Reeling from a three-game losing streak, their locker room riddled with injuries and playing at one of the toughest environments in the NFL, the Packers earned a satisfying 27-17 victory at Qwest Field.
A week after falling behind 10-0 after the first quarter in a loss to Atlanta, the Packers trailed 10-3 midway through the second quarter against Seattle. But Green Bay, while hardly dominant, controlled the rest of the game behind its third-down offense and a defense that took care of business against a quarterback, Charlie Frye, who hadn't thrown a pass since Week 1 of last season.
At 3-3, Green Bay is tied for the NFC North lead with Chicago (which lost, then won, then lost at Atlanta) and Minnesota (winners of two in a row) entering the meat of its challenging schedule. Next week, the Packers host the surging Indianapolis Colts (3-2), have their bye week, hit the road for Tennessee (5-0) and Minnesota (3-3), return home for Chicago (3-3), visit New Orleans (3-3) then host Carolina (4-2).
"Losing is hard. We haven't won a game in a month," coach Mike McCarthy said. "So, it's something that we talked about as a football team all week. The investment that we have made in our preparation. And we have not been able to cash in on that investment. So, it was important for us to come uphere. We knew that is was going to be a big challenge because of the territory you're walking into here. It's important to win this game, no doubt."
Aaron Rodgers, who didn't throw a single pass all week at practice while starting a second consecutive game with a sprained throwing shoulder, completed 21-of-30 passes for 208 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
Rodgers, perhaps because of the shoulder, settled mostly for short passes throughout the game. He went deep once, and it was a beauty: a 45-yard, perfectly placed touchdown bomb to Greg Jennings, who beat Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant to put the Packers on top 17-10 midway through the third quarter.
"It was a call by Mike, actually," Rodgers said. "Two posts on the right side, with Driver running the first post, and Greg was the second post. I think Ruvell was on the back side coming across the field. They brought pressure, and DeShawn Wynn made a great block that gave me time to throw, and I just stood in there. I knew that Greg was one-on-one and Donald was one-on-one, as well. Donald was getting held a little bit. I just wanted to get it up quick and give Greg a chance. He made a great catch for us."
Seattle went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, this one ending on Aaron Kampman's second sack, and Green Bay responded with a 15-play, 84-yard touchdown march. Rodgers went 7-for-8 on the drive, including three third-down conversions, and hit fullback John Kuhn for a 1-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, Green Bay's injury-riddled defense took advantage of a Seahawks offense without three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (hyperextended knee) and most of its top receivers. It took almost 20 minutes for Seattle to get its initial second-half first down, but Charles Woodson intercepted Frye on the next play. That set up a clinching 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
Because they didn't fear Seattle's passing game, the Packers finally took care of business against the run. After allowing 100-yard games to Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Dallas' Marion Barber, Tampa Bay's Earnest Graham and Atlanta's Michael Turner, the Packers yielded 113 yards on 23 carries against Seattle. A 27-yard scramble by Frye in the fourth quarter skewed the Seahawks' 4.9-yard average. Julius Jones, who entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL with 93.3 rushing yards per game, was held to 44 yards on 12 carries.
On Friday, Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett — noting how opposing run games had worn down Green Bay's short-handed defense — said an ideal scenario would be Green Bay holding Seattle to about 40 plays.
The Seahawks surpassed that number, but not by much. With Frye completing only 12-of-23 passes for 83 yards — he was picked off twice and sacked three times — the Packers enjoyed a 15-minute edge in time of possession.
"I was really happy with the way we played emotionally," Kampman said. "Fundamentally, there are certain things we could clean up, but for the most part, we brought that energy today. That's what really helped us."
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org