GREEN BAY, Wisc. – For the second straight week, the Seahawks overcame an early deficit and a number of self-inflicted wounds to take the lead in a tough road game, but for the second straight week, they also fell just a bit short, this time losing 27-17 to the Packers at Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
"Really disappointed in the finish," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We've been so good at finishing, really that's something we take great pride in. We had a chance in both of these games to win the football game with a lead, and we need to protect it properly and do better. We try to do right longer, and that didn't show up."
As was the case in a loss to the St. Louis Rams a week earlier, the Seahawks did a lot of things well, but they also made a lot of costly mistakes that, against a team as talented as Green Bay, were too much to overcome. That leads our five takeaways from Sunday's loss, which was the Seahawks' first double-digit loss since Week 9 of the 2011 season.
1. Too many costly mistakes are costing the Seahawks.
It looked like the Seahawks defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, but that encouraging start was wiped out by a 12-men-on-the-field penalty, and eventually the Packers turned that error into a touchdown drive. Defensive end Michael Bennett also jumped offside three times in the first half and twice on that drive, giving Aaron Rodgers free plays, which he turned into a 22-yard gain and a 29-yard touchdown. Later in the half, Bennett's third offside call led to Rodgers taking a shot down field, a play that resulted in a 52-yard pass interference call on Richard Sherman, setting up a field goal.
The offense had its struggles in the first half, managing just a field goal, and while it did get going it the second half, there were two fourth-quarter turnovers.
"We have to get out of our way right now," Carroll said. "We're not doing that well. We're not playing good enough ball to just play good and clean and sharp and let our football show itself. The 50-yard penalty, jumping offside three times on a hard count that we worked on all week long. We knew they had it, we respected the heck out of it, we practiced the heck out of it, and we still let that happen. They did a great job taking advantage of that. (Aaron Rodgers) is great at it, we knew it, and they still did it to us, that's disappointing. We can be better at that. It feels like we're not as clean as we need to be."
Bennett agreed with Carroll's assessment, saying, "We're in our own way right now, that's a great way to put it As good as that team is, we still had a chance to win with as many mistakes as we've made."
2. The offense again showed improvement in the second half.
As was the case in St. Louis, the Seahawks struggled to get going on offense in the first half against the Packers, punting on four of five possessions. Russell Wilson and the offense came out clicking in the second half, however, driving 80 and 54 yards for touchdowns on their first two possessions to give Seattle the lead. After being held to 104 first-half yards, the Seahawks had 220 in the second half, and Wilson completed 12 of 20 attempts for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception after completing just six passes for 62 yards in the first half.
Wilson also had 65 of his 78 rushing yards in the second half, helping open things up for the offense.
Part of the increase in passing numbers was a shift to more pass-heavy play-calling because the Seahawks were losing, but a big part of it too was Wilson having more time to throw the ball.
"I thought (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) and (offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable) did a really good job adjusting," Carroll said. "We pass-protected really well in the second half. We decided to throw the football more and use that approach just thinking we might be able to control the game differently. It worked out fine. We didn't have to go no-huddle to do it, it wasn't that. Our tempo was good, the throwing and catching was excellent, and the pass protection was available to us… We shifted gears a bit to take advantage of what was available."
3. Doug Baldwin was a definite bright spot.
While there were questions about the lack of passes thrown to Jimmy Graham, who had just one catch for 11 yards—Carroll said they're trying to get Graham the ball, it just didn't go his way in this game—there were plenty of good things about the passing game as well. As noted above, Wilson got going in the second half, tight end Luke Willson had a couple of nice catches, and Baldwin had a very good night, catching seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought Russell found a little bit of everybody," Carroll said. "Again the receivers caught the ball beautifully, really come-through, tough catches over the middle, on the sidelines, all kinds of stuff. I think those guys are doing a really nice job for us."
4. The secondary might look different from game to game.
The Seahawks opened the season by debuting a new look in their secondary, having Richard Sherman move from his usual spot at left corner to playing inside as the nickel corner when the Seahawks had three corners on the field, with DeShawn Shead playing left cornerback in those situations.
Against the Packers, however, Sherman stayed on the left side with Marcus Burley playing the nickel role. Not only that, the Seahawks made a change at strong safety, starting Shead in place of Dion Bailey, who started the opener.
Carroll said both changes were dictated by matchups, which means we could see a different look from week to week depending on the opponent. Shead finished the game with eight tackles, while Burley had seven, including a couple of nice open-field tackles that stopped receivers short of first downs.
"Burley played a great game," Sherman said. "He did a great job covering, a great job tackling. He made some huge plays for us."
5. Aaron Rodgers is really, really good.
As much as the Seahawks did hurt themselves with mistakes, the Packers, and their quarterback in particular, deserve plenty of credit. Rodgers, who hasn't thrown an interception at home since the 2012 season, didn't put up huge numbers, but he was efficient, completing 25 of 33 attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
"You've got to give A-Rod credit," Sherman said. "A-Rod's a great quarterback."
Most notably, Rodgers was great at moving in the pocket to buy time, then make big throws down field.
"This game was a scramble football game," Carroll said. "He was running all over the place. Aaron did a fantastic job of controlling the game in that regard. He wasn't sitting in the pocket and ripping stuff, he was moving everywhere. He did a great job of controlling the game in that fashion, so he outdueled us in that, particularly in the first half. Not that he didn't throw some other good stuff, but that was really the key to the game early. Late in the game they went to the quickest, shortest stuff they could get to, and he did a nice job of mixing it and was able to move the sticks. There are few quarterbacks who are that capable, and he pulled it off.
"I like the way we played in a lot of it. We played hard, we got after him, we chased him, we were knocking him around, but he was really special at getting away from us, and that told the story."
Photos from the 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.