Third downs are the difference

The Packers move the chains and score points while keeping the Seattle offense under wraps.

Other than turnovers, if there's one statistic that generally determines the winner and loser, it's what happens on third down.

The Packers were the superior team during Sunday's 27-17 victory over the Seahawks at Qwest Field by converting 10-of-18 third downs compared to 4-of-11 for Seattle.

That was especially apparent when Green Bay took control in the third quarter. The Packers took a 17-10 lead on Aaron Rodgers' 45-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings on third-and-6. The Packers extended the advantage to 24-10 on their next possession, with Rodgers converting third-and-5 with an 8-yard pass to Jennings, third-and-5 with an 8-yard pass to Donald Driver and third-and-2 with an 11-yard pass to Jordy Nelson.

"Two real long drives, the one right before the half, to finish off with seven, and then the 85-yard drive to put us up 14, those drives were kept alive with good work on third downs," Rodgers said.

The Packers' defense, meanwhile, forced Seattle to go three-and-out on all three third-quarter possessions.

"We kept the sticks (yardage markers) in our favor and didn't allow them to get too many third-and-shorts," said Aaron Kampman, who had two of the Packers' three sacks. "They did it a couple of times, especially on that turnover that we had when they scored that touchdown. For the most part, we were able to keep the sticks in our favor and and get off the field on third down. It was a little bit of a challenge, but when we got them in third-and-6, third-and-7 and above, we felt like we could get after the passer as well as let our back end do what they do."

Because of what happened on third down, the Packers earned a 15-minute edge in time of possession, and that helped silence the notorious Qwest Field crowd.

"To be 10-for-18 today, was definitely a testament to the protection, to guys making plays and those keep drives alive," Rodgers said.

Of course, it helps that the Packers' defense was facing third-string quarterback Charlie Frye rather than three-time Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck. Plus, four of the Seahawks' top receivers are out.

"Everyone is thinking properly, but you have to have some bullets in the gun," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said of his injury-riddled offense. "Right now, we have a couple of bullets, but not enough. So, we are not converting like we should. And, the field position thing hurt us at times in the game, and that is really what decided the game. Our inability to convert third downs and our opponents' ability to convert third downs, that is a big part of any game, and it was a part of today's game."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and E-mail him at

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