarter, Seahawks running back Leon Washington took a handoff from Matt Hasselbeck, burst through a wide running lane and into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.
Saw Some Positive Things Out There
Hasselbeck squelched any talk of a possible QB controversy in Seattle, completing 11-of-15 passes for 127 yards and a 120.7 passer rating. Hasselbeck appeared in complete control of the offense, leading the way on two touchdown drives, including one of 80 yards.
Aiding Hasselbeck were wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Mike Williams, who were targeted nine times and produced 8 receptions (4 each) for 104 yards.
Marcus Trufant appears back to his old self, stripping a ball out of the hands of Greg Jennings and providing excellent run support.
Reserve linebackers Tyjuan Hagler (4 tackles, 1 interception) and Dexter Davis (6 tackles, 1 sack/forced fumble/recovery) had outstanding games, and are solidifying roster spots for themselves.
Perhaps inspired by facing his former team, Jon Ryan punted five times for a net average of 45.4 yards. Ryan twice pinned the Packers at their own 1-yard line.
Seahawks kick returners Josh Wilson and Cord Parks each had a 30+-yard return, with Wilson’s 54-yard return after the Packers’ first touchdown providing the offense with excellent field position to respond.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates mixed up the personnel in the second pre-season game, opening with Justin Forsett and Quinton Ganther in the backfield. Results weren’t very positive, as Forsett gained just 4 yards on his first four carries. The offensive line didn’t get much push, and may have potentially suffered a huge blow as Russell Okung left the game after one series with an ankle injury.
After a dropped pass by Deion Branch, Seattle’s passing game took flight, with Hasselbeck completing all four of his passes for 48 yards and a touchdown on the second drive, and 5-of-6 on the following drive for 52 yards, with two other pass attempts falling incomplete but drawing illegal contact and defensive pass interference penalties.
Penalties, including a ticky-tack holding call on Ganther and a legit hands-to-the-face on left tackle Mansfield Wrotto, stalled a potential scoring drive at the end of the first half.
Charlie Whitehurst played the entire second half, crashing back to earth in 12:26 worth of clock possession.
Whitehurst completed just 9 of his 20 pass attempts for 73 yards. Whitehurst was intercepted twice, and not even an easy touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu could rescue his passer rating from being a dismal 31.2 on the night. In addition to his two INTs, including one thrown inside the red zone, Whitehurst made several other dangerous throws, leading second-round pick Golden Tate into a nasty hit from Jarrett Bush, who was flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact.
Tate, who hung onto that pass for 8 yards, avoided injury.
Deon Butler provided the lone second half passing highlight, catching a Whitehurst pass over the middle, and avoiding a handful of Packers defenders for a 21-yard gain on a 3rd-and-4. In addition to a 3-yard touchdown catch, Obomanu had a 17-yard on an end around.
The Seahawks offensive line played reasonably well on Saturday night. The running game averaged 4.2 yards per carry and got into the end zone once, due in large part to textbook blocking by Wrotto, Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, Max Unger, and Sean Locklear. Despite 35 pass attempts, only one sack and 4 quarterback hits were registered by the Packers defense. Overall, though, it’s difficult to gauge how well the line played, as the Packers were without three of their top four linebackers.
Okung’s injury is a major concern. With Ray Willis sidelined indefinitely following knee surgery, the Seahawks lack depth at the offense’s second-most important position, and an inexperienced converted guard could be tasked with protecting the one player—Hasselbeck—critical to the success of the team this season.
Seattle’s defense struggled from the moment they hit the field.
On Green Bay’s first offensive play, Aaron Rodgers had plenty of time to find Greg Jennings, who had gotten behind first-round safety Earl Thomas, for 56 yards. Two plays later, Rodgers was able to hit Jermichael Finley for 12 yards on a 3rd-and-8, which set up Rodgers’ one-yard touchdown pass to Jon Kuhn.
The Packers’ next drive was a bit more methodical, with Rodgers engineering a 12-play, 76-yard drive that ended with him hitting a wide open Finley for a 12-yard score on 3rd-and-6, despite the Seahawks calling timeout before the play, and dropping eight defenders into coverage.
Veteran safety Lawyer Milloy was spotted lecturing Thomas on the sidelines afterward.
Seattle’s first-team defense was able to keep the Packers out of the end zone for the remainder of the first half, but the Packers tacked on a field goal and could have had another, but were flagged for an illegal snap that ended the half.
The Seahawks defense started well in the second half, with fourth-round cornerback Walter Thurmond sticking an arm in to break up a Matt Flynn pass intended for Charles Dillon. The ball bounced high into the air, landing in the arms of veteran linebacker Tyjuan Hagler.
Two drives later, Dexter Davis beat Packers left tackle Allen Barbre for a strip-sack of Flynn. Davis also recovered the fumble, which helped set-up a Clint Stitser field goal.
Seattle’s back-ups surrendered the 7-point lead in the 4th quarter, with Graham Harrell leading a 7-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. A 26-yard run by Brandon Jackson on 3rd-and-1 led to the touchdown, with the umpire missing an obvious hold by Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith on Seahawks defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis.
Though they dressed and went through warm-ups, Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu did not play. Newly acquired defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer injured his left knee and ankle, E.J. Wilson suffered a right shoulder stinger, and Kelly Jennings banged his left elbow.
In addition to the aforementioned performances by Ryan, Wilson, and Parks, Jordan Babineaux, Kennard Cox, and Ruvell Martin played very well on special teams. Babineaux downed Ryan punts at the Packers’ 1-yard line, and Cox made one special teams tackle, got a key Packers special teams player ejected, and recovered a muffed kickoff at the Packers’ 9-yard line.
Clint Stitser converted his one field goal attempt, and all three of his extra point tries, though two were quite adventurous. The first-year player from Fresno State, who is only kicking so Olindo Mare can rest a sore calf muscle, does not appear to have a very strong leg.
Long-snapper Clint Gresham might not be the answer. His snaps on extra points and field goals were sharp and consistent, but he labored to get the ball back to Ryan on punts. Three times Ryan had to pick a snap off the FieldTurf at Qwest Field, and the three other snaps (one negated by penalty) were slow and allowed the Packers rush to get fairly close to Ryan. There are several veterans (Matt Katula, Bryan Pittman) and the club may want to take a look at what Matt Overton can do in a game situation.
Seattle only forced one punt, which Golden Tate returned for no gain.
Wins and losses don’t matter in August, even less so when the off-season’s biggest acquisition left after three plays with an ankle injury. Okung played in 52 games at Oklahoma State University, and he played through a high ankle sprain as a senior. Okung’s ability to play through that injury, as well as a sprained knee before the Cotton Bowl, may offer a glimpse at both his pain threshold and his ability to recover from injuries.
High ankle sprains are tricky deals, and recovery times vary from player-to-player. In 2009, Josh Wilson and Sean Locklear had high ankle sprains. Wilson returned in two weeks, Locklear in two months. We won’t know how long Okung will be sidelined until Monday, but Carroll’s grim demeanor in his post-game press conference suggests that Okung will miss at least the regular season opener.
As for the rest of the team, it’s difficult to offer an assessment due to the amount of personnel shuffling that was done on both sides of the ball, as personnel evaluation may have been their highest priority last night.
When Okung left the game, Seattle paired Mike Gibson with Wrotto on the left side of the offensive line. Quinton Ganther got all the first-team reps at fullback, while Owen Schmitt played the second half. Golden Tate and Deon Butler didn’t play in the first half, and at one point in the second half, the Seahawks had three safeties—Kam Chancellor, Jamar Adams, and Kevin Ellison— on the field at the same time.
With two games of evaluation under their belts, perhaps they’ll show more on both sides of the ball when they face Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night.