A Hodge-podge performance

Rookie linebacker Abdul Hodge experienced the highs (first career touchdown) and lows (watching Shaun Alexander run wild) during his starting debut Monday at Seattle.

Abdul Hodge had quite the debut.

Starting his first game in the NFL, Hodge caught a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, but also had a long night trying to corral Seattle running back Shaun Alexander during the Seahawks' 34-24 victory on Monday night.

Hodge, in the lineup because starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett is out with a broken right hand, was in the right place at the right time late in the first half. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sacked Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and the ball popped into the air and into Hodge's hands. He raced 29 yards for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 14-9 lead with 1:51 left in the second quarter.

"It was exciting. It was good for our team, and it put us in a good position," said Hodge, who finished with five tackles, one assist and two passes defensed.

The rest of the night, however, played out like a final exam for a player who had missed most of the semester.

Hodge, who hadn't made a tackle on defense all season while playing behind every-play Barnett, looked a step slow all night while trying to keep Alexander under wraps. He struggled getting around blocks, and a couple of times was left grasping at air when Alexander made a sharp cut.

When the game was over, the Packers' 11th-ranked rushing defense had been torn to shreds. How bad was it?

— Alexander, who had six carries of at least 13 yards, rushed for 201 of Seattle's 235 yards rushing. He entered the game with a 2.7-yard average.

— That's the most rushing yards allowed in a game since Greg Bell of the Los Angeles Rams gained 221 yards on Sept. 24, 1989.

— The Packers hadn't even allowed 135 rushing yards in a game this season, and hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher.

"From a personal standpoint," Hodge said, "I'm pretty hard on myself. There were a lot of plays out there I wish I could have had back."

Pass coverage was where Hodge struggled during training camp, and that was the case Monday, too. He was beaten deep a couple times by Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens, but was let off the hook on one occasion by a Stevens drop and another occasion by a big hit by safety Marquand Manuel. He was in coverage when Stevens caught the game-clinching touchdown pass.

"It was what I thought it was: fast-paced," Hodge said. "Just tough football. A 60-minute fight. That was what it was: a dogfight. They definitely looked at me in the passing game. I think I did all right. There were definitely some plays I could have played better, particularly that last touchdown."

Hodge stayed in the game with A.J. Hawk in the Packers' nickel defense (five defensive backs, two linebackers), rather than being pulled in favor of a sixth defensive back. He also filled Barnett's role as the defensive signal-caller, and earned praise from coaches and teammates.

"He definitely did his job. He played well," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said.

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