By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Seattle Seahawks’ eight-game winning streak during preseason play remains intact.
But the confidence of the starting offense may have eroded in the team’s 17-10 victory over Green Bay Friday night in front of a record crowd of 74,030 onlookers at Lambeau Field.
Quarterback Russell Wilson scuffled in his dress rehearsal for the regular season, finishing 11-for-17 for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Wilson’s first interception was tipped by Green Bay linebacker Nick Perry. The deflection bounced off linebacker Robert Francois’ hands, and was corralled by cornerback Casey Hayward.
On his second pick, Wilson tried to force a ball into double coverage down the middle of the field on a pass intended for Doug Baldwin, but picked off by safety Jerron McMillian.
“The good thing is we won the game,” Wilson said. “The disappointing part is the turnovers, and I can’t ever do that. I think that’s my main focus. It’s my fault, so I’ve got to fix those things.”
While Wilson shouldered the blame, he was running for his life most of the evening. Green Bay brought constant pressure defensively, sacking Wilson three times. Wilson finished with a 47.3 passer rating.
Head-scratching penalties once again plagued Seattle. In all, the Seahawks finished with 14 accepted penalties for 182 yards. Seattle now has 34 penalties that have been accepted by its opponents through three games this preseason, an average of just over 11 a contest.
“We’re over-trying,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, when asked to explain his team’s penalty issues.
“We’re trying too hard to make plays. That’s the situation, whether it’s the late hit, or whether it’s trying to reach out and grab a guy so he doesn’t tackle our returner. We’re trying too hard. And we have to trust that we’re okay doing the regular techniques.”
Offensive guard J.R. Sweezy was one of the team’s main offenders. Named the starting right guard after the Seahawks traded John Moffitt to Denver this week, Sweezy totaled three penalties on the first two series of the game — two holding calls and a personal foul penalty — and was replaced for a play by second-year pro Rishaw Johnson while he received an earful from Carroll on the sideline.
“I just wanted to let him know how serious it is when one guy makes a penalty,” Carroll said. “It’s not okay. And I just wanted to make sure, and get him right then. And he would have been pulled out in a regular-season game in the same fashion.”
The Seahawks looked good on the opening drive, marching 71 yards on 12 plays. However, Seattle had to settle for a 27-yard, Steven Hauschka field goal after Clay Matthews sacked Wilson on second-and-goal from Green Bay’s 9-yard line.
Wilson finished 5-for-5 for 67 yards on the opening drive.
The Packers answered on the ensuing drive, with Aaron Rodgers moving his team 52 yards on 11 plays, capped by Mason Crosby’s 38-yard field goal.
The Seahawks took the lead midway though the third quarter on another impressive run by rookie Christine Michael, who burst through a big hole up the middle, cutting up the right sideline for a 43-yard score. Michael finished with 97 yards on 11 carries.
The Packers tied the score at 10-all with an 11-play, 80-yard drive directed by backup quarterback Vince Young, who hit University of Washington product Jonathan Amosa for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 3:41 to play in the third quarter.
Seattle took the lead for good in the fourth quarter on receiver Stephen Williams’ third touchdown of the preseason, a 42-yard reception from quarterback Brady Quinn.
Seattle’s defense played well, holding the Packers to 75 rushing yards on 23 carries, for a 3.3 per carry average. Young led Green Bay with 39 rushing yards.
“They really had a hard time running the football inside,” Carroll said. “I thought our guys played great. Their running game came on the two breakouts on the quarterback runs. Other than that they really didn’t do too much.”
Carroll also got two impact players back on Seattle’s already-talented defense — outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel.
Irvin had been sidelined most of training camp with a groin injury, but managed to talk his way into an exhibition game for the first time this season after a good workout before the game. Irvin played in seven plays, finishing with a tackle for a 5-yard loss.
McDaniel had been penciled in as Seattle’s starting defensive tackle next to Brandon Mebane to begin training camp. But a groin injury forced him to miss the first two games. Against Green Bay, McDaniel finished with two tackles, along with a pass deflection.
“We really pushed the pocket so the quarterbacks didn’t have any room to throw,” McDaniel said. “We kind of got them out of the pocket, which made them uncomfortable, so I think that was a plus.”