The Packers feasted on a Seattle offense that was missing key starters, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and the Packers' first-team offense got into gear in a 48-13 whipping of the Seahawks Saturday night in the Packers' home preseason opener.
The Packers turned two fumbles by backup quarterback Seneca Wallace into touchdowns, and rookie wide receiver James Jones caught touchdown passes from Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as the Packers raced to a 38-13 halftime lead in the annual Midwest Shrine Game on a cool and rainy evening.
Green Bay's defense, which is expected to be one of the best in the league this season, picked up where it left off in the Packers' 13-9 win over Pittsburgh a week earlier. Green Bay forced six Seattle turnovers overall (three interceptions, three fumbles) and turned three of them into 21 points as the Packers racked up the most points in a preseason game since whipping the Cedar Rapids Crush 75-0 in 1938 in Ironwood, Mich.
"I think we definitely took a step forward as a football team," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "There's a number of positives that we can build on. I'm a little soured by the way the fourth quarter went, but I'm very happy with the progress that we're making.
"We have a lot of work to do. I'm excited about the win (and) I think our team is definitely gaining confidence."
The Packers forced two first-half turnovers that resulted in touchdowns by linebackers Nick Barnett and Tracy White. Both fumbles were off sacks on Wallace, who was smothered by defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and attacked by safety Atari Bigby on separate occasions.
"Everybody is playing well," said Barnett. "It's the second year of having the scheme under our belts and playing together. We're out there gelling. We still have some things to clean up. I think we're on the right path."
Cornerback Jarrett Bush had two interceptions and safety Charlie Peprah had another for the Packers.
Favre completed seven of 12 passes for 74 yards and a 16-yard touchdown to Jones that gave the Packers a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter. The first-team offense played all of the first half, except for Favre, who was replaced by Rodgers in the second quarter. Left tackle Chad Clifton was replaced by Junius Coston early in the second quarter.
Rookie Brandon Jackson finished with 52 yards rushing, including a one-yard touchdown run early on that gave the Packers a 10-3 lead. Jackson played only in the first two quarters and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. He appeared much more comfortable and decisive than in last week's game at Pittsburgh when he averaged 3.6 yards per carry.
"Right now he is our starter," McCarthy said. "I think he's getting better with each game. I thought he ran with body lean behind his pads better than he did against Pittsburgh for the whole game. It's something he's really working hard on."
Dave Rayner's 24-yard field goal and Rodgers' four-yard touchdown pass to Carlyle Holiday midway through the third quarter gave the Packers a 48-13 lead. Quarterback Paul Thompson finished up but was ineffective. He completed five of 10 passes and threw two interceptions while playing the final minute of the third quarter and fourth quarter.
Will Blackmon may have secured punt and kickoff return duties with his performance against the Seahawks. Blackmon's 83-yard kickoff return late in the first quarter set up Jackson's 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Packers a 10-3 lead. Blackmon broke off a block by Jason Hunter and sprinted down the left sideline before he was dragged down by Michael Boulware, who was penalized for a "horse collar" tackle that pushed the ball to the Seahawks' 7.
Favre's touchdown pass to Jones stretched the lead to 17-3 on the first play of the second quarter. The five-play, 51-yard drive was highlighted by Favre's 22-yard pass to Donald Driver to the Seahawks 18. Favre found Jones on a crossing pattern over the middle at the 13 and the rookie raced to the right pylon for his first touchdown of the preseason.
Gbaja-Biamila took advantage of left tackle Walter Jones' absence by schooling backup Tom Ashworth en route to Wallace, who fumbled the ball away at the Packers' 38. Barnett scooped up the ball and raced untouched for a touchdown, giving the Packers a 24-3 lead.
Maurice Jones' 15-yard touchdown run up the middle of Green Bay's second-team defense closed the Seahawks to 24-10 with 9:52 left in the second quarter. The Seahawks took advantage of Green Bay's first turnover of the half when Rodgers was unable to handle a shotgun snap from center Scott Wells and fumbled the ball away at the Packers' 28. Wallace completed a 13-yard pass to fullback Leonard Weaver to the 15 before Jones scored.
Mason Crosby's 37-yard field goal with 7:28 left in the first quarter gave the Packers a 3-0 lead. The Packers went 47 yards on 12 plays in their second offensive series for the score.
Favre completed three passes for 21 yards to tight end Bubba Franks, and Jackson pounded his way to the Seahawks' 19 before the drive stalled when Favre threw incomplete on second and third down.
The Seahawks answered with a 46-yard field goal by Josh Brown on a drive highlighted by Nate Burleson's 55-yard reception from quarterback Seneca Wallace. On third and 14, Wallace was flushed out of the pocket to his right, then threw across the field to a wide open Burleson, who slipped a high tackle by safety Nick Collins and raced down the middle of the field before he was dragged down by safety Marquand Manuel. Wallace threw incomplete on consecutive plays, forcing the Seahawks to settle for the field goal attempt.