GREEN BAY—For several weeks, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his players have noted that the defense that struggled to start the season had been playing really well in recent weeks.
Since turning things around, that defense had not, however, faced a quarterback and an offense quite like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. But on Sunday, on what was otherwise a forgettable afternoon for the Seahawks, a defense that has been trending in the right direction showed, against one of the best quarterbacks of his generation, that it can go toe to toe with anyone.
For three-plus quarters in an eventual 17-0 loss, the Seahawks defense made the reigning MVP and the Packers offense look downright ordinary in their home stadium, holding the Packers to a single field goal on their first seven possessions.
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"They played great," Carroll said of his team's defense. "They played great defense. They really did. In all phases—run, pass, the whole thing, third downs, everything. And then (Packers) got some at the end there; they got some third downs on us and a couple penalties. But I thought they played really well… We played terrific on defense. I thought we played terrific."
And yes, the Packers did put together two touchdown drive late in the game against a defense that, while unwilling to make excuses, had to be tired given the huge disparity in time of possession and plays run between the two teams. But while those late touchdowns were enough to seal a Packers win on a day Seattle's offense couldn't get anything going, those scores should not take away from what the Seahawks defense did, including holding Rodgers to a 75.5 passer rating, limiting Davante Adams to 78 yards after he had 326 in his previous two games against Seattle, and holding the Packers to 3.3 yards per rush attempt.
"I just think we're playing good, complementary football," said cornerback D.J. Reed. "Our third-down conversions have been low compared to the beginning of the season, and that's just a testament to the coaching staff and the guys in the room that just bought in."
A big part of Seattle's strong performance was the play of safety Jamal Adams, who had 11 tackles, two quarterback hits, and most notably, his first interception as a Seahawk, a pick that was also the first thrown by Rodgers in the red zone at home in two years.
"He's been playing really well," Carroll said. "Everybody's been wondering why he doesn't have more sacks; he's a frickin' DB. It's hard to get those guys sacks. Phenomenal effort that he made last year that we were able to get that done and he was able to take advantage of it, but he's been playing really well. For the last five or six weeks he's been great."
Asked what he has been seeing out of the defense in recent week, Adams said, "I think it's just everybody understanding the job, everybody playing off one another. The energy is there, the juice is there. We've just got to play smart. In crucial situations we can't have penalties. Those things lead the points, especially playing a great group of guys like them, it's definitely going to get us get us beat at the end."
Linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who had a team-high 12 tackles, one for a loss, agreed that the improvement hasn't been about doing things differently, just doing them better.
"Nothing was different, scheme wise," he said. "Guys just locked in this week, knew the challenges we were facing with is quarterback, and everybody just played sound and disciplined."
And while the good defensive play didn't lead to a win, not with the Packers defense doing an even better job stopping its opponent, Seattle's offensive players were appreciative of how the defense kept them in the game.
"They gave us a boost, we just couldn't deliver," said tight end Gerald Everett.
Added Russell Wilson, who shouldered much of the blame for the loss, "I thought the defense was really, really great tonight… With our defense, how they've been flying around, the secondary guys, Diggs and Jamal, our corners have been playing great, the D-line has been exceptional over the past few weeks, they've been battling, and obviously Bobby being the star in the middle there, he's really special."
If the Seahawks are going to turn this season around after a 3-6 start, they'll need to do a lot of things better down the stretch, but one of the biggest reasons for optimism right now is the way that a defense that struggled early in the season has turned things around over the past month.
"We're playing really good," Carroll said. "I made a statement to those guys yesterday about that I'm excited about all of the areas we've done so well in. It's just the truth—I'll tell the truth on Monday, and I told the truth on Saturday of this week. They went out there and played like crazy all night, and I'm really, really proud of the way they got after it."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2021. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.