Game notes: Rookie kicker Anders Carlson finishes preseason on highest note

Zach Tom settling in at right tackle; Benny Sapp snags game-clinching INT

Green Bay Packers K Anders Carlson (17), joined by P Pat O'Donnell and TE Tucker Kraft (85), reacts to making a 57-yard field goal just before halftime of the team's 19-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 26, 2023.

GREEN BAY – One of Anders Carlson's main focuses this training camp has been staying present whenever the Packers' offense is on the field, understanding he could be pressed into action at a moment's notice.

During Saturday's preseason finale against Seattle, the rookie kicker was thrust into the fray in the biggest possible way.

Facing fourth-and-10 with 26 seconds left in the half, the Packers sent out Daniel Whelan to punt from the Seattle 44. On the play, however, Seahawks receiver John Hall was ruled offside.

Accepting the 5-yard penalty, Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur sent out Carlson and the field-goal unit for a 57-yard attempt that the rookie sixth-round pick drilled through the uprights.

Carlson's two made field goals were pivotal in Green Bay ultimately picking up the 19-15 victory over the Seahawks in front of 72,105 at a windy Lambeau Field on Saturday afternoon.

"It was awesome. These are the opportunities you kind of dream of," Carlson said. "Just going out there in the preseason, the way I like to … Great opportunity. Front line did really good. Pat (O'Donnell), great hold. I put it through, did my job."

There was a nasty wind current moving through Lambeau on Saturday. Receiver Christian Watson noted afterwards that some players were joking on the sideline about how the flags on the top of the two uprights were moving in opposite directions.

Carlson felt good about his line, though. He aimed for the right upright and was able to curve the kick in over the final 10 yards. During his five years at Auburn, Carlson's longest make of 53 yards came his freshman year in 2018.

Preseason statistics aren't logged in the Packers' official annals, but Carlson's kick was 1 yard farther than Mason Crosby's team record of 56 yards at Lambeau, a mark the Packers' all-time leading scorer hit just last year.

Carlson has had some ups and downs this summer, but most of his mis-hits have come in practice. Carlson went 4-for-4 in the preseason games, with a 52-yard make against New England last week and the 57-yarder on Saturday.

The 6-foot-5 kicker knows there's still work to be done, though. He also went 6-of-9 on extra points this preseason, though there wasn't much Carlson could've done about the one Michael Jackson blocked in the second quarter of Saturday's contest.

"I think there's always things to grow from and learn from," Carlson said. "I think there's been a lot of good. There's been some bad, too. Every day is a learning lesson no matter how good or bad I did. Just get back with the coaches, get back with the guys in my room and learn and get better every day."

Zach Tom feeling at home at right tackle: It took a little getting used to, but the Packers' do-it-all offensive lineman has settled into his new spot anchoring the right side of the starting O-line.

Tom has been working almost exclusively as Green Bay's No. 1 right tackle the past two weeks and was again deployed there against Seattle, while Rasheed Walker started at left tackle in place of David Bakhtiari.

While Tom played virtually everywhere as a rookie, the 2022 fourth-round pick spent most of his time at left tackle and center during his four seasons at Wake Forest. The extra reps at right tackle have added to his comfort, though.

"Yeah, I can say that now," said Tom when asked if he feels like a right tackle now. "I definitely feel a lot more comfortable with my footwork. Yeah, I do."

The Packers' offensive line played some clean football during the preseason. If the initial statistics hold, Green Bay did not allow a quarterback hit during either of its preseason games at Lambeau.

The Packers also rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries against the Seahawks.

"It's something we take pride in, keeping the quarterback clean," Tom said. "Obviously having two straight games where we don't allow a sack … it's something we take pride in and are really proud of, for sure."

The Green Bay Packers hosted the Seattle Seahawks for their preseason finale at Lambeau Field on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.

McGough starts it…: A late arrival to training camp, Alex McGough hasn't had a ton of opportunities to flash the arm that helped him win USFL MVP honors earlier this offseason.

When the game was on the line, however, the Packers' third-string quarterback let it fly when he connected with rookie receiver Jadakis Bonds on a 52-yard go route with a little more than four minutes left in regulation and Green Bay trailing 15-12.

McGough then hit Cody Chrest on a quick slant to convert on third-and-7, setting up Nate McCrary 's 1-yard TD run to put the Packers back ahead.

"It's unbelievable. Whenever you can win a game, whatever level you're at, it's an accomplishment that you just can't replicate feelings like that," said McGough, who didn't play in last Saturday's injury-shortened game against New England.

"It was awesome to get the opportunity to go in and better opportunity to go out and prove that, with the circumstances – we're down in the game, we've got to score a touchdown to get ahead – that we went down there and executed. All 11 guys did what they had to do to put it in the end zone."

Just before McGough entered, No. 2 QB Sean Clifford said he got his arm caught between two helmets during his sneak on third-and-1 at the end of the third quarter. He remained on the sideline, though, and said his withdrawal was precautionary.

…and Sapp seals it: The Seahawks still had an opportunity to pull back ahead after McCrary's touchdown, with rookie quarterback Holton Ahlers driving Seattle all the way down to Green Bay's 12-yard line with 19 seconds to go.

On third-and-7, however, undrafted rookie Benny Sapp III stepped in front of a pass intended for Tyjon Lindsey in the end zone and intercepted it to seal the Packers' victory.

Sapp's father and namesake played eight NFL seasons after entering the league as a college free agent in 2004. The younger Sapp said his dad was already calling when he got back to the locker room.

"He's very excited because he went the route that I'm going right now, so I'm just trying to stack days," said Sapp III. "What he does is tell me to take every day as gameday and just stay prepared for any situation. It don't matter when you get in, it's what you do when you get in. So, shoutout to my dad, for sure."


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