Packers-Seahawks Winners & Losers

We examine some of the difference-makers — both good and bad — in the wake of Saturday's 27-24 win. Leading off: the unstoppable Jermichael Finley and the ridiculously versatile John Kuhn.

Besides the obvious choices of Aaron Rodgers and Brandon Jackson, here are some of the winners and losers from Saturday night's win at Seattle.

Winners

John Kuhn: I talked to Kuhn on Monday, when he was subbing at halfback for the still-woozy Ryan Grant. He was downright giddy as he got in touch with his ball-carrying roots from his career at Shippensburg, where he rushed for 4,685 yards.

He subbed again on Saturday, after Quinn Porter went down (and joined Kregg Lumpkin and James Starks), and contributed six carries for 30 yards and a 3-yard touchdown reception. In the three-headed fullback battle, versatility rules the day.

"Last year and the year before, I kind of played the emergency role," Kuhn said on Monday. "Being in the room and being with the guys, I know all the plays, I know what they're supposed to do, I know the techniques and stuff like that. It's just a matter of going out on the practice field and doing it and showing them that I can do it physically."

Chris Bryan: The punting battle had been slanting toward Tim Masthay since the start of camp. Not only had Masthay been the more consistent punter, but he was the one holder who seemed to have chemistry with kicker Mason Crosby. Well, the race is on. After Bryan hammered Masthay in the punting battle on Thursday, both punted OK on Saturday, with Masthay's one punt going 43 yards with no return and Bryan's one punt going 39 yards with no return. Just as importantly for Bryan, Crosby went 6-for-6 on field goals on Thursday and 2-for-2 on Saturday, including a 51-yard bomb.

Sam Shields: OK, the guy can't field a kick. Who cares? He had an interception to ice the game, and on special teams he did what he did so well at Miami: line up at gunner, beat the jammer, fly down the field and make the tackle. His upside on defense has to be worth a roster spot.

Spencer Havner: Tight end is the Packers' best position. It's so good that there's no guarantee that Havner — even after scoring five touchdowns last season — would retain his roster spot. Well, it's practically guaranteed now. Not only can he play tight end but his interception on defense shows his value when roster spots are so precious.

Jermichael Finley: Because Aaron Rodgers spreads the love on offense, Finley's stats might not measure up to Antonio Gates or Jason Witten by season's end. That's irrelevant. I'll say it right now: Finley will be the NFL's best tight end by season's end. Heck, he probably is today. An absolute matchup nightmare, Finley caught four passes in two series. Three of them converted third downs. How do you play him when he's split out wide? He's far too big and fast for most safeties, he's too big for any cornerback and he's too fast for any linebacker. For goodness sake, he ran past Shields — Shields! — to catch a bomb on Thursday night.

Brett Swain: Swain took a big step toward winning the No. 5 receiver job with his best performance of training camp/preseason. He caught two passes and made the play on the opening kickoff to drop the returner at the 15.

Losers

Brandon Underwood: Underwood has been having such a strong training camp that his offseason incident had become something of an afterthought. He had a bad night against Seattle's No. 1 offense, though. He blew zone coverage on an early 17-yard completion to draft bust Mike Williams, then played far too soft on third-and-4 against T.J. Houshmandzadeh. It's a good thing this is the preseason, and it's a good thing that Peyton Manning comes to town on Thursday.

Derrick Martin: Martin talks and talks and talks during practice. Whether he's in the play or out of the play, whether he makes the play or was simply in the ZIP code, he talks. And talks. He shut himself up, though, by getting himself thrown out of the game for allegedly throwing a couple punches while double teaming the gunner on a first-half punt. Martin wasn't exactly a lock to make the roster to begin with. With Will Blackmon back in action and undrafted Anthony Levine opening some eyes, Martin didn't help his chances.

— Quinn Porter: It was a tough ending to a less-than-stellar week for the early darling of training camp. Early in the week, he drew the ire of Mike McCarthy for failing to be in the huddle with the No. 2 kickoff unit. On Saturday, he rushed for 27 yards on nine rushes before leaving with a sprained ankle. Behind the same blocking, Kuhn rushed for 30 yards on six rushes and Brandon Jackson broke off two big runs for the winning points. It's not farfetched to think Kuhn could be the third halfback and Porter could be on the practice squad.

Breno Giacomini: Giacomini played well against Cleveland — until getting beat for a sack. It was an all-around difficult outing at Seattle for the third-year pro who looks like he should be a player but simply hasn't delivered. He gave up one sack, almost gave up another and short-circuited mentally for a false start that ruined the Packers' shot at a last-play field goal in the first half.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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