Seahawks bringing road-warrior mentality into matchup with Packers

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

GREEN BAY – The Seahawks earned their trip to Lambeau Field the same way they've won a large majority of their games this season.

They won on the road, and pulled out a close one.

Seattle's 17-9 wild-card victory at Philadelphia on Sunday improved the Seahawks' road record this season to an impressive 8-1 ahead of their visit to Green Bay for the NFC Divisional playoff.

It also boosted their record in games decided by eight points or less to 11-2.

"They're a tough team," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday as the Packers began preparations finally knowing their upcoming opponent. "They've been extremely tough on the road."

Known over the bulk of the past decade for their home-field advantage, powerful running game and smothering defense, these are different Seahawks.

Four of their five losses came at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, their top running backs have been replaced due to injuries, and the defense ranked in the bottom third of the league in the regular season in both yards (26th) and points (22nd) allowed.

This Seattle team has put a huge burden on the arm and legs of QB Russell Wilson, found a dynamic receiver in rookie DK Metcalf, and played outstanding red-zone defense in keeping the Eagles out of the end zone Sunday. That was the formula for surviving on the road in Philly.

LaFleur said he was "glued into that game," knowing it would determine the Packers' opponent following the Vikings' upset of the Saints earlier in the day.

The Packers returned to the practice field for a short, one-hour workout Monday, and now the coaching staff will be building a full game plan to present to the players on Wednesday.

Injury-wise, the Packers are healthier than they were last week, when four of their five starters on the offensive line missed practice time. Center Corey Linsley (back), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion), right guard Billy Turner (ankle) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (illness) all returned to practice in some capacity Monday.

Ironically, the only healthy starting lineman from last week, rookie left guard Elgton Jenkins, was the one missing Monday's workout due to an illness that's been going around the locker room. Also not practicing were fullback Danny Vitale (knee), along with receiver Allen Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan (both unspecified). The first official injury report of the week will be released Wednesday.

Like the Seahawks, the Packers are no strangers to close games, of course. Eight of Green Bay's 13 wins this season have come by eight points or less.

This postseason rivalry also has produced plenty of drama, with two of the previous three meetings going to overtime. Al Harris' pick-six in the 2003 wild-card round was the first NFL postseason game decided by a defensive score, while Seattle's comeback in the 2014 NFC title game goes down in history for both teams for different reasons.

Only seven players on the Packers' current 53-man roster were part of that game, so the talk surrounding it will be far more prevalent outside the locker room than inside.

Seattle's road-warrior status this season is interesting when juxtaposed against the recent history in the all-time series, which shows the home team winning the last eight matchups, dating back to 2009, and 13 of the last 14.

Green Bay's win at Seattle in 2008 in Aaron Rodgers' first season as a starting quarterback is the last time the road team emerged victorious between these two, and the only time since 1999, when former Packers coach Mike Holmgren brought the Seahawks to Lambeau Field in his first season at the Seattle helm and left with a victory.

The Packers are 7-1 at home this season and are playing at home in the divisional round for the first time in five years, when they beat the Cowboys to set up the fateful conference title matchup in Seattle.

"I don't know how important it is for us to have it here," cornerback Tramon Williams said of the upcoming matchup. "But we're glad it's here."

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