SEATTLE—One very bad quarter on each side of the ball proved way too much for the Packers to overcome on Thursday night.
Things couldn’t have gone much worse on defense in the second period, or on offense in the third period, as the Packers bowed to the Seahawks, 36-16, at CenturyLink Field to open the 2014 season.
The defensive struggles began with back-to-back big gains on the third and fourth snaps of the second quarter. The twin 33-yard plays got the Seahawks in the end zone for the first of two second-quarter TDs.
Collisions in the secondary, busted coverages and missed tackles were the problems as receivers Percy Harvin and Ricardo Lockette broke free and covered 66 yards in a hurry.
It got not better on Seattle’s next drive, as a 24-yard reception by tight end Zach Miller preceded a 21-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, setting up Lynch’s 9-yard TD run that put the Seahawks ahead for good at 17-10.
“We didn’t carry forward what we started in the preseason,” linebacker Brad Jones said. “That wasn’t the defense I know that we can play. That wasn’t it. That was not it. We have to figure out what we did, because that’s unacceptable.”
The runs by Lynch led to a 20-carry, 110-yard performance from him. Harvin added to the ground game with some jet sweeps, Robert Turbin chipped in and Russell Wilson did enough scrambling to give the Seahawks 207 yards on the ground for the game.
“Without the benefit of viewing the film, it’s hard to tell what went wrong,” outside linebacker Julius Peppers said. “My opinion was it was a misfit here, a misfit there. When you have a stretch running team like this, all it takes is one guy out of position and … explosive play.”
No one on defense was happy, and everyone was left searching for answers after an offseason defensive makeover of sorts didn’t produce a defensive performance that looked much different from a year or two ago.
“I want to spit on the way I played,” defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. “I can only speak for myself. It was a pitiful performance. I need to make a lot of corrections in my game. I don’t think I played that bad since I was about eight. I need to get back to the drawing board.”
Thoughts of a comeback took a hit when the offense was the unit losing its mojo in the third quarter.
An interception off the hands of receiver Jordy Nelson, a fourth-down sack near midfield and a sack-fumble-safety in a span of three possessions made it a quarter to forget, and the deficit only grew.
“I’ve got to make that play,” Nelson said of the deflected pick, which led to a field goal by the Seahawks. “Big change in the game. An opportunity to make a big play, looking back at the picture of it, and I didn’t do it.”
The gamble on fourth-and-5 from the Seattle 41 was wrecked by a Cliff Avril sack, and it was Michael Bennett’s sack that forced the fumble and safety. That made it 22-10, and the Packers didn’t get within two touchdowns the rest of the way.
“We put our defense in bad position three straight drives,” guard T.J. Lang said. “That’s not the way you want to start the second half. We put ourselves in too big a hole to climb out of.
“It tells us we need to get better, man. I think we were all confident coming into the game, but we took a shot in the gut.”
All that matters now is how the team reacts and responds. The home opener against the Jets is 10 days away.
“It’s early in the season,” Lang said. “There’s no reason to really panic. But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
On both sides of the ball.
“I think we’ll respond well,” Jones said. “I think everybody will regroup and be more critical of themselves than anybody can be. We will right this. We’ll right it.” ADDITIONAL COVERAGE -