BY Steve Rudman 03:19PM 01/11/2015

Rematch: Seahawks vs. Packers for NFC title

The Seahawks beat Green Bay 36-16 in the regular season opener. Among the differences then: WR Percy Harvin led Seattle in receiving, and Packers QB Rodgers was healthy.

Byron Maxwell (41) returns an Aaron Rodgers interception during Seattle’s 36-16 victory over Green Bay at CenturyLink Field Sept. 4. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Led by a hobbling but still effective QB Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers rallied in the second half to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 26-21 Sunday at Lambeau Field, earning the right to face the Seahawks next Sunday at CenturyLink Field for the NFC championship. The winner will advance to Super Bowl XLIX Feb. 1 in Glendale, AZ.

Dallas looked like an almost-certain winner inside the final five minutes when QB Tony Romo hit WR Dez Bryant for 31 yards on fourth-and two at the Green Bay one-yard line. But officials, following a challenge, reversed the ruling, declaring that Bryant didn’t control the ball throughout the process. Green Bay took over and ran out the clock.

Rodgers, the likely MVP this season, threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns — he completed all nine throws in the fourth quarter — while severely constricted with a torn calf muscle sustained two weeks earlier. He said after Sunday’s game that the injury will affect his mobility in Seattle, where Seahawks opened the 2014 season Sept. 4 against Green Bay with a 36-16 victory.

“I’ll do everything I can this week to get ready to go up to Seattle and play a great team,” Rodgers told FOX.

Last time: Seattle, 36-16

The Seahawks launched defense of their NFL title with a surprisingly easily victory. With the score 10-10 in the second quarter, the Seahawks reeled off 19 consecutive points and won going away with an array of contributors.

Russell Wilson completed 19 of 28 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and a 110.9 passer rating. He also ran for 29 yards. Marshawn Lynch ran 20 times for 110 yards and a pair of scores, and the Seahawks’ defense created its usual mayhem. If not for a muffed punt by Earl Thomas in the first quarter that set up Green Bay’s first touchdown, the game might have turned into a rout.

After the game, the buzz was all about Percy Harvin. The Seahawks employed Harvin, discarded to the New York Jets six weeks later, as a runner and a receiver. Harvin rushed four times for 41 yards, caught seven passes for 59 with a long gain of 33, and returned three kickoffs for 60 yards.

His speed overwhelmed Green Bay. Seattle amassed 398 yards of offense to 255 for the Packers and held Rodgers to 189 yards, one TD and 89.1 passer rating. He threw only one ball in CB Richard Sherman’s direction, preferring to isolate WR Jordy Nelson against Byron Maxwell on the other side of the field.

Nelson finished with nine receptions, but Maxwell came up with a third-quarter interception that deflected off Nelson’s hands.

“To keep Aaron down like that, I’m really excited about that,” said Pete Carroll. “But I’m just as excited about how we ran the ball.”

The Seahawks pounded out 207 yards — 5.6 per attempt — and held the Packers to 80, 34 by Eddie Lacy. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner led the way with a career-high 14 tackles.

“I think we just got kicked out of bed and onto a cement floor, and it hurt,” summarized Green Bay DL Mike Daniels.

Another Wilson rarity

Remarkable about Russell Wilson’s three touchdown passes Saturday night in Seattle’s 31-17 victory over Carolina is that all three scores came on third-and-long situations, starting with a third-and-nine at the Panthers 16 at the 1:01 mark of the first quarter. Wilson lined up in the shotgun.

Doug Baldwin beat safety Tre Boston on a double move, and Wilson lobbed high into the end zone, giving the Seahawks a 7-0 lead.  In the second quarter, Jermaine Kearse made a one-handed grab on third-and-seven and took it 63 yards for a 14-7 Seattle lead. Luke Willson’s TD catch in the fourth quarter, his first at CenturyLink Field, came on third-and-10 and staked the Seahawks to a 24-10 advantage.

Wilson’s three touchdown passes on third down were one more than he produced on third down during the entire regular season. He tossed a 14-yard TD to Marshawn Lynch on third-and-five at San Diego Sept. 14, and a seven-yard touchdown to Baldwin on third-and-seven at Kansas City Nov. 16.

Wilson finished eight-for-eight for 199 yards on all of his third downs, and his 24.9 yards per attempt on those plays were the highest by a qualified quarterback in a game this season.

“I was really fired up for Russell, he had a great night on third downs,” said Carroll. “Three third-down touchdown passes is just unheard of. How does that ever happen? He did a great job. That’s just a fantastic night of coming through in critical situations.”

This was a one-of-a-kind game for Wilson, who has produced several in the past three years, and one of the few performances of its kind by any quarterback in NFL playoff history.

Wilson, who had a 149.2 passer rating, threw three touchdowns without being intercepted and averaged 12.1 yards per pass. Only four other quarterbacks, and none since Peyton Manning in 2004, had such a game:

Year Date Quarterback Team Opp. A-C Yds. Y/A TD
2004 Jan. 4 Peyton Manning Ind Den 22-26 377 14.5 5
1976 Dec. 19 Terry Bradshaw Pitt Bal 14-18 264 14.6 3
1983 Dec. 24 Dave Krieg Sea Den 12-13 200 15.3 3
1994 Jan. 9 Jeff Hostetler Oak Den 13-19 294 15.4 3
2015 Jan. 10 Russell Wilson Sea Car 15-22 268 12.1 3

Kam vs. Cam

In addition to displaying some stunning hurdling ability when he tried to block a pair of field goal attempts, Kam Chancellor had 11 tackles against the Panthers and also delivered the game-clinching play: A 90-yard pick six off Cam Newton in the fourth quarter.

“He was all over the place,” Carroll said of Chancellor. “All the big hits that he made, all the things that he did . . . it was just fantastic.”

Chancellor’s 90-yard interception return is the longest return of any kind in Seahawks history, topping the 87-yard kickoff return that Harvin stunned the Denver Broncos with in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Only two other Seahawks had a return touchdown of any kind longer than 70 yards in a playoff game. Charlie Rogers returned a kickoff 85 yards against Miami Jan. 9, 2000, and Marcus Trufant burned the Washington Redskins with a 78-yard interception Jan. 5, 2008.

Chancellor’s return is also one of six pick-sixes in postseason history as long as 90 yards, and the first since James Harrison of Pittsburgh took one 100 yard against Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII (Feb. 1, 2009). The six:

Year Date Player Team Opp Yds. Victim/Quarter
1994 Jan. 8 George Teague GB Det 101 Erik Kramer, 3rd
2009 Feb. 1 James Harrison Pitt Ariz 100 Kurt Warner, 2nd
1983 Jan. 9 Darrol Ray NYJ Cin 98 Ken Anderson, 4th
2001 Jan. 6 Tory James Oak Mia 98 Jay Fieldler, 1st
2003 Jan. 19 Ronde Barber TB Phil 94 Donovan McNabb, 4th
2015 Jan. 10 Kam Chancellor Sea Car 90 Cam Newton, 4th

“It’s a credit to the defensive line on that interception,” said Chancellor. “I look back and I see Cam (Newton) just under pressure and it looked as if he was going to get tackled and he threw the ball right to me. I read the play, I saw the defensive line get pressure on Cam, credit goes to them, and I just finished the play.”

Richard Sherman, who also intercepted Newton, had two things to say about Chancellor.

First:

“It’s disappointing that he didn’t get the accolades that he deserved this year (second-team All-Pro). I think every year he gets snubbed more than anybody else. I think this year he should have been first team and it should have been easy. Who’s the other first-team All-Pro safety? Is he in the playoffs? No he’s not.”

Best:

“Kam Chancellor damages souls.”


YourThoughts

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Seattle harassed the great Rodgers relentlessly in the opener and he was
    healthy then. Can you imagine how many sack opportunities Bennett and
    Avril will have with this nagging calf issue the GB QB has?While I respect anybody’s opinion it would be hard for any team to play competitive ball if your QB has to run for his life and simply cant.
    You cant avoid the rush=your offense is
    disrupted= sacks and interceptions thwart your chance to win.This Hawk
    bunch is a defense with the intensity of piranhas.
    Lets face it.Dallas is a very average defense and that club almost pulled it off.
    This is why packer fans have hope as strange things can happen.
    I suggest strange things wont happen in Seattle’s Bastion. Go Hawks.

  • John Martin

    Had a dream of the pats and Hawks in the SB . . .

  • jafabian

    All the teams that the Packers lost to this season have a strong D-Line. (Seahawks, Lions, Bills, Saints) Rodgers was noticeably favoring his leg in the Packers game against the Cowboys. Not something he can afford seeing the Hawks pass rush over the weekend. The 12th Man should have their plane tickets to Arizona at this point, and not for spring training.

  • Matt

    If Lacy has a good day, that could open things up for the hobbled Rodgers. I’m thinking this game hinges on both teams’ running game. Let’s hope Seattle wins the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball…

  • RadioGuy

    I’ll be rooting for my Packers next weekend (some of us born before 1976 already had favorite teams by then), but I don’t see Seattle losing. Although I expect it to be closer than the 7-point spread Vegas is predicting, the Green Bay defense hasn’t impressed me all that much and the Seahawks’ D has been all but lights-out the past several weeks.
    Whatever happens, I’ll be glad when this one’s over so I can get foursquare behind the winner in the Super Bowl…otherwise, it’ll be like your two best friends beating the living snot out of each other for three hours and all you can do is watch.