Over the course of Pete Carroll and John Schneider's tenure in Seattle, the best trait about the Seahawks might be the way they always find a way to be competitive in games, no matter how bleak things look early.
And on Thursday night, in a game that was crucial to both teams' Wild-Card hopes, things sure did look bleak early, with the Seahawks stumbling out of the gate on the way to an early 14-3 deficit. But as they almost always do, the Seahawks fought their way back, and thanks to a big second half turnarounds by both the offense and the defense, they came back to beat the Green Bay Packers 27-24 in front of 69,007 fans at CenturyLink Field.
Here are five rapid reactions to a win that improved Seattle's record to 5-5:
1. That was not an ideal start, but it's all about the finish for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have been very good on opening drives of late, scoring touchdowns on their first possessions in three of their past four games. On Thursday night, however, things did not start off well at all, with Chris Carson fumbling on the first play from scrimmage, giving the Packers a short field they quickly turned into a 7-0 lead.
But Carson's fumble was hardly the only reason the Seahawks found themselves behind by double digits early. On offense, the Seahawks committed four false starts in the first half, and Russell Wilson missed an open Doug Baldwin in the end zone on a drive that would end in a field goal. On defense, the Seahawks gave up too many big plays early, most notably a 41-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams and a 54-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Robert Tonyan that gave Green Bay an early 14-3 lead.
As they always do, the Seahawks showed plenty of resilience, battling back to take a 17-14 lead late in the half of a game that would stay tight the rest of the way. And unlike recent close games in which the Seahawks have come up short, Wilson and the offense came through in a big way this time, producing the go-ahead touchdown before the defense got a crucial stop, then the offense ran the clock out with a couple of big runs from Mike Davis.
2. Wilson and Carson both bounced back well from slow starts.
While Wilson wasn't at his best early, most notably on that miss to Baldwin, he picked things up late and made some big throws when the Seahawks needed them. He was at his very best on the drive that put Seattle on top 27-24 late in the game, hitting Tyler Lockett on back-to-back perfect throws for gains of 18 and 34 yards. Later in the drive on third-and-9, Wilson threw a strike over the middle to Ed Dickson for a 15-yard touchdown. Overall, Wilson's numbers were again pretty impressive, with him completing 21 of 31 passes for 225 yards, two touchdowns and a 110.3 passer rating.
Carson, meanwhile, took the next handoff following that fumble and held on for a modest 2-yard gain, but with the Seahawks showing faith in him after the miscue, he put together another impressive performance, rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Carson led the way for what was another big day of rushing, with Seattle gaining 173 yards on the ground.
3. Frank Clark is having a huge season, and it was a good day for the pass rush overall.
As maddeningly elusive as Rodgers can be at times—his 54-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter was a prime example—the Seahawks did a good job getting to Green Bay's quarterback on Thursday, particularly on third down. Leading the way, as usual, was Frank Clark, who recorded two more sacks to bring his season total up to 10.0, which matches his career high with six games still to play this season.
Also getting in on the action were Rasheem Green, who recorded his first career sack, fellow rookie Jacob Martin, and Jarran Reed and Austin Calitro, who split a sack.
4. The defense responded very well to those early big plays.
While Rodgers and his offense were bound to make some plays, Seattle's defense for the most part settled in very nicely after Green Bay scored on two of its first three drives—and it could have been three for three if not for a missed field goal.
Following Green Bay's second touchdown of the first quarter, Seattle's defense forced punts on six of the Packers' final eight possessions, including a crucial late-game stop following Dickson's go-ahead touchdown.
The Packers finished the game with 359 yards, but only 114 of those came in the second half. Seattle also held the Packers to just three first downs in the second half.
5. The Seahawks are still looking to turn things around in the turnover department.
While the Seahawks overcame that early turnover and earned an impressive victory, they did so while losing the turnover battle for the third straight week. And for the third straight week, the defense did not force a turnover, a big change for a unit that produced 15 takeaways—Seattle also has one on special teams—through seven games.
Although it does make a big difference when that one offensive turnover comes early in the game, unlike in some close losses this year where fourth-quarter turnovers have helped change momentum.
For the Seahawks 'Salute To Service' game, presented by USAA on Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field, 96-year-old U.S. Air Force combat veteran Staff Sergeant Art Unruh, a B-17 waist gunner for the 32nd Fighter Group during WWII, raised the 12 Flag prior to kickoff. During a six month span in 1944, Unruh participated in 243 hours and 15 minutes of aerial combat. His awards and decorations include a Silver Star, Air Medal, WWII Victory Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. Unruh has lived in Everett, Wash. since 1952 and serves as a docent at Paul Allen's Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum.