Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WS, USA; Green Bay Packers player Clay Matthews offers a helping hand to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after knocking him to the ground in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory credit: Dan Powers/Post-Crescent via USA TODAY NETWORK
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What did we learn from the Green Bay Packers’ emphatic victory over the Seattle Seahawks?
Three weeks ago the Packers’ playoff hopes were on life support. A top-10 draft pick looked more likely than January football. Aaron Rodgers said they can run the table. So far, so good.
Forget about onside kicks. Forget about a Seahawks comeback. The Packers put this game to bed in ruthless fashion, securing a seventh win on the year. And how they needed this.
At 4-6 the season looked lost. At 7-6, the Packers are just a game out of the sixth-seed and remain just two out of the NFC North lead. Should the Lions drop one more game than the Packers over the next two weeks, the Week 17 meeting at Ford Field would be for the division crown. We’ve seen that one before.
Aaron Rodgers finished Sunday’s game with an ailing calf to go with his already injured hamstring, but he threw just five incompletions to Russell Wilson’s five interceptions.
What did we learn from the Packers’ blowout victory over the Seahawks? Here’s four takeaways.
Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) spikes the football with wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Packers make a statement
Sunday’s victory not only etched a seven in the win column, but also sent a statement to the rest of the league. This is a team that has turned the corner.
Awful defense, inconsistent offense and a tendency to give up big plays dropped the Packers to 4-6, outscored 153-107 in a four-game losing skid. Aaron Rodgers’ comments about running the table felt like typical player optimism without much weight behind it. But the Packers are since unbeaten, outscoring their opponents 86-36 in three straight wins.
For a team that allowed 47 and 42 points in consecutive games to only allow 36 in their next three shows a staggering resurgence.
This performance felt as though it belonged in 2014. Not since a Week 3 thumping of the Kansas City Chiefs last season have the Packers looked so dominant at home.
It might take winning out to make the playoffs, but should Green Bay continue this hot run and punch a ticket to the postseason, no team will fancy a duel with Rodgers.
The Seahawks were considered arguably the NFC’s second-best team behind the red-hot Cowboys. Beating them would have been enough, but the manner of this victory sends shockwaves through the NFL.
Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WS, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) celebrates after an interception against the Seattle Seahawks as the Green Bay Packers host the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory credit: Adam Wesley/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY NETWORK
Defense rises to the occasion
Russell Wilson entered Sunday’s game with just five interceptions to his name in 2016. He doubled that number in four quarters against the Green Bay defense.
Sure, the Packers were fortunate to come away with as many picks as they did, but it highlighted the unit’s dominance. Shaky run stopping was problematic but the Packers jumped to an early lead, forcing the Seahawks to throw frequently, where Wilson was met with consistent pressure.
Green Bay’s offense wasn’t the concern entering this game. The big question was how a struggling defense would contain Seattle’s talented attack featuring Russell Wilson, Thomas Rawls, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham.
Graham, an X-Factor for this game, was held to just one catch for 16 yards.
Don’t expect five interceptions every week, but this was as impressive a defensive performance you could wish to see from the Packers. Three weeks is a long time.
Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WS, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is pressured by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) during the quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
Aaron Rodgers is tough to beat in December
Since 2009, Aaron Rodgers is 21-6 in December. He’s won 15 straight at Lambeau in the season’s final month, a streak stretching eight years.
The Packers know what it takes to win in crunch time. September to November is all about setting the stage for December, which is the month we find out what a football team truly is.
For all of the early-season struggles Green Bay faced on both sides of the ball, it’s finally coming together. Rodgers has been on fire for a while, with the defense and special teams catching up on Sunday.
Over his past four games, Rodgers has completed 94 of 133 passes (70.7 percent) for 1,119 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s heating up ahead of a critical three-game stretch against Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit.
December is Rodgers’ month. How his hamstring and calf injury affects his play from here on remains a mystery, but if Sunday is any indication, he should have no trouble carving open talented defenses.
Next week presents another streak for Rodgers to continue. He’s won on his past five visits to Soldier Field. The Packers need to make it six to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) tries to break a tackle by Seattle Seahawks safety Steven Terrell (23) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Every time Ty Montgomery touches the ball he seems to make a play.
As expected, James Starks’ carries were reduced after what’s been a disappointing season for the veteran.
The backfield belonged to Montgomery (nine carries, 41 yards, one touchdown) and Christine Michael (10 carries, 36 yards), who both impressed against the league’s No. 14-ranked run defense.
Montgomery, in particular, looked sharp. He piled up 86 yards from scrimmage (41 rushing, 45 receiving), showcasing his multi-talented skill set. He shows good vision and burst as a runner, and everyone knows by now how dangerous he is in open space.
We first witnessed Montgomery’s ability to run over defenders last year against Seattle, and it was on full display again, his stiff arm too much for safety Steven Terrell.