Tremen­dous ef­for t falls shor t in S eat­tle

Packer Plus - - Rating The Packers Vs. Seahawks - Bob McGinn

Green Bay — The Green Bay Pack­ers opened and closed their sea­son with de­feats in Seat­tle.

It tells you they’re just not as good as the Sea­hawks, at least not at Cen­tu­ryLink Field, but that wasn’t the case for most of the way in the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game. The Pack­ers had ex­cel­lent schemes and gave tremen­dous ef­fort. They just fell apart at the end.

Of­fense, de­fense, spe­cial teams and coach­ing. All four shared almost equally in the 28-22 over­time de­feat.

Here is a rat­ing of the Pack­ers in their loss to the Sea­hawks, with their 1 to 5 foot­ball to­tals in paren­the­ses:

RE­CEIVERS (2 ½)

Un­like the first game, there were a few oc­ca­sions when Jordy Nel­son (66 of 69 snaps) did line up across from LC Richard Sher­man. The great majority of his plays came against RC By­ron Maxwell. Four of his re­cep­tions (for 65 yards) were against Maxwell, an ag­gres­sive, long, press-man spe­cial­ist. There were sev­eral deep balls in which Nel­son failed to sep­a­rate. He dropped one stop route and, from the 6, tripped at the top of the route on a cor­ner route against nickel back Jeremy Lane that skipped off his fin­gers. Upon draw­ing a pass-in­ter­fer­ence penalty on Maxwell, Nel­son barked back when Seat­tle coaches com­plained to the side judge. It’s some­thing Nel­son never does. Cobb (60 at WR, five at RB) wasn’t able to dom­i­nate Lane, a matchup that should have been in his fa­vor. It was im­pres­sive to watch the 195-pound Cobb crack back on SS Kam Chan­cel­lor with­out fear. Even with Sher­man play­ing one-armed the en­tire fourth quar­ter (el­bow), the Pack­ers didn’t test him with Da­vante Adams (61) or Nel­son. Fail­ing to make Sher­man cover and tackle in that cir­cum­stance was a mis­cue. As has hap­pened many times, the op­po­nent kind of ig­nored Richard Rodgers (28) and he made plays. From de­tached lo­ca­tions, he dis­played fast feet in and out of his breaks, pre­sented him­self well as a tar­get and caught ev­ery­thing. His block­ing is another mat­ter. Ed­die Lacy was stacked up on third and goal from the 1 be­cause JC Tret­ter was late off the ball and be­cause Rodgers couldn’t sus­tain against SLB Bruce Irvin. When the Pack­ers’ four­minute of­fense failed, Rodgers was man­han­dled by DE Michael Ben­nett at the point of at­tack. Asked to lead­block against Chan­cel­lor from the back­field, Rodgers came in soft and went fly­ing back faster than he ap­proached. His size screams blocker but his play doesn’t. An­drew Quar­less (27) was un­able to sep­a­rate from WLB K.J. Wright from a split-re­ceiver lo­ca­tion on a late third-and-4 in­com­ple­tion.

OF­FEN­SIVE LINE (4 ½)

Gen­er­ally, Bryan Bu­laga’s two false-start penal­ties should dis­qual­ify him from “Stars of the Game” con­sid­er­a­tion. His down-in, downout per­for­mance, how­ever, was too spe­cial to leave out. Bu­laga didn’t al­low a “bad” run and his only pres­sure came on a bull rush by DE Cliff Avril. Both Avril and DE Michael Ben­nett pow­er­rushed Bu­laga but he an­chored well. A mas­sive man, he has learned how to use that size. He’s also im­proved his pass sets and doesn’t of­ten miss with hand place­ment. On the other side, David Bakhtiari wasn’t quite as flaw­less as Bu­laga but played well, too. Bakhtiari dis­placed the ends on runs to his side and ex­e­cuted some combo blocks with Josh Sit­ton. He was late cut­ting off NT Kevin Wil­liams; oth­er­wise, John Kuhn would have scored from the 1. He also had a men­tal er­ror in four-minute that par­tially led to a mi­nus-4 for Lacy. Co­or­di­na­tor Dan Quinn re­lied on four-man rushes but when they were re­pelled he had to send a fifth rusher. His fi­nal blitz rate was 23.7%. Guards T.J. Lang and Sit­ton stayed off the ground and in front of their man. The only sack came on a stunt when Lang over­set too wide to halt Ben­nett but then couldn’t get back to pick up Avril. Corey Lins­ley

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5 got flat­tened out a few times on reach blocks and back­doored once by Wil­liams, the dis­tin­guished old Vik­ing.

QUAR­TER­BACKS (2 ½)

Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against Pete Car­roll’s Sea­hawks with a long com­ple­tion of 31 yards. This time, he didn’t hit a pass more than 13 yards down­field. Granted, the Sea­hawks have the NFL’s best sec­ondary, but many re­gard Rodgers as its best quar­ter­back. His pro­tec­tion was lit­tle short of su­perla­tive. He missed deep five times, in­clud­ing two to Nel­son and two to Adams. The tra­jec­tory of his long balls was off. He cost the Pack­ers a field goal by throw­ing late to Adams and hav­ing it picked off by Sher­man in the back of the end zone. There was no need to throw that sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion on first down from the Seat­tle 33. He came close to a third on a too-flat throw to Nel­son when Maxwell was all over him at the front py­lon. Yes, the calf might have been an in­con­ve­nience. It also was his fourth game play­ing with the in­jury, and he moved bet­ter on it this time. Lacy was set up for a big gain on a screen when Rodgers stepped the wrong way and then bailed out on the throw, never even giv­ing the play a chance. He could have at­tacked the wounded Sher­man but didn’t. When Rus­sell Wilson emerged from his hor­ren­dous funk to make game-win­ning plays, Rodgers of­fered lit­tle in the sec­ond half. Of course, he made a few great throws. His lethal hard counts also drew Seat­tle off three times. In the end, Wilson proved to be the tougher man to beat. Great play­ers need to make great plays in con­fer­ence ti­tle games, and Rodgers re­ally didn’t make any.

RUN­NING BACKS (4 ½)

Lacy (49) isn’t as good as Mar­shawn Lynch. Per­haps no­body is. Still, Lacy is a tremen­dous back for a big game like this. After be­ing KO’d by Chan­cel­lor in Septem­ber, he almost ap­peared to have a ven­detta against Seat­tle. He spun less. He eluded less. It was almost like he ran to­ward con­tact and tried to bull over or through as many Sea­hawks as he could. In all, he broke three tack­les. This sea­son, per­haps more than any other, of­fen­sive line­men across the league have “helped” their backs by push­ing the pile from be­hind. Both Lynch and Lacy ben­e­fited sev­eral times. Once or two, he made des­per­ate late lunges for ex­tra yardage. When Ben­nett pen­e­trated be­tween Bu­laga and Lang, Lacy shrugged him off and turned a 3-yard loss into a gain of 7. James Starks (14) was ter­rific, too. His 32-yard cut­back was awe­some be­cause he made the great FS Earl Thomas miss on a no-ex­cuse shot. DE O’Brien Schofield had Starks dead to rights 5 yards in the back­field but he darted left and made 3 out of noth­ing. It wasn’t Kuhn’s fault that he came up a foot short of a TD. On a third and 1, Wil­liams shoved Lang back two yards on the snap and gave Kuhn (23) a sub­stan­tial lick from the side. With a good piece of run­ning

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