GREEN BAY – The Packers got back in the win column with a 17-0 shutout of the Seahawks on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Here are five takeaways from the triumph:
1. The defense keeps standing taller and taller.
Not only did the Packers post their first shutout of the Matt LaFleur era, but they blanked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who had never left a game without any points.
Seattle's last shutout on offense was back in 2011, the year before Wilson was drafted.
"We're making a statement," inside linebacker Krys Barnes said. "The defense is playing at an elite level."
There's no arguing that. The Packers held the Seahawks to just 208 total yards, intercepted Wilson twice in the end zone, and sacked him three times. He had a paltry 39.7 passer rating as star receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combined for just five catches for 49 yards.
Wilson was returning from a three-week absence due to finger surgery, while Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hadn't practiced the last two weeks due to being on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
So while Green Bay's offense struggled almost as much to get going as Seattle's – Rodgers' passer rating was a rather pedestrian 75.5 – it was the Packers' defense that never cracked.
The unit didn't allow the Seahawks to cross the Green Bay 35-yard line the entire first half. Then, protecting a 3-0 lead with Seattle in the red zone, cornerback Kevin King intercepted a forced Wilson throw on third down. After it was 10-0, safety Adrian Amos hauled in a Wilson deep ball intended for Lockett against double coverage.
"We did what we set out to do – not give up anything cheap, nothing deep," Amos said.
The Packers have now held four of their last five opponents to 14 points or less, and six of their last nine to 17 or less.
2. It was potentially a very costly win, as the injuries just won't stop.
The Packers saw running back Aaron Jones (knee) and pass rushers Whitney Mercilus (biceps) and Rashan Gary (elbow) all exit the game. Head Coach LaFleur provided no updates immediately afterward, but this season continues to become one of attrition.
If Mercilus and Gary are both out for any extended period of time, the defense's only veteran edge rusher will be Preston Smith, who had a late fourth-quarter sack, the defense's third of the game.
3. If AJ Dillon has to become the workhorse back with Jones out, he's ready for it.
Dillon pounded out 66 rushing yards on 21 carries with two TDs and added 62 yards on two receptions, including a 50-yard catch-and-run on a swing pass in the fourth quarter on which he broke numerous tackles, for 128 yards from scrimmage in all.
Jones had 86 yards of his own (25 rushing, 61 receiving) before going down with the knee injury, so the 1-2 punch combined for 214 total yards. But chances are a greater workload will fall on Dillon in the near future, which will feel like his Boston College days for the second-year running back.
"People are not going to sleep on him as a weapon out of the backfield," LaFleur said. "He's just got great hands and … just runs really hard.
"He's done a much better job of learning how to run in his league, in terms of running behind his pads, lowering his pad level, really delivering the boom."
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 10 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021.
4. Once the offense started finishing drives, the game was over.
The Packers missed a field goal on the game's opening possession, settled for a field goal after a goal-to-go sequence in the second quarter, failed on fourth down on the edge of scoring territory, and then squandered another red-zone chance in the third quarter when Rodgers threw an ill-advised pass up for grabs on third down, getting picked off by safety Jamal Adams in the end zone.
Moving the ball wasn't really the problem, but scoring points was.
Two straight TD drives in the fourth quarter salted this one away, though. A ridiculous unsportsmanlike penalty on Seattle for throwing right tackle Billy Turner's shoe down the field gave the Packers 15 free yards on the first drive, and Dillon's long pass reception set up the second one. Dillon finished both with short TD runs, as some early short-yardage stops by the Seattle defense weren't repeated later on.
"It felt really good, just that I had that trust from the coaches and the guys in the huddle to get my number called again in that situation," Dillon said.
5. The Packers couldn't be in better position right now.
Even after losing last week, Green Bay is right back atop the NFC at 8-2, tied with Arizona for the best record, but owning the head-to-head tiebreaker, after the Cardinals lost to the Panthers.
Meanwhile, Dallas stayed a half game back at 7-2 with a home win over Atlanta, but Tampa Bay took its third loss on the season, at Washington, to fall to 6-3.
The Rams at 7-2 play Monday night at San Francisco and then, following their bye, come to Lambeau in two weeks for what promises to be a key game in the conference race.
In the NFC North, the Packers stayed 3½ games up on the 4-5 Vikings, who beat the Chargers on the road. Second-place Minnesota hosts Green Bay next week, and the Packers can gain an even tighter grip on the division with a win, which would put them 4½ games up with just six left to play.
If Minnesota is going to make the North a contest, it has to beat Green Bay next Sunday.
"We will flip the script here shortly and move onto the Vikings," LaFleur said.