For the first time in Russell Wilson’s career, the Seattle Seahawks have been shut out. The Green Bay Packers’ defense pulled off a second tremendous performance after limiting Patrick Mahomes a week ago, but this week the Green Bay offense did its job and delivered enough points for a win.
Although Aaron Rodgers threw for nearly 300 yards in his return, he was helped out significantly by his running backs — particularly AJ Dillon, the star of the game for the offense. Dillon ran for 66 yards and both of the Packers’ touchdowns, adding 62 yards on two receptions. Aaron Jones would leave the game with a knee injury, but he pitched in with 61 yards on four catches of his own and another 25 yards on the ground.
The Packers’ offense was an uninspiring 2-for-5 in the red zone again in this game, however, but it is the defense that will be the story coming out of Sunday’s win. Green Bay limited Seattle to just 208 total yards of offense, sacking Wilson three times and intercepting two passes in the end zone. Those picks came from Kevin King and Adrian Amos, while the team as a whole broke up a total of seven passes in the game.
In the end, Mason Crosby’s first-half field goal would have been enough points to give Green Bay the victory thanks to the tremendous defensive performance. It was truly a team effort, with five different players recording tackles for loss and no one player having more than five total tackles. This is arguably the finest two-game stretch of defense for any Packers team since the 2010 season, and Joe Barry’s unit is making a definitive statement to the rest of the NFL that it is real, and it is spectacular.
The Packers return to the top spot in the NFC standings after this win, thanks in part to a 34-10 loss by the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers also got favorable results from some other games around the conference on Sunday, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints also losing this afternoon to push them down to 6-3 and 5-4, respectively.
The Packers were in position to get on the board on the game’s opening drive, but the field goal unit failed to convert a makeable attempt once again. A 41-yard throw from Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling up the left sideline converted the Packers’ first third down attempt of the game, but a questionable holding penalty on Elgton Jenkins wiped out a Rodgers scramble for a first down. That led to a 42-yard attempt for Mason Crosby, but despite an apparent good snap and hold, his kick sliced wide right. That was Crosby’s third straight miss after a pair in last week’s game.
The two teams would trade punts for the rest of the first quarter. The Packers’ defense got a three-and-out on Seattle’s first offensive series, with the team forcing pressure on Wilson early. A third down scramble was originally ruled a first down, but the referees moved the chains back to rule Seattle just short at their own 41-yard line and Pete Carroll surprisingly brought out the punt team on fourth down and a foot. Green Bay would then pin Seattle deep in their own territory after AJ Dillon was stuffed on an inside zone run on third-and-short, but De’Vondre Campbell’s tackle for loss on a flea flicker-turned-tight end screen and a Whitney Mercilus sack, his first as a Packer, forced Seattle to punt again on their second drive.
Seattle would punt again after another quick three-and-out, with the two teams combining for five punts and just five first downs before the end of the first quarter.
Finally at the start of the second quarter, the Packers’ offense got into a groove. AJ Dillon’s running picked up a few first downs, a few on the ground and one on a 12-yard screen pass, before Rodgers found Davante Adams for a 34-yard gain over the middle. Rodgers would scramble for a conversion on 3rd-and-7 just inside the red zone, but the Packers had to settle for another field goal attempt. Crosby hit this time from 27 yards out to give Green Bay a 3-0 lead.
A timely sack by Rashan Gary on third down stopped yet another Seahawks drive, forcing their fourth punt in as many series. The Packers would reach midfield before an awkward fumbled snap by Rodgers, who would fall on the football at the same time as Seattle’s L.J. Collier. With the official ruling simultaneous possession, the ball stayed with the Packers, who would pick up a third down conversion on swing pass to Aaron Jones. Green Bay would fail to move the chains on a 4th-and-2 opportunity with a minute left in the first half, however, with cornerback Tre Brown breaking up an on-target pass to Allen Lazard to deny the Packers a chance at more points.
Instead, Seattle got the last possession of the half, moving the ball into Packers territory with a few short passes. A holding penalty on right guard Damien Lewis with Seattle at the 35-yard line forced the Seahawks to settle for a Hail Mary attempt instead of a field goal, and Wilson’s attempt landed harmlessly in the end zone to keep the score 3-0 at the half.
The two teams traded punts to start the third quarter, but Seattle’s second drive saw their offense start to find a bit of a rhythm. The Seahawks converted a pair of third downs to get inside the red zone, but on a 3rd-and-10 from the 12, Wilson’s ability to escape pressure cost the Seahawks points. He avoided pressure from Preston Smith, but he threw to a covered Metcalf in the end zone and Kevin King picked him off. King hauled in the ball and had possession after being taken to the ground, then had the ball knocked out of his hands, but after a review, the referees confirmed the interception as King preserved the Packers’ 3-0 lead.
The Packers suffered a significant loss on the drive, however, as Whitney Mercilus left the game after narrowly missing a sack on Wilson.
Green Bay would get the screen game working after the turnover, as Aaron Jones ripped off gains of 23 and 24 yards up the left side. But like Wilson, Rodgers would throw an uncharacteristically sloppy pass near the end zone on third down. Under intense pressure, he lofted a pass into the back of the end zone for Josiah Deguara, but the off-balance pass landed comfortably in the hands of safety Jamal Adams for an interception.
After yet another Seattle three-and-out, the Packers took over and finally found the end zone. It was a pyrrhic victory, however, as Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury on the opening play of the drive and did not return to the game. Green Bay got some assistance from Seattle’s Carlos Dunlap, who threw a Packer’s shoe several yards after a play and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as a result. AJ Dillon would finally plow into the end zone, driving through Bobby Wagner on his way to the goal line on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Elgton Jenkins joined Dillon for a Lambeau Leap as the score pushed the Packers’ lead to 10-0.
The Packers would lose another defender on the Seahawks’ next series, as Rashan Gary suffered a significant arm injury. His right arm was caught up and twisted in a pile, and CBS would not replay the injury, a sure sign that it was a bad one. Adrian Amos would deny Wilson a deep shot, picking off a deep throw into the end zone for Tyler Lockett. He and Darnell Savage had bracket coverage on Lockett, and Amos tracked the football perfectly for the pick.
A massive 50-yard gain by Dillon on a swing pass up the sideline jolted the offense, while Patrick Taylor got his first NFL snaps on offense with Dillon needing a bit of a breather. Dillon would punch in his second touchdown of the day from two yards out on the first play after the two-minute warning, sealing the deal on the victory.
At that point, it was on the defense to try to preserve a shutout. A late Preston Smith sack effectively did the trick, forcing Seattle into a long fourth-down attempt with seconds left on the clock. The Packers kept the Seahawks’ receivers in front of them, allowing a short completion as time ticked off the clock to keep Seattle off the scoreboard.
Jones’ injury is initially believed to be a sprained MCL, which would likely sideline him for a few weeks. However, that likely would not be season-ending, though he will probably miss at least a handful of games. Mercilus’ is somewhat more concerning for his long-term availability, however, as a torn biceps seems most likely. That would all but assuredly knock him out for the remainder of the season. Gary, meanwhile, was ruled questionable to return to the game late, suggesting that his arm injury may indeed be relatively minor. Stay tuned for updates on all three players in the coming hours and days.
Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Packers reclaimed the top spot in the NFC at 8-2. Green Bay will face the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.