Rodgers and his first unit looked seemingly unstoppable for the second week in a row as they scored two touchdowns in two possessions, getting the Packers off to a fast start in what became a 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night at Qwest Field.
Rodgers produced with both the quick strike and a long, methodical drive. He hit Greg Jennings on a 56-yard bomb on the Packers’ first offensive play, leading to a 1-yard touchdown toss to John Kuhn just four snaps later.
Then he directed a 12-play, 76-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes on the clock. His favorite target on the march was tight end Jermichael Finley, who caught three 12-yard passes, the last one a bullet over the middle on third down for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead as the first quarter concluded.
“The line does great job, and it starts with those guys up front,” Rodgers said. “We were able to move the pocket a little bit, run the ball effectively when we have to, and keep the defense guessing. When they’re guessing, we’re going to strike.”
Finley also had a key third-down conversion on the opening drive, snagging a 12-yard completion on third-and-8 from the Seattle 13. Finley, whom Rodgers credited with running more detailed routes in his third year in this offense, finished with four catches for 48 yards in his one quarter of action.
Rodgers finished 8-of-11 for 116 yards with the two scores. That puts his two-game preseason totals at 20-of-24 for 275 yards with three TDs for a QB rating of 154.0. A perfect rating is 158.3.
“That just means that the way I’m seeing the game is how I want it to be going into the season,” Rodgers said. “The checks I’m making at the line of scrimmage are the correct checks, I’m getting us in good situations, and accuracy wise I’m throwing the ball pretty well. But I think it really starts up front. When those guys give me time, we’re tough to stop.”
For the second straight game, Rodgers wasn’t sacked, and wasn’t pressured much at all. Playing without Donald Driver, who was a healthy scratch, didn’t seem to matter much to the offense, which has now scored four touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of play this month.
“That’s where we want to be going, the direction we want to be headed,” Jennings said. “Obviously we have a great quarterback and a lot of unique assets on this team that can get the job done. He has the unfortunate but yet fortunate duty of distributing that ball to a lot of talented guys, and he’s doing a phenomenal job with it.
“He definitely looks ready to roll.”
Meanwhile the first-string defense isn’t quite there yet but it got off to a better start in this game than last week’s, forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession.
But Seattle scored touchdowns on its next two drives, the first one courtesy of a short field when Josh Wilson ran back a kickoff 54 yards to the Green Bay 49-yard line. Matt Hasselbeck’s 11-yard TD pass to Deion Branch tied the game at 7.
The Seahawks then tied it at 14 as well with an 80-yard drive, this one helped by two defensive penalties against a cornerback group minus Charles Woodson (another healthy scratch). A pass interference on Tramon Williams counted for 14 yards and a third-down illegal contact foul on Pat Lee gave Seattle a first down. Leon Washington’s 11-yard TD run off the left side capped the drive.
“Defensively, we had a lot of great flashes out there,” cornerback Brandon Underwood said. “But the big word I’m going to use tonight is consistency.”
Underwood was speaking about ups and downs for both himself and the unit as a whole, which did keep the Seahawks off the board on their final two possessions of the first half. Like last week, the defense played its base, nickel and dime packages without a lot of exotic looks, but it still doesn’t like getting scored upon.
“We know we can do it; it’s just a matter of getting everything cleaned up,” defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. “We’re killing ourselves out there with some of the mistakes we’re making. We know that’s not like us, that’s not how we play, and we’ve got to get it corrected.”
From there the game remained a close, back-and-forth affair the rest of the way. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn directed a field-goal drive against Seattle’s No. 1 defense to give the Packers a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Seattle then scored 10 straight points in the second half to go up 24-17, as quarterback Charlie Whitehurst drove the Seahawks 60 yards for a TD and 29 yards for a field goal following a sack/fumble of Flynn. That was the Packers’ second turnover in their first three possessions of the second half, with Flynn also throwing an interception on a deflected pass. In addition, Flynn had to deal with starting two drives backed up to his own 1-yard line, so nothing came easy.
“I felt we moved the ball up and down the field a little bit,” Flynn said. “But we just couldn’t get many points on the board.”
Late turnovers for the defense helped the Packers rally to win. Linebacker Spencer Havner’s interception inside the Green Bay 10-yard line turned away a golden opportunity for the Seahawks, who had recovered a fumbled kickoff by Sam Shields. Havner’s big play led to a 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby that was good with plenty of distance to spare, cutting the deficit to 24-20 midway through the fourth quarter.
No. 3 quarterback Graham Harrell then led the game-winning drive on the Packers’ next possession. He hit rookie receiver Chastin West for 23 yards before running back Brandon Jackson, filling in for rookie Quinn Porter after Porter left with an ankle injury, broke off consecutive runs of 26 and 12 yards to get the ball in the end zone with 3:34 left.
Finally, Shields redeemed himself by intercepting Whitehurst on Seattle’s final drive when a pass deflected off tight end Anthony McCoy. That was the Packers’ fourth interception through two preseason games, which they’ve coincidentally split in the won-loss column by identical 27-24 scores.
“It’s a good win,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “Anytime you win a football game, it’s a positive for your football team, but we’ll continue to work on the fundamental aspects of our blueprint for success: taking care of the football – we need to do a better job with that, even though we did a good job of taking it away – and making sure we win the field-position battle.”
Seattle game - Additional coverage