GREEN BAY – The emphasis was on stopping Marshawn Lynch.
“You get what you emphasize,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.
Lynch was held to 41 yards rushing in the Packers’ 27-17 win over the visiting Seahawks on Sunday night. Eight months earlier, Lynch rushed for 157 yards, 120 of them in the second half, and rallied the Seahawks to a win over the Packers in the NFC title game.
Capers wasn’t going to allow that to happen in this most recent game. Lynch’s first two carries of the game netted a minus five yards, and the tone was set for the rest of the night.
“I thought we had a lot of energy. I really liked the way we played in the first half. Coming out in the second half, I’ll give Seattle credit. They made some adjustments and put the ball in Wilson’s hands … keeping the ball in the zone-read play; he’s very skilled at that,” Capers said.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson rushed for 45 yards in leading the Seahawks on two third-quarter touchdown drives that erased a 13-3 Packers halftime lead.
“Any time a team has a power runner like Lynch, that’s where it starts. One of the keys was not letting him get started. In the second half, they knew we were playing to take Lynch away,” Capers said.
How did the Packers stop Wilson?
“We had to adjust a little bit when it became apparent the ball was going to be in his hands. I think you saw Mike Neal make a really good play. If you get a good hit on a quarterback, you can discourage him from running,” Capers said.
“One of the big differences this week is we were able to get the down-and-distance situations in our favor,” he added.
Of course, stopping Lynch was the key to favorable down and distance. The Packers didn’t stop Matt Forte in the season opener until the second half of that game. It’s no coincidence the Packers took control at that point.
Capers and Head Coach Mike McCarthy praised the play of nose tackle B.J. Raji.
“He was active, he got off blocks, he controlled his gap,” Capers said of Raji.
Could this performance take the Packers defense to a higher level of play?
“What we’re looking for each week is improvement. Last night was a step in the right direction. If you can’t stop the run, you’re going to be in for a long day. It affects your third-down stuff. We got off the field on third down last night,” Capers said.
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