They said this wasn't about revenge.
The memories of what might have been never will be erased, but the Green Bay Packers earned an incredibly satisfying victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.
Just more than eight months after the Packers blew a 12-point lead in the final 4 minutes of the NFC Championship Game, Aaron Rodgers went 25-of-33 for 249 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers beat Seattle 27-17. In front of a Lambeau Field-record crowd of 78,933, the Packers improved to 2-0 while the Seahawks are a surprising 0-2.
"It feels good," guard T.J. Lang said. "Obviously, it doesn’t count for anything more than a win, but it is probably one of the more satisfying regular-season wins that we’ve had, just to get that monkey off our back of not being able to beat these guys."
Added Clay Matthews: "It’s a big win. Let’s put it at that. Obviously, we wanted this win for a number of reasons, whether guys drew extra motivation from the times we fell short to them or the simple fact it was 'Sunday Night Football' and we’re playing a great opponent. A very big win and a great win to start the season – that big win at Chicago and following it up with a nail-biter here is huge. It’s 2-0. In years prior we might have started the season off slow but hopefully we can keep stacking these victories."
With its offensive tackles struggling with Seattle’s edge rushers, Green Bay went to four-receiver sets, spread the field and went to a quick-hitting passing game for the go-ahead touchdown.
Rodgers threw a short pass to receiver Randall Cobb, who picked up 15 yards after the catch for a gain of 19. He threw another short pass to receiver Ty Montgomery, who picked up 15 yards after the catch for a gain of 17. On second-and-goal from the 5, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and fired a bullet to tight end Richard Rodgers in the end zone for the touchdown. It was Rodgers-to-Rodgers gain for the two-pointer, as the tight end made a tremendous catch despite interference by linebacker Bobby Wagner. That gave Green Bay a 24-17 lead with 9:28 remaining. Rodgers completed all eight passes on the scoring drive.
On the ensuing possession, Russell Wilson’s screen pass to Marshawn Lynch was intercepted in one-handed fashion by outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott. The Packers scored the clincher on a 21-yard field goal by Mason Crosby on the first play after the two-minute warning. On the first play of the drive, Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright was ejected for taking Richard Rodgers to the ground and pulling on his facemask.A 13-yard completion to Montgomery converted a key third-and-6 and allowed the Packers to burn almost 2 more minutes off the clock.
The field goal gave Crosby the franchise career scoring record, with his 1,057 points breaking Ryan Longwell's mark of 1,054.
After the game, Rodgers took a shot at his Seattle counterpart. After the NFC Championship Game, Wilson spoke about how God helped the Seahawks in the rally. In the aftermath of that game, Rodgers said God cares only about the players.
On Sunday night, Rodgers said: "It’s being very confident in the preparation and a little help from God. I think God was a Packer fan tonight. He was taking care of us."
Seattle withstood Green Bay’s hot start to take a 17-13 lead with back-to-back touchdowns to open the second half. The first was a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Fred Jackson on third-and-goal and the second was a 13-yard touchdown strike to receiver Doug Baldwin.
The Seahawks adjusted to Green Bay’s aggressive defense by using Wilson on bootlegs and read options. On the first scoring drive, Wilson had a completion of 13 yards to Baldwin on a bootleg one direction then rushed for 7 yards on a bootleg the other way. A read option on the next snap turned into a 10-yard run by Wilson. On the second scoring drive, Wilson ran for 17 on a naked bootleg. The touchdown came when Baldwin ran to the corner, then broke his route to the post to beat nickel cornerback Micah Hyde for the touchdown.
Green Bay answered with a 44-yard field goal, set up by a 35-yard run by James Starks, who played most of the game after Eddie Lacy left in the first quarter with an injured ankle. That cut the margin to 17-16 with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Green Bay rode an opening surge of energy to a quick 10-0 lead en route to a 13-3 lead at halftime.
The Packers drew first blood with an 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game. The key play was a challenge flag thrown by Packers coach Mike McCarthy on the third play of the series. Rodgers overthrew tight end Richard Rodgers on third-and-1 but McCarthy correctly argued that Seattle had 12 men on the field. On the touchdown, Rodgers hit James Jones for a 29-yard touchdown against All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
Seattle went three-and-out on its opening possession as Green Bay dropped Lynch for losses of 2 and 3 yards. The Seahawks’ defense, however, stiffened – a trend that held true for most of the remainder of the first half. Green Bay took possession at Seattle’s 44 but couldn’t get a first down and settled for a 54-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
Seattle was the beneficiary of two reviews late in the first half. The first, on first-and-goal from 10, confirmed that Randall Cobb was stopped inside the 1-yard line on a quick pass by Rodgers. The second came on the next play, with referee Gene Steratore ruling Jones’ butt was on the ground and out of bounds when he caught an apparent touchdown. Wagner defended a pass to Richard Rodgers on third down and the Packers settled for an 18-yard field goal by Crosby with 2 seconds left in the half.