Though most of the analysts around the league did pick the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Green Bay Packers last Thursday, few expected the game to be so one-sided.
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Most of the analysts expected the Champs to win primarily due to their being at home in front of the boisterous 12th man, especially given the additional emotional boost provided by the raising of the Seahawks’ first championship banner.
However, most of the analysts also expected it to be a very close game, given that the Packers stars Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews were healthy, and given that they upgraded their defense by adding the likes of Julius Peppers.
The Packers were expected to be able to move the ball and ultimately score upwards of 20 points against the Seattle defense, while their defense was expected to disrupt the Seattle offense by applying pressure on Russell Wilson on the ends.
Well, projections are just that, and that is why they actually play the games.
The Champs dominated the game from the onset. Their defense was stifling and their offense was dynamic.
The Seattle defense looked as strong as ever!
The Legion of Boom once again showed why it is the best secondary in the league, as Rodgers wasn’t able to get anything done down the field and, accordingly, had to settle for drop-off passes and short routes.
The results were telling as Rodgers was held to 189 yards on 23 of 33 passing and one TD to go with the one pick (81.5 QBR).
For me, the biggest surprise of the game was the Seahawks run defense. After giving up a couple good runs during the Packers initial drive, they DOMINATED!
The D-line consistently won the battle in the trenches by filling the running lanes and sealing the ends, while Bobby Wagner (14 tackles) and the linebacking corps put on a clinic in gang tackling.
They were EVERYWHERE, swarming like a pack of wolves frenzied by the smell of blood during a long winter with little or no food.
The Hawks pass rush reminded me a lot of the Super Bowl.
In the first half, they recorded only the one sack (by O’Brien Schofield), but consistently squeezed the pocket around Rodgers, thus forcing him to utilize his safety routes.
Bennett’s came in the third quarter and caused the ball to shoot out of Rodgers’ grasp and into the end zone for the safety that put the momentum squarely in the hands of the Champs.
However, it was Avril’s sack that sealed the game, as it came on a forth down attempt in the fourth quarter that would have given the Packers a ray of hope.
At the end of the day, the Seahawks defense only gave up 80 rushing yards on 21 carries, while sacking Rodgers three times and forcing one turnover and a safety.
As a whole, the Seahawks defense only gave up one legitimate touchdown drive, as the other TD was the result of Earl Thomas‘ fumbled punt return attempt in the Seahawks redzone.
The Seattle offense was as dynamic as their defense was dominant!
Early on, the Hawks showed a more pass heavy offensive attack than we are used to, while relying heavily on the tools that Percy Harvin brings to the offense.
They mixed it up with a slew of screens, crossing routes and rocket sweeps to Harvin to the tune of 100 yards (four carries for 41 yards, seven receptions for 59 yards).
However, as the game went on, they shifted their offensive emphasis back the running game, as we have come to expect.
For me, the biggest surprise on the offensive side of the ball was the quickness demonstrated by Marshawn Lynch.
Not only was he hitting the holes as hard as ever, while running through tackles in the Beast Mode fashion we have come to expect, but he also showed exceptional lateral elusiveness beyond that which we are accustomed to.
Due to his improved quickness, coupled with the attention that Harvin demands, Marshawn ran for over 80 yards on just nine carries in the first half, including a nine yard TD.
“Though it was only one game, it should put the rest of the league on notice: The Seahawks look like a better team than that which won the Super Bowl last year.” -Demian Raymond
Ultimately, he ended up with 110 yards and 2 TDs on 20 carries. How ’bout that action, boss!!
Of course, Russell Wilson was as unbelievably poised and efficient as ever.
He was 19 of 28 for 191 yards and two TDs (110.9 QBR), including a nifty read-option play-action pass to Ricardo Lockette for a 33-yard TD in the first half.
The offensive line had something to prove coming in, and they performed as well as could be expected.
Wilson was only hit a few times, didn’t have to scramble much, and was only sacked once.
Though I was hoping to see the Hawks offense open it up a bit more, they looked REALLY good as a whole.
The only real mistake made by the Hawks was Earl Thomas’ fumble, which further begs the ongoing question: Should he be the primary punt returner?
I, like many others, would prefer to see someone else back there. Though, he has shown signs of being plenty capable, I would simply prefer to let him focus on playing defense and let someone like Bryan Walters focus on returning punts.
Returning punts requires a different mentality than playing defense. On defense, aggressiveness is generally rewarding, while aggressiveness needs to be measured when returning punts.
Not only should Thomas have called for a fair catch on the punt he fumbled, but he should have on the first one, as well.
If he is going to continue filling that role, he needs to do a better job measuring the risk versus the potential reward.
Though it was only one game, it should put the rest of the league on notice: The Seahawks look like a better team than that which won the Super Bowl last year!
They are far more balanced, both offensively and as a whole.
If this game stands to be the baseline from which they will continue to grow and improve, it is going to be a REALLY FUN YEAR!