What an ass kicking. Seattle is a very good team and I have a lot of respect for them, but their defense either didn't show up or were dominated by a clearly superior opponent. Their offense didn't do much either, but everyone knew they can't run the ball and their offense is one-dimensional. QB Matt Hasselbeck was let down by a defense that couldn't get off the field and a tight end that couldn't hang onto or catch the ball.
On the Packers, there were only two potential goats, RBs Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson, and they both went back out and redeemed themselves plus one in this game. Everyone played lights out. Don't forget the coaches who did such a great job getting these guys ready and Mike McCarthy for calling a great game that kept Seattle's defense off balance.
- RB Ryan Grant fumbles twice on his first three catches/carries. It scared me because I thought I was looking at the beginning of the redux of the 2003 playoff loss to Atlanta which was a five turnover disaster that ended the mystique of playoff games at Lambeau. Also, I wondered if this was the end for Grant. He had one fumble charged to him all season, and he has two in the first four minutes of the playoffs. Sometimes those things mess with a player's head and he's never the same, but instead it took him about 10 minutes to get over it.
- It looked like penalties would play a role against the Packers too. After the second fumble, LB Nick Barnett starts the drive with a stupid pass interference penalty. Later LB Brady Poppinga jumps offsides on 3rd down to give Seattle a second chance. But instead the Packers end the game with only five penalties.
- Despite the falling snow, Hasselbeck is accurate on two consecutive passes over 15 yards and the second one is the TD pass to WR Bobby Engram.
- One low point for the FOX announcing crew. Moose Johnston says that RB Shawn Alexander is running the best he's seen in weeks because he isn't getting knocked down by weak arm tackles. Alexander ends the game with 9 carries for 20 yards.
- Seattle's offensive line was good in pass protection, but they couldn't get any push on running plays (that's nothing new). LT Walter Jones took DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila out of the game, he had half a sack when DE Cullen Jenkins busted through and forced Hasselbeck out of the pocket, and DE Aaron Kampman couldn't get past RT Sean Locklear. Seattle's interior o-line has struggled badly this season, so they did let Jenkins and DT Corey Williams get some pressure up the middle, but the pass rush really only came when the Packers blitzed.
- Favre brings them back from the brink. It's only four minutes into the game, but the team needs him badly. He didn't do it alone out there, and the entire offense deserves credit for the rally.
- Long run by WR James Jones. This play was a perfect example of why you should not blitz. Seattle blitzed, but it was picked up and Favre found Jones running wide open across the middle of the field with only DE Patrick Kerney chasing him on a zone blitz. Jones has been a forgotten man for the last several weeks since the return of WR Koren Robinson really created a glut of quality wide receivers to choose from. This is what Jones did so well in the preseason; run across the field and make good yards after the catch. He didn't have a big part in the game, but this long reception was the first sign of life, and a similar route by Jones right before the half converted a big 3rd down to set up the Packers 4th TD.
- Teams can't leave WR Greg Jennings in single coverage along the sidelines because Favre loves to throw it to him. Favre wanted Jennings to become his big play receiver last season, but Jennings' ankle injury and the rookie learning curve conspired against them. This season Jennings has more TD receptions than any other Packer receiver and good things usually happens when he gets in single coverage. On his first TD, S Brian Russell bit on the run and left Greg Jennings in single coverage against CB Kelly Jennings. It was a quick move and pass, but without inside help, Kelly had no chance against Greg.
- Great stretchhhhhhh by TE Bubba Franks for a 1st down. It was his only catch of the game, but he also played a big part in preventing DE Patrick Kerney from having any impact on this game with his blocking.
- Then RB Ryan Grant begins to redeem himself. Over at Field Gulls they were worried because Seattle tended to overpursue. Grant wouldn't cut back, but Seattle's linebackers would get blocked and move with the play as it flowed left or right while Grant would run straight at the spots where they had been standing. He has outstanding vision at finding the creases and holes between his blockers.
- S Atari Bigby was the NFC defensive player for December and he carried it into January. He's hit or miss because he's often well away from a play but then he runs like hell to get back into it. Sometimes he's right on, but sometimes he's too late and that has led to a number of personal fouls/pass interference calls this season. Today he was right on time and made some big hits. The first was victim was Pollard when Bigby ran about 15 yards and put a lick on him that forced a fumble.
- S Jordan Babineaux can't cover Jennings along the sidelines in single coverage either, and Favre throws a perfect touch pass for the 3rd TD.
- RB Brandon Jackson runs into the punter for a 15 yard penalty to keep a rare Seattle scoring drive alive. It ends when WR D.J. Hackett hears Bigby's footsteps and drops a 3rd down pass, and they settle for a field goal.
- A lot of players had a role in the 4th TD of the half, but the big highlight play was Favre's scramble to his right when he stumbles and still managed to flip an underhand pass to TE Donald Lee for a 1st down. Two running plays later and Grant has his 2nd TD run of the first half. Starting FB Korey Hall made it back from an injury he sustained a few weeks ago, and played a lot in this game in a T formation backfield alongside backup FB John Kuhn with a running back behind them. The Packers had run out of that formation a lot this season with little success, but against Seattle it worked almost every time for a few yards. That doesn't sound like a glowing endorsement, but after watching it fail almost every time this season, it was shocking to see it gain some tough yards in this game.
- Another big game ball to the offensive line. Seattle's defensive ends had been providing a lot of pressure all season, but LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher took them out of the passing game and they could run right at them too. Seattle's DT Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane are good against the run, but backup LG Daryn Colledge alongside starting C Scott Wells and RG Jason Spitz kept them out of the backfield and pushed them around all game long.
- Back-to-back 24 yard plays by Grant and Jennings, after the defense held Seattle to a three and out to open the second half, and the Packers are back in scoring position. Favre throws a little pass in the flat to Jackson for the 5th TD. It was Favre's first TD pass to a back all season, which isn't a big surprise since the wide receivers are the stars of McCarthy's pass offense while the backs are just there for the check down. It was also redemption time for Jackson who ran into the punter for a 15 yard penalty earlier. Jackson also made up for it on special teams too with a couple of big hits on kick returns.
- Seattle responds with their last scoring drive. Hasselbeck did well spreading the ball around to different receivers while the snow was falling hard, but the TD pass goes right through Pollard's hands in the end zone. That would have been a killer for me if I was rooting for Seattle. Maybe Pollard heard Bigby's footsteps again. Instead Seattle has the ball for over 7 minutes, they only had the ball for 26 minutes in the entire game, and they have to settle for a field goal.
- With almost 18 minutes left to go in the game, the Packers only throw three passes the rest of the game as the snow continues to fall harder. Seattle should know the runs are coming, but the Packers are rolling and Grant rips off a 43 yard run to the left and Jackson follows it with a 10 yard run to the right. A stupid roughing the passer penalty against Seattle, and two runs later it's the Packers 6th TD. LB Leroy Hill had a great season for Seattle, and his stats look good in this game with 10 tackles and Seattle's only sack (when Favre was scrambling and only made it back to the line of scrimmage), but his late hit on Favre was the call that ended any chance Seattle had to get back into the game.
- Seattle almost got a drive going on their next possession but Hasselbeck went for a big play on a 3rd and 1 with a sideline pass to WR Nate Burleson, but CB Tramon Williams made a great play in coverage to deflect the pass and force the punt.
- The game was over with 8 minutes to go and Seattle down by 22 points, but Pollard capped off his game from hell with another pass that went right through his hands. The Packers would have won even if Pollard had come up with those two dropped passes and one fumble, but he cost them between 11 to 18 points and the game could have been a lot closer.
- Seattle gave it one more chance in the last 8 minutes, which didn't go so well with a sack of Hasselbeck on the first play that moved them back to their 8 yard line, but most of the time was spent by both teams just running out the clock.