I wasn’t feeling great about this game in the early parts of this week, but I started getting a bit more confident as the week went on.
Still, never in my dreams did I imagine the kind of dominance we saw on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers was firing bullets and the defense picked off Russell Wilson 5 times. It was the first 5 interception game of Wilson’s career. His receivers didn’t help him out much, but the Packers defense was incredible; they generated a lot of pressure on Wilson, forced some poor throws and capitalized on mistakes. That’s something we haven’t seen very much of from the Packers this season.
Every time the Seahawks threatened, the Packers forced another turnover.
This was an incredible game from start to finish. I wish I could have been there in person, but watching it from a local sports bar offering $0.50 mixed drinks wasn’t so bad, either.
The Packers have won three in a row and have three games remaining on the schedule: the Bears, the Vikings and the Lions. Running the table is still very much in play.
Let’s get to the film.
I talked about Damarious Randall’s interception at the end of the first half in One Big Play this week. You can read it here.
I decided to skip The Bad this week. The Packers just beat the Seahawks 38-10. I just didn’t feel like dwelling on any nit-picky little plays. I wanted to celebrate, so that is what we will be doing.
Let’s start off with some defensive plays.
For the sake of keeping this gif kind of short, I cut off a part at the beginning that I really like, although you can see the tail end of it here. Damarious Randall  starts this play across from Tyler Lockett  at the bottom of the screen. As Lockett runs across the formation, Randall begins to follow him, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  waves to Randall to tell him to stay on his side of the line. So Randall settles into a middle zone, looking into the backfield. Meanwhile, Clinton-Dix keeps up with Lockett across the formation. Lockett gets the ball on a Jet Sweep and Clinton-Dix is in a perfect position to make the play.
Ladarius Gunter  and Micah Hyde  do a great job of holding the edge, while Jayrone Elliott’s  pursuit means Lockett doesn’t have a cutback lane. Clinton-Dix sees all this, so, instead of trying to shoot through a hole, he plays behind Gunter and is able to make the tackle when Lockett cuts it to the sideline.
This was on 2nd and 3 on the Seahawks opening drive. Clinton-Dix making this tackle meant the Seahawks were facing 3rd and 1 instead of 1st and goal.
Let’s see what happened on 3rd and 1.
Seahawks have Thomas Rawls  lined up in the backfield next to Russell Wilson . At the snap, Rawls is taking the handoff and running across the formation, allowing him to build up a head of steam as he hits the line.
The left side of the Seahawks line is sliding to the right. The right side of the line sees Germain Ifedi  and Justin Britt  downblocking Letroy Guion  and Bradley Sowell  kicking out to block Datone Jones . The combination of blocks on the right side opens a big hole.
But two things go wrong for the Seahawks. First of all, Rees Odhiambo  isn’t able to slide quickly enough to his right, allowing a gap for Jayone Elliott  to slip through. Elliott explodes through the hole and into the backfield to meet Rawls.
The hole the Seahawks opened up on the right side of their line? Jake Ryan  reads it perfectly. With neither Ifedi or Britt able to get off the Guion block, Ryan is able to shoot through the gap and meet Rawls head on.
Both of these combined means Rawls has nowhere to go. It’s a loss of 1 on 3rd and 1. Instead of getting a first down and a chance at tying the game up at 7-7, they settle for a field goal, making it 7-3.
Before this game, a lot of people were talking about how the Packers needed to “set the tone” early. Between the long touchdown to Davante Adams on the Packers first drive and this huge stand against the Seahawks on their first drive, I’d say they set the tone pretty well.
The need for the Packers to be able to generate a consistent pass rush on Russell Wilson  while cutting off escape lanes was a point of concern going into this game, especially with Nick Perry not being able to play. I thought the Packers would be able to get a pass rush – per Football Outsiders, the Seahawks came into this game allowing pressure on 24.5% of dropbacks, 31st in the league – but keeping Wilson contained was a different matter entirely.
On this play, Wilson playfakes then drops back to pass. He doesn’t find anyone immediately open. Pressure is applied from the outside by Datone Jones  and Dean Lowry . Neither Jones or Lowry is too aggressive here: Jones holds the outside while Lowry – after slipping – holds the escape lane to the inside. Combine that with Julius Peppers  coming from the other side of the line and the Packers have done exactly what they needed to: apply pressure without overcommitting and allowing Wilson an escape hatch.
Once Wilson sets up to throw, Lowry runs at Wilson, making him fade back from his throw a little. This causes Wilson to miss a wide open Jimmy Graham  down the field.
This is exactly what the Packers needed to do to keep Wilson from killing them and they did it to perfection. For the game, Wilson only ran 4 times for 19 yards, and he was sacked 3 times for -22 yards.
Here’s another example of that. Datone Jones  starts on the left side of the screen and drives Bradley Sowell  into the backfield. His rush takes him past Russell Wilson . Between this and Mike Daniels  being moved to the outside, you can see Wilson looking at the open lane to run through. Just as he takes his first step, Daniels spins out of his block to close the hole and Jones disengages with Sowell to come back to Wilson. Wilson hesitates when he sees Daniels and Jones closes the deal with a sack.
Kenny Clark  was on the field for 25 snaps in this game – the most snaps he has seen in a game since Week 7 against Atlanta – and he looked pretty good. He starts this play on the right side of the screen. Bradley Sowell  is supposed to be pulling around the line to secure a hole for Thomas Rawls  to the left. Clark doesn’t allow this to happen. He fires off the line and engages Sowell, driving him into the backfield and eventually knocking him to the ground. Between this and Mike Daniels  disengaging with Justin Britt  with a swim move and crashing through the hole, Rawls is forced to reverse field. Clark wheels off his block and, combined with Micah Hyde  on the edge, takes down Rawls in the backfield.
You guys ready for an interception party? I know I am.
Morgan Burnett  starts on the line, matched up man-to-man with Jimmy Graham . Graham is running an in route and Burnett is on his hip the entire time. You can see Burnett and Graham at the top of the frame. Burnett turns at the same time Graham does, almost as if Burnett is running the route with Graham instead of covering him. Graham falls as Russell Wilson  throws the pass, but I think Burnett would have intercepted it even if Graham had stayed upright. You can see him undercutting the route even as Wilson is winding up to throw. Great coverage by Burnett and a perfect break on the ball. You can’t really play it any better than Burnett does.
Let’s talk about Ladarius Gunter  for a second. He was being killed by everyone earlier this season for his poor play. The reality is that, due to injuries, he was forced into a bigger role than he could handle. Now that the secondary is healthy, he’s back to the role he should be in and he has been playing extremely well.
Take this play. He starts at the top of the screen, matched up man-to-man with Jermaine Kearse . Though he is man-to-man, he has a little help, though it doesn’t look like it at first. It looks like the Packers are in Cover 1 Man Under, with Gunter on Kearse and Quinten Rollins  man-to-man with Tyler Lockett  in the slot to that side. In reality, the Packers are in Cover 3 Zone Under, with Gunter in man-to-man. Rollins follows Lockett up the field and releases him to Micah Hyde  when the route goes to the middle. All Russell Wilson  sees is Kearse man-to-man with Gunter. Wilson takes the snap and throws the ball up.
Gunter forces Kearse to the sideline, leaving Wilson with very little room to fit this pass. With only 20 yards of field, Kearse doesn’t have much room to break away from Gunter and Gunter is able to stick with Kearse in this short space. Gunter turns when Kearse does and doesn’t allow Kearse to come back to the ball. Since Gunter is also playing the ball, it’s not pass interference.
Gunter knocks the ball up in the air. Since Rollins has fallen back in zone instead of following Lockett to the middle of the field, he’s in a perfect position to nab the interception.
Rollins plays the deflection perfectly and is able to get two feet down. The score was 21-3 at this point, early in the second quarter.
Sometimes you play solid defense and it pays off, and sometimes you just get lucky. Russell Wilson  has Doug Baldwin  on the outside and delivers a decent pass. Perhaps a bit high, but not a bad throw by any stretch of the imagination. Damarious Randall  falls down on the play, leaving Baldwin wide open.
The ball goes through Baldwin’s hands, hits him in the facemask and pops up straight to Randall. If Randall hadn’t slipped, it’s very likely this ball falls harmlessly to the turf. After making an incredible interception at the end of the first half, Randall has one fall right into his lap here.
One more. Russell Wilson  throws high to Troymaine Pope . It glances off his hands and falls right to Micah Hyde . This is not a good throw by Wilson – a high bullet to a running back very close to him – but the Packers were pretty lucky that Hyde was right there to pick it off.
The Packers haven’t been great at grabbing interceptions this year. They entered this game with 8 interceptions on the year. They walked out with 13. Sometimes the ball just goes your way.
This takes place the play after the Hyde interception we just looked at. This is the second straight week the Packers have run an end-around to Jeff Janis . I don’t want to say too much about this play in-and-of itself, but I do want to bring up what Davante Adams  did on this play. He starts the play as the outside receiver at the top of the field, across from Richard Sherman . Adams begins running a route inside to open up the edge for Janis. Sherman slips, then Adams lays into him. When Sherman attempts to get back up, Adams throws him down, then blocks him to the outside to open up a lane inside for Janis. I could watch Adams throw Sherman down all day.
You know what? I’ve got a lot of vacation time between now and the end of the year. I may just spend a day doing nothing but watching this gif.
The Packers were up 31-10 with 5:50 remaining in the game when they ran this play. They didn’t do this just to rub it in. Again, this was the second straight week they ran a variation of this play. They didn’t want to score a touchdown here as much as they wanted this on tape for other teams to consider. Last week they ran this with Ty Montgomery in the backfield, did a fake to Montgomery to the right then went with the end around to Janis to the left. Keep this in mind in a big moment going forward. The Packers are going to show this look – Janis running behind the play for an end around – then go the opposite direction. They’ll get the defense moving with Janis then hit something the other way. Maybe it’ll be a run. Maybe it’ll be a screen. I don’t know exactly what it will be, but they’re going to run a counter to this.
This happened 3 plays into the game. While we were waiting for the Dolpins/Cardinals game to get off the Fox station, the Packers were already scoring points.
Davante Adams  starts this play at the top of the screen, man-to-man with Jeremy Lane . Steven Terrell  starts this play in the middle of the field. He is held there by Randall Cobb  in the middle of the field. Adams runs an out-and-up and has Lane beat a couple steps out of his break. Terrell doesn’t see it until the ball is in the air.
Aaron Rodgers  is flushed from the pocket, but he unleashes a perfect pass on the move. This throw is incredible. Let’s look at it from another angle:
That’s an absolutely perfect throw. In a big game, the Packers jumped on top early and didn’t let up.
Up 14-3 with a little less than 6 minutes in the first half, the Packers faced a big 3rd and 6. On the left side of the line, Jordy Nelson  is running a go route while Jared Cook  is running a mid out. Ty Montgomery  is running a little route in the flat from the backfield behind those routes. KJ Wright  is dropping back in a zone to that side of the field. He stays back in his zone for a beat to take away an underneath throw to Cook. When he finally decides to close on Montgomery, he gets his feet tangled with Cook and slips. Montgomery is able to catch the ball and turn upfield to pick up the first down.
Great routes by the Packers to open up this throw underneath to Montgomery. If Wright immediately attacks Montgomery out of the backfield, that would open up a throw to Cook past the first down marker.
Roughly 30 seconds after that big conversion, we were treated to this little gem, courtesy of Aaron Rodgers  and Jordy Nelson . Rodgers calf was really bothering him by this point, so he wasn’t moving around too much. Still, he’s able to slide to his left just a little to get a better throwing angle.
Nelson lines up in the slot to the right of the line. The Packers are running a go/out route combination to the left side of the line, clearing out that side. The Seahawks are in zone. With Nelson crossing the field, that means that KJ Wright  – a linebacker – is forced to pick him up. Wright reacts late and Nelson blows right by him. Rodgers unleashes a missle into Nelson’s body, and Nelson ducks into the end zone.
If Rodgers throws this ball to Nelson in stride, there’s a chance that Steven Terrell  could have been able to come back and make a stop before Nelson was able to get into the end zone. Since Nelson had space between himself and Wright, Rodgers knew he could stop Nelson’s momentum and still allow him to get into the end zone.
Let’s look at it from another angle.
The velocity on this throw is terrific.
Let’s look at a couple more plays from the offense before calling it a day.
3rd and 4 with a little less than 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Packers were up 21-3. Richard Rodgers  lines up on the right side of the line across from Bobby Wagner . Just look at the little shake he gives Wagner. A slight fake outside gets Wagner moving in that direction, then Rodgers slams the route back inside. It’s a terrific route from Rodgers to create separation.
Aaron Rodgers  starts the play by looking left, holding Steven Terrell  to that side. That leaves the middle wide open. With Richard Rodgers creating so much separation, this is an easy throw for Aaron Rodgers.
Richard Rodgers then gets completely blown up by KJ Wright  and draws an Unnecessary Roughness penalty. I have no idea how Rodgers was able to hold onto this ball.
Man…just look at that shake off the line. What a beautiful, glorious move.
This is the play immediately after the Richard Rodgers catch we just looked at. Where the previous touchdown catch by Jordy Nelson  happened pretty quickly, this one took a little more time to unfold.
Nelson starts the play in the slot to the left of the line, across from Kam Chancellor . The initial move is a slants/flat pattern with Nelson running in the flat from the slot while Richard Rodgers  is running a slant from the outside. The routes are run pretty tightly together and the idea is that a natural pick will occur. However, Richard Rodgers bumps into Nelson and runs under the pick, throwing that out the window. Aaron Rodgers  is looking for a quick throw to that side. When it’s not there, he has to look elsewhere. Davante Adams  flashes open into a window off the right, but, with a linebacker in the middle, it’s a pretty tight throw.
Meanwhile, Nelson keeps standing to the side with Chancellor. By keeping Chancellor away from the middle of the field, it could possibly open up a lane for someone else to get free in that area. He keeps his eyes on Rodgers the entire time. When Rodgers works his way back to the left, Nelson makes a quick move back to Rodgers. Rodgers sees him and unleashes this insane pass.
Let’s look at it from another angle:
This is a play where Aaron Rodgers would normally roll to his left to get a better throwing lane, or maybe even run for the touchdown himself. But, with his calf injury, he couldn’t do that.
Still, watch Rodgers navigate the pocket. Even with an injury, he slides around so well. He’s always in a position to throw, while managing to stay out of the grasp of the pass rush.
This throw is an absolute rocket.
I know I said we were going to look at a couple offensive plays and be done, but I lied. I couldn’t end this column without bringing up this play. It was one of my favorites of the day. We couldn’t stop laughing when it happened. I can’t stop laughing now. Roll it!
Christian Ringo  comes flying off the sideline late. With a full head of steam, he absolutely blows up Mark Glowinski , throwing him backwards into Russell Wilson . Wilson escapes that pressure but it takes him right into the face of Clay Matthews  looping around the other side of the line. All Wilson can do is throw the ball out of bounds.
Glowinski is listed at 6’5″, 310 pounds and Ringo throws him back like it’s nothing. I love everything about this play.
– Over the course of this game, Russell Wilson’s season QB Rating dropped by 4.6 points and his career QB Rating dropped by 1.3 points. Throwing 5 interceptions isn’t good for a quarterback’s stats, I guess.
– The 28 point loss is the most points the Seahawks have lost by since losing to the Giants 41-7 on November 7, 2010. Matt Hasselbeck was the starting quarterback that year.
– On third down, Rodgers was 6/8 for 127 yards and 1 touchdown, for a QB Rating of 156.3.
– When throwing deep, Rodgers was 2/5 for 92 yards and 1 touchdown, for a QB Rating of 127.1. Even with Earl Thomas out, not a single one of those attempts went to the middle of the field.
– Rodgers did the bulk of his damage to the short left. When throwing to that portion of the field, he was 10/11 for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns, for a QB Rating of 139.6.
– I talked about it on the podcast a couple weeks ago, but I need to bring it up again here. I recently watched The Barn, and I love it completely. It’s a throwback to 80s slasher/monster movies and it absolutely nails the feel of those movies. You can read my review of it here and you can buy the DVD here. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
– I also recently wrote a short story, based on one of my biggest fears. You can read that here.
Albums listened to: Starflyer 59 – La Vainqueur; Clams Casino – 32 Levels; Circle of Dust – Machines of our Disgrace; Daughter – Not to Disappear; Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool; Mandolin Orange – Blindfaller; Eliza Hardy Jones – Because Become; Francoise Hardy – Yeh Yeh Girl From Paris; Allah-Las – Calico Review