Hawk Was Target of Ryan’s Fake

At Tuesday's Media Day, Seattle punter Jon Ryan walked reporters through his touchdown pass that helped beat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Ryan, who was released after two seasons in Green Bay, has a chance to win a second Super Bowl ring. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY)

After throwing the touchdown pass that righted the Seahawks’ ship in their NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, punter Jon Ryan did Aaron Rodgers’ “championship belt” celebration in front of Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

It was A.J. Hawk, however, who was the primary target on the play, Ryan explained during Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day.

“We looked to the sideline, and the coach (special teams coordinator Brian Schneider) called the play,” Ryan told reporters. “When we set up the line, I was just looking for the particular look that we were looking for."

The "look" was making sure Green Bay's Brad Jones was on the field, because the Seahawks had noticed Jones' recklessness as a rusher. It was that recklessness the desperate Seahawks wanted to take advantage of.

"If we didn’t see that look, I was going to call the fake off," Ryan continued. "As it happened, the look was there. I got the ball, and started rolling out to the left. We were trying to option No. 50 A.J. Hawk. A.J. Hawk came to me, and when he came to me, I threw it over the top for the touchdown.”

It was a defining play in the Seahawks’ come-from-behind victory — and the Packers’ historic collapse. Incredibly, the Packers never considered the Seahawks might call a fake, even though it was 16-0 and the Seattle offense had done next to nothing the entire game. So, when the Packers’ Davon House and, especially, Jones rushed hard off the edge in an attempt to keep three points off the board, it enabled the Seahawks score a game-changing seven points. Because Hawk, who was stationed behind the defense, ran toward the line of scrimmage to stop Ryan, backup offensive lineman Gary Gilliam was at least 5 yards behind the rest of the defenders. Thus, what might have been a first-down run for Ryan became an easy touchdown pass.

“We had practiced the play all week, and I was very confident with the play,” Ryan said. “It was a relatively simple play really. When I got out there, I was just making sure that we had the right look that we were looking for. When we got that look, the fake was on. Then after that, it just happens so quickly you just can’t even remember anything really.”

Ryan, a native of Regina, Saskatchewan, played for the Packers in 2006 and 2007. His 44.5-yard average in 2006 stands as the fifth-best season in franchise history. He averaged 44.4 per punt in 2007 but had two blocked and was replaced by Derrick Frost in 2008.

That decision irks Ryan to this day. However, he’s enjoyed an excellent career — his career average is 44.7 — and has a chance to be part of a second consecutive Super Bowl championship team.

“Growing up in Canada, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to play in the NFL,” he said. “Now to have been playing here for nine years, playing in my second Super Bowl is really a dream come true.”

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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