Game Review: Third-Down Play On Both Sides Keys Third Win

SEATTLE - Packers players and coaches have repeatedly talked the past few weeks of the team’s inability to play four quarters and finish games, but on Sunday Green Bay displayed one of their most complete performances of the season in a 27-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. - More Packers-Seahawks Game Center

SEATTLE - Packers players and coaches have repeatedly talked the past few weeks of the team's inability to play four quarters and finish games, but on Sunday Green Bay displayed one of its most complete performances of the season in a 27-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Packers (3-3) and put them in a three-way tie atop the NFC North with the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings.

"I thought the win today was a smart win for our football team," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought we played very well throughout the major situations. To control the time of possession the way we were able to, to come into this stadium which is a tough place to play against a very well-coached football team, just very pleased with the victory.

"The number of long drives the offense was able to sustain was obviously a big factor, and the field position, the defense playing at the level they played with the turnovers in the second half. So I'm very pleased with the victory."

Players and coaches talked all week about the importance of getting off to a fast start at Qwest Field, one of the loudest venues in the NFL. After falling behind last week 10-0 to Atlanta as the Falcons scored on their first two possessions, the defense was able to set the tone immediately on Sunday, forcing the Seahawks to go three-and-out on their first two series.

The Packers got on the board first on their second possession of the game as they took over at their 46 after a 23-yard punt return by Will Blackmon. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, starting after being limited all week again with a sprained shoulder, hooked up with rookie wide receiver Jordy Nelson three times for 32 yards and Mason Crosby capped the drive with a 29-yard field goal.

After the Seahawks tied the game at three on a 50-yard field goal from Olindo Mare, one of Rodgers' only mistakes of the afternoon gave the Seahawks the ball at the Green Bay 32.

Rodgers was sacked by linebacker Julian Peterson on third down and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. After running back T.J. Duckett converted a fourth-and-one with a 9-yard sweep, quarterback Charlie Frye, starting in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck, threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson to give Seattle a 10-3 lead.

"It felt like we were kind of sleepwalking early on, but we just stuck to it," Rodgers said. "I think the biggest thing Coach (McCarthy) has been trying to harp on is just stay the course.

"I think it was a wakeup call, the very poor turnover by myself. Instead of kind of, 'Oh, here we go again,' I think the attitude was very positive on the sidelines. To be able to put together (a drive) and score the next time, it was huge for our team confidence-wise going into halftime."

The drive that tied the game at 10 at the half was a 13-play, 66-yarder that chewed up 7:09 of clock and included three conversions on third down.

Facing a third-and-seven on the Green Bay 37, Rodgers hooked up with wide receiver Donald Driver for a 19-yard gain. After running back Ryan Grant rushed for six yards to convert another third down, Rodgers completed a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings on third-and-nine down to the Seattle 2.

Rodgers finished the drive off with a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown, which was initially ruled down at the 1 but was overturned on a booth review after replays showed he extended the ball over the plane before his knees were down.

After the Packers' defense forced three-and-outs on the first two possessions of the second half, another key third-down throw from Rodgers put the Packers up for good.

Taking over at the Seattle 49, Rodgers connected with Jennings on a perfectly-thrown deep ball down the right sideline over cornerback Marcus Trufant for a 45-yard score.

Following yet another three-and-out by the Seahawks, the Packers put together their most time-consuming drive of the day, this time a 15-play, 84-yard series that included three more third-down conversions and was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to fullback John Kuhn for a 24-10 lead.

"I think that was really the backbreaker there, the 85-yarder where we kept the drive alive," Rodgers said. "You make your money on third downs. To be 10-for-18 (on third down) today was definitely a testament to the protection, to guys making plays, and those keep drives alive. You've got to have those to score points."

Rodgers finished the afternoon 21-of-30 (70 percent) for 208 yards and two touchdowns for a 111.5 passer rating.

The Packers' ability to sustain drives was also aided by 90 yards on a career-high 33 carries from Grant, which contributed to Green Bay's season-high time of possession at 37:26.

{sportsad300}"I think the first part of it is the attempts were where they needed to be," McCarthy said. "To have the ability to run the ball 30 times, that's definitely the first step. It wasn't as clean as we'd like based on the communication, some of the things we did with the run-blocking unit. I'm sure when we watch it tomorrow, those are things that we can correct and get better at."

While the offense had success on third down throughout the afternoon, the defense was equally impressive in their best performance of the season as the Seattle offense converted just 4-of-11 third downs and posted only 177 yards of total offense. It was the lowest total allowed by the Packers since vs. Minnesota (Dec. 21, 2006) when they gave up only 102 yards.

"Excellent performance from the defense today," McCarthy said. "We'll take that every game. It was what we needed, what we needed as a team. We needed to come in here and play very well on defense, win the field position battle.

"I give a lot of credit to our coaches. I thought our coaches, they got after the players in a positive manner throughout the week. Our practice structure and our practice performance finally carried over to the game."

The Packers now look ahead to a home game against perennial AFC power Indianapolis (3-2) before a week off. With the Vikings and Bears playing each other next week, the Packers know they could be tied for first with just one team at the bye, but McCarthy said that isn't the focus with a long season ahead.

"I don't get into the first place, second place thing right now," McCarthy said "I think it's a little early for that. I'm more in tune with the path that our football team is on.

"It's important to navigate any particular season. Every team has things that happen to them, and you need to find a way to overcome the negatives and continue to build on the positives, and really that's where my focus is."

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