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Hodge Scores Defensive TD In First NFL Start


SEATTLE - Middle linebacker Abdul Hodge made his first NFL start on Monday night in Seattle, and it didn't take long for him to make a big impact in the game.

The Seahawks had seemingly all the momentum after erasing an early seven-point deficit with three field goals, and Seattle was looking to put together a two-minute drive to add to their lead late in the first half.

But on the first play after the two-minute warning, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was hit from behind while winding up to throw, and the ball fluttered into the air. Hodge snagged the fumble in midair and raced untouched 29 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers ahead 14-9.

"Our d-line tipped the ball and it just came straight to me," Hodge said. "And I took it."

Hodge's big play was part of an opportunistic first half by the Packers defense. Green Bay had four turnovers in the first half alone, including three interceptions.

Charles Woodson had his first two-interception game since playing for Oakland against Chicago on Oct. 5, 2003. Al Harris also had an interception in the first half.

But unfortunately, the Packers turned those four turnovers into just 14 points, and the defense wasn't able to get any more takeaways in the second half.

"Turnovers are a mystery," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "You just have to take them when you get them."

Hodge, a third-round draft choice out of Iowa, was starting for Nick Barnett, who broke his right hand in last week's game against New England and missed a game for just the second time in his four-year career.

Hodge had recovered from an injury of his own, missing five games with a bad knee before returning to action last week against the Patriots.

He finished his first start with six tackles, including five solo. He was upstaged in that department by fellow rookie and Big Ten alum A.J. Hawk, who tallied a career-high 15 tackles (10 solo), but overall it was a solid beginning for the promising rookie.

"It was what I thought it was, fast-paced, just tough football," Hodge said. "That's what it was, a dogfight."

All through training camp and the preseason, Hodge's weakness appeared to be pass coverage, but he held up well with two passes defensed until being beaten in the fourth quarter by tight end Jerramy Stevens for a 3-yard touchdown pass.

"They definitely looked at me in the passing game," Hodge said. "I think I did all right. There are definitely some plays I could have played better, especially that last touchdown."

{sportsad300}The Packers and Hodge certainly wanted the outcome in their favor, but either way the rookie linebacker will always have one heck of a memory from his first NFL start.

"He made a huge play on that touchdown," Poppinga said. "He's a young guy that's going to continue to get better, with every opportunity he receives and every bit of experience he gets, so I think he's on the right track."

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