This NFL Title Games was one for the ages. The battle was not a back and forth one between the Packers and Seahawks. It was a beat down from the jump and the recipient of the beating was the defending Super Bowl Champs. The champs only managed to get off the mat with about five minutes to go in the game. And off the mat they came, with thunderous momentum.
Green Bay opened the game with the ball on a windy rainy day in Seattle with the 12th man as loud as one can imagine in an NFL stadium. Aaron Rodgers looked good in the early part of the game even with the calf injury. Eddie Lacy had a big run of 13 yards on this drive and Adams and Cobb caught a couple of nice passes as well. Rodgers did make a dangerous attempt to Jordy Nelson that fell incomplete. Rodgers wasn’t going to avoid Sherman as he had done in the regular season. He paid the price though as Sherman picked #12 off in the end zone.
Seattle’s offense had their shot after the turnover, but quickly realized they were up against a formidable defense themselves. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix snatched the ball out of the air after a Russell Wilson pass bounced off his wide out Kearse. Green Bay was set up in nice field position with the INT, but a dumb 15 yard penalty backed them up. One of many plays that added up to disaster in the end for the Pack.
Green Bay managed to get to the one yard line on this short drive, but their fullback Kuhn’s score was reversed on the replay and they opted to kick a short field goal with the ball just a breath away from the goal line. A decision that would add to the pile for the Packers later. 3-0 Packers.
Seattle’s Doug Baldwin yakked up the ball on his kickoff return and the Packers recovered it for their second turnover recovery of the game. Momentum was on Green Bay’s side most of this game.
Eddie Lacy was gashing the Seattle defense behind some amazing blocking by the Packs’ O-line. Rodgers had Nelson in the end zone for a sure TD but the receiver slipped on his cut just enough to throw the timing off and wasn’t able to make the catch for six. Again Green Bay kicks a field goal, making me wonder if threes would be enough to slay the champs at home. 6-0 Packers.
Seattle gets the ball back only to go three and out with Wilson experiencing a rare thing, a sack.
The Pack moved the ball effectively this drive with Lacy continuing to wear down the Seattle defense. He was in minibeast mode. Jordy Nelson got in the mix as well. The rain kept coming during the entire game even though it appeared sunny. They wrapped this drive up with a Randall Cobb TD reception on a free play with Seattle offsides. 13-0 Pack, champs reeling. 12th man queasy.
The Seahawks were hurt by turnovers and penalties all game long. This drive was no different and ended with a punt after no first downs. Russell Wilson was as inaccurate as I have seen him.
The Packers got a big punt return to set up nice field position. Another free play was missed on a deep pass to Adams on second down. Cobb dropped a third down pass, but another Hawks penalty moved the chains for the cheeseheads. They ran Lacy and Cobb even got a carry, but the drive stalled one yard short of a first down and another field goal of 40 yards was made. 16-0 Packers.
Seattle should have been settled down at this point if nerves were an issue. They had been hit in the mouth pretty hard and that usually wakes up the favorite in big games. But no. Wilson launches an ill advised deep ball in double coverage and Clinton-Dix gets his second interception of the day. Wilson had zero completions at this point! The quarterback also got smacked very hard by Clay Matthews on a block during the interception. He may not have had a concussion, but he surely was affected by the hit.
Green Bay failed to capitalize on this mistake by the Hawks. No Lacy on this drive but Nelson had a nice 23 yard catch. Rodgers then threw his second INT in the rain soaked game. The weather was a huge factor in the turnover column, with 5 total for both teams at this early point.
Seattle finally got their offense going this possession with the run game. Lynch runs as hard as any back I have ever seen. I can’t put into words how much that means to his O-line, the fans, and the guys watching from the sidelines. His contribution to the Seahawks’ success can not be overstated. Wilson still had not had a signature scramble in the game though. They moved the ball all the way to the Green Bay 18 only to have Wilson throw a bad pass that was picked again. That’s three in the first half.
Green Bay did little on the drive that came after the Wilson pick and punted it back. Seattle fared no better on the last drive before the half with Wilson getting dropped for a loss during the failed possession. 16-0 the halftime score in favor of the Packers. I thought at this point that Dom Capers, defensive coordinator of Green Bay would be getting lucky when he got home. His D was dominant!
Both teams started out with punts on consecutive drives to begin the new half. By the way, Aaron Rodgers was 40-1 when having at least a 16 point lead.
Seattle put together a good drive the next shot they got. Lynch looked even better than in the first half, like Pete Carroll hit him in the heart with an adrenaline needle Pulp Fiction style in the locker room. Wilson took another sack during the drive in which Mathews made a play on the QB that 1% of linebackers could make. Lynch was unable to haul in the ball on a sideline pass and Seattle had to go for a FG. Only the field goal turned into a fake with the holder Ryan juking the defense into thinking he was running, only to lob it up to eligible lineman Gilliam for a touchdown. That led to an eruption from the number 12’s. Seattle with life at 16-7.
Rodgers looked ultra cool as he trotted on the field to try and match the Hawks last score, which came on special teams mind you. However the Pack punted after three plays, but Seattle did the same once they had a shot.
The Packers moved the ball better next as James Starks rested Lacy. Rodgers missed Starks on a sideline route that could have been six points. A 48 yard field goal in wet conditions put the visitors up 19-7.
Seattle had a long drive next that ended in a punt nonetheless. Wilson was sacked once again as the defender leaped on him like a grizzly bear. The Pack must have practiced catching a chicken all week, as they had great success catching the elusive Wilson.
I felt like Green Bay needed just a couple of first downs to end this thing, but they went three and out again. Wilson did nothing with the opportunity as he threw INT number four with just five minutes left to go.
This is where the train veered off the track for the Packers. They ran three straight plays which only burned about a minute off the clock. They punted after three and out. Conservative play calling, but I would have thought they could hold a twelve point lead with so little time left and Seattle’s offense a non factor.
Seattle showed why they are the champs on the next drive. Wilson hits Baldwin for a big gain then Lynch catches a pass that went for a TD. The score was reversed with a replay though. But no matter, the Hawks were not to be denied. Wilson scored from the one a few plays later after Lynch gobbled up a few more yards. 19-14 and Aaron Rodgers looks less relaxed than he did a few drives ago.
The onside kick was coming and everyone knew it. The Packers’ could not gather the ball in and the tipped pigskin was recovered by Seattle’s Mathews. Panic had to be setting in among the 104,000 cheeseheads living in the hometown of the Pack. A game of inches is the best definition of this play and the game of football as usual.
Russell Wilson looked like his old self as he moved his crew down the field. Luke Wilson had a key catch for a first down and Lynch was busy electrifying the crowd as usual. #24 scored on an epic run behind even better blocking with 1:25 left in the NFC Title Game. The stadium was crunk, even though later photos showed some number 12’s standing outside the building watching on TV screens, having left early. The two point try was the wildest play of the game with Wilson in a mad scramble back and forth then finally finding Luke Wilson at the goal line to get in for two, making it 22-19 champs. Why Clinton-Dix didn’t make a play on the lofted ball I have no clue. The lack of aggression was a team wide issue for the Pack.
Rodgers, no longer the picture of cool, did manage to move the offense close enough for a long field goal. The attempt was good and the game stood tied at 22. Overtime!
Seattle won the toss and needed a touchdown to close the game out without Rodgers ever getting a chance to get back on the field. That is exactly what happened as the Packers defense had held off the Hawks as long as possible and finished the Green Bay collapse on the next six plays. Wilson went assassin as he carved up the Packers for a 10 yarder then a 35 yard pass. With hammer in hand, Wilson delivered the final nail in the Packers’ coffin, hitting Jermaine Kearse perfectly on a 35 yard strike for the score! Kearse made a historic catch with a Packers defender draped on his back. 28-22, Seahawks awaken from the dead to win in epic fashion and head to their second Super Bowl in two years.
This comeback did not happen as the result of one play. It was a culmination of several letdowns by the Packers and an incredible will to win from Seattle. Troy Aikman called it the most improbable win he has ever witnessed. Erin Andrews was on the verge of crying as she interviewed the sobbing Russell Wilson right after the game. I had goosebumps myself witnessing the biggest comeback in NFC Title Game history.
This game was what makes sports great and a lot like life. There are ups and downs as we go, but the reason we should jump out of the bed each day was on display in Seattle. There is always that chance for redemption and greatness.