Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 28-23 divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field:
It was ugly for Seattle’s offense in the first half, and the Seahawks never got much of anything from their running backs. But once the game was put into quarterback Russell Wilson’s hands (and feet) in the second half the Packers had few answers. Wilson tired out the defense with his scrambles for first downs, then dialed up his connection with Tyler Lockett to maximum effect. But Seattle had the ball with a chance to go ahead, and a dropped pass by Malik Turner and a sack taken on third down led to a punt. The Seahawks never got the ball back.
The raw numbers suggest Seattle’s defense didn’t have that bad a day — 344 yards and 28 points aren’t big numbers in today’s NFL — and the Seahawks kept Green Bay running back Aaron Jones in check. But ultimately the defense’s job is to get stops. Seattle wasn’t able to stop the Packers in the red zone, as Green Bay scored touchdowns on all three of its red-zone opportunities, and the Seahawks couldn’t get enough stops on third down, as the Packers went 9-for-14 and converted two third-and-longs on the game’s final drive to run out the clock.
While it’s hard to blame kicker Jason Myers for missing a 50-yard field goal in freezing conditions — and he did make a 45-yarder earlier in the game — one can ask why a Pro Bowl kicker just wasn’t proficient from long distance all season. Punter Michael Dickson was an asset in the field-position game in the first half, but he had a chance to pin the Packers deep for their final drive and hit it too hard as it went 64 yards into the end zone. The return games were a wash and didn’t affect the outcome.
While some second-guessed the decisions to punt with 2:41 remaining, the Seahawks made the right calls throughout the second half. That included the fourth-down pass that set up a touchdown on the half’s first possession, and the late punt works great if the defense gets one stop on third-and-long. The coaches never could devise a way to slow Davante Adams, even though he’s Green Bay’s only threat at receiver. But credit the coaches for instilling the attitude that has the Seahawks believing they can still win, no matter how far behind they fall.
What’s been a wild roller-coaster ride of a season was, of course, going to end with a game like this. All season long Seattle was so good coming back from first-half deficits, so good in close games and so good on the road. But when a team plays with small margins the way the Seahawks did, eventually it’s going to tilt the other direction. It was a great comeback attempt Sunday, but the Seahawks just dug themselves too deep a hole.